IMHO I think you hit on a truth that's been slowly percolating among the US Army Korea specialists for the last five years. Now I'd be the last person to underestimate the capabilities of KPA (It's not that we'd expect so much regarding their sophistication or competence in terms of rapid adjustments during combined arms operations, but the sheer fighting will of an individual soldier seemed pretty impressive to me at least in my experience. Every time there was a cordon operation due to infiltration it would usually end with the team getting away or committing group suicide.). However, two decades of famine no doubt must have impacted the underlying social infrastructure very deeply. As I had posted earlier, I was shocked by the sight of very short KPA personnel at the Joint Security Area. Now the detachments selected for posting here were usually 6 feet for South Koreans (which was rare in the 70s but they managed then. Nowadays it's not that di fficult) and 6'2" for the US personnel. I don't think there was one KPA guy over 5'5" among the ones I could closely observe. Obviously the children of the Rodong-dang nomenklatura probably had normal nutrition while growing up. However, they also wouldn't be the ones standing guard at the JSA either. As far as I could tell, they seemed well disciplined enough, but according to a friend who'd finished his last rotation in 2007 with UNC/CFC CJ3, the KPA's winter exercises were cut short. He'd guessed that their readiness is probably at its lowest level in twenty years of observing the peninsula.
"It's a warm spring day in Vienna, and OPEC delegates meeting in the former imperial capital seem more relaxed than they have been in months. There is less behind-the-scenes skullduggery than usual. Instead, it's an opportunity to hold leisurely dinners with colleagues, or even take time out to watch Barcelona beat Manchester United in the European Champions' League soccer match on TV. And why not? The oil market, deathly ill just three months ago, has recovered faster than just about anyone—including OPEC—expected, with prices now above $63.50 per barrel. "They are jubilant," says Kamel Al-Harami, a Kuwaiti oil analyst.
It came as no surprise that with prices moving up OPEC saw no reason to change production levels at its May 28 parley. "Stay the course," the Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi shouted cheerfully as he left OPEC's glassy blue and white building to take in the sunshine. OPEC's medicine for weak markets announced late last year—a series of cuts amounting to 4.2 million barrels per day—seems to be working, even though demand remains limp and inventories are near record highs. "We worry less when prices are improving," says the Algerian Energy Minister Chekib Khelil. He added that he thought rising prices were sustainable if the European economies follow what OPEC sees as signs of improvement in the U.S." Business Week
Time to start up the oil wars again on SST.
If Business Week is to be believed, OPEC restraints on production (their right), market action and investor belief in future higher prices are raising price per barrel in spite of low demand and massive inventories.
OK. Now let's hear from the "Peak Oil" people as to whether or not these rising prices reflect the undeniable long term shortages of hydrocarbons.
My Escalade is still purring along nicely on Regular gas. pl
"The United States could fight an old-fashioned war against North Korea if necessary, even while newer forms of conflict against terrorists and extremists continue, the Army's top officer said Thursday.
Asked whether the United States would be prepared to fight if war broke out between South Korea and North Korea, Gen. George Casey replied, "The short answer is yes," then added that "it would probably take us a little bit longer to shift gears" away from the type of counterinsurgency fighting that now occupies the Army." Yahoonews
1- As I have said before the phony new/old dichotomy in forms of war that is the "flavor of the decade" is just that. War in its many forms has existed from time immemorial, often practised simultaneously in different conflicts or within the same conflict. To think otherwise is to demonstrate limited education and imagination. The current "kerfluffle" with the DPRK is a perfect example. The picture to accompany this news piece shows George Casey in his new/old Army Blue uniform telling congress that the US Army can both fight an "old" war and fight "new" wars. Incidentally, they should "lose" the wide gold cuff bands on the general officer uniform. It makes them look like "doormen."
2- Everyone seems to think that the DPRK leadership is both fragmented and mad as hatters. They also have a large ground force that has been planning an invasion of the South for fifty years. Why is it that we seem to be sure that they (the DPRK) won't resume the Korean War? No more momma and poppa USSR and China? That would work as an argument in dealing with sane people. Is a government that is building a ballistic missile force and nuclear program on the economic base of the DPRK really be judged to be made up of "rational actors?" pl
Escalating violence, an acceleration of targeted killings, and deniable attacks by U.S. Special Forces on Taliban strong holds in Pakistan will all be the major results of the administration’s U.S. latest change in command in Afghanistan, according to senior Pentagon officials.
The very public May 11 firing of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, replaced by Special Forces expert, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, portends a much bloodier phase of the war, these sources said.
“McChrystal is an expert killer. That’s what the teams he heads are good at,” said former senior DIA official Pat Lang.
“The idea is to put out the eyes of the insurgency using force,” a Pentagon official said.
McChrystal, who headed U.S. Special Operations forces during the famous troop surge in Iraq in the late spring of 2007, used a whole new array of methods to detect, locate and kill insurgent leaders which many claim was key to the success of the operation.
In Iran the citizenry face the choice between Ahmadinajad (al-majnoon) and someone else. It is hard to imagine who could be a worse choice than Ahmadinajad. Like the lunatic faction in North Korea that is driving the situation toward catastrophe, Ahmadinajad relentlessly serves up rhetoric that seems to purposefully eliminate any room President Obama might have for public accomodation with Iran. Blah! Blah! Blah!. Paraphrasing - We are not afraid of you! We are not afraid of the Israelis! Blah! Blah! Blah! Well, you damned well ought to be afraid. Just keep it up and see in the end if the Iranian state, the Persian "moment" in history or Islam are benefited by what might happen. The issue is clearly in the hands of the Iranian people since Ahmadinajad is going to continue being what he is. Does he really think the president of the United States is going to debate him? Absurd.
And then there is Lebanon where Acela Joe Biden stopped by in Beirut to threaten the Lebanese electorate with Bush Administration - Oops! Obama Administration disfavor if the Shia/Aouni forces win a bigger representation in parliament and therefore in the cabinet. Is "egregious" too big a word for this display of "ward heeling" on a global scale? The Obama/Clinton/Jones team has shown some finesse in the Middle East. What on earth are they doing in sending Acela Joe to Lebanon to deliver this neocon/Likud message? Do they really think that Bashar Assad is shamming in his protestations that he wants peace with the US and Israel? Do they really think that? The two clowns that they keep sending to Damascus surely do believe that, but does Obama believe it?
If you believe in prayer, pray for a reasonable outcome in Iran and for the scales to fall from Obama's eyes over Syria and Lebanon. pl
"...On his first day, he woke up early, showered and beat his housemate out the door. Normally, the traffic during his commute to his new office in Charlottesville would have driven him crazy, but not today. He was thrilled to inch along the highway with everyone else on their way to work, and grateful that his new employer didn't seem to have a problem with his Guard service.
Still, he did not mention the rumors that had been floating around the 2-224th for several weeks. In the summer of 2009, the unit's two weeks of annual training were supposedly going to be in the snow-capped mountains of Canada, where the pilots could get used to flying at high altitude.
Which some speculated meant one thing for the battalion: Afghanistan as early as 2010. " Washingtom Post
It is often said now that there will be no surrender ceremony to mark the end of these wars. The end can not be foreseen. What can be foreseen is that Craig Lewis' dilemma will continue to be shared for many "part time" soldiers for a long time.
There was a time when the National Guard was a bit of a joke to the "real Army." I spent a summer in the early '60s (1963 - well before VN) training National Guard and Army Reserve units from the northeastern U.S. at what was then Camp Drum, New York. They were a very mixed lot.
There were states like Massachusetts and New Jersey that possessed division sized National Guard commands with ancient names and pride to match. There was a brigade sized National Guard from the Connecticut suburbs of New York City. That outfit had a battalion of infantry in which riflemen were commonly Wall Streeters, lawyers, businessmen, etc. They were an amazing group. You did not have to tell them anything more than once. There was a "bluestocking" National Guard infantry unit from New York in which the officers had their meals catered in the field from a famous New York City restaurant. Units like these reflected the social structure of their home towns and were a kind of exercize in civic duty. There were also National Guard units from rural and relatively poor parts of the northeast. In those units it was clear that the small amount of money that came to the Guardsmen in drill pay was a major incentive for service.
On the Army Reserve side of things, the service units, medical, etc. were full of professionals from their civilian careers. They were fine, but the combat units of the Army Reserve were just awful, undisciplined, slovenly, disrespectful, and full of hostile, resentful refugees from the draft. In many of these units, the officers were plainly afraid of the men. One reserve division buried two jeeps out in the woods while they were at Drum. Somebody wanted to come back for them after they went home.
That was an era that has little or nothing to do with today's National guard and Army Reserve. The Army Reserve is now made up largely of Combat Support and Combat Service Support units (and individuals). Combatant units (infantry, armor, artillery, etc.)are in the National Guard where they are supported psychologically by state tradition and hometown support.
There no longer is much of a difference between the Army's reserve components and what the generals like to call "the active force." Reserve units have served so much on full time duty and have been trained and equipped to "active force" standards that they are largely indistinguishable from the fulltimers.
Question - Is a mobilized reserve component unit part of "the active force?" If it is not, then the Uptonian nonsense of calling the Regular Army the "active force" is truly unmasked. Want me to explain that?
In any event, people like Captain Craig now have all the burdens of an "active force" career with few of the advantages. A life in whch a man or woman is regularly uprooted from civilian surroundings, sent to war and then put back into civilian life with its very different mores and lifestyle is not a viable life.
Some of you will say. "Oh, good. They won't be like the brutal alienated professional soldiery!"
Unfortunately, you and all the therapists in the world do not seem to understand that soldiering is, in fact, a life apart and to some extent must remain that if long and serious wars are to be fought.
These militia soldiers should be kept on full pay and benefits between deployments. pl
As the United States prepares to boost its military presence in Afghanistan, the Obama administration is using all means to secure alternative routes to supply U.S. and NATO forces as the security situation continues to deteriorate in Pakistan, according to U.S. officials who asked that they not be named.
So far Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan have all agreed to provide new supply routes to Afghanistan, all anxious to boost their international profiles, these sources said.
Teresita Schaffer, director of the South Asia program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Times, “These new routes reflect a necessary fallback position since Pakistan is becoming more and more unstable. We relied on the Paks for seven years, but routes became more and more insecure.”
Former CIA chief of Counterterrorism, Vince Cannistraro, described the Pakistan routes as “a mess” and “increasingly vulnerable.”
"A strike mission on the three nuclear facilities would require no fewer than 90 combat aircraft, including all 25 F-15Es in the IAF inventory and another 65 F-16I/Cs. On top of that, all the IAF's refueling planes will have to be airborne: 5 KC-130Hs and 4 B-707s. The combat aircraft will have to be refueled both en route to and on the way back from Iran. The IAF will have a hard time locating an area above which the tankers can cruise without being detected by the Syrians or the Turks.
One of the toughest operational problems to resolve is the fact that the facility at Natanz is buried deep underground. Part of it, the fuel-enrichment plant, reaches a depth of 8 meters, and is protected by a 2.5-meter-thick concrete wall, which is in turn protected by another concrete wall. By mid-2004 the Iranians had fortified their defense of the other part of the facility, where the centrifuges are housed. They buried it 25 meters underground and built a roof over it made of reinforced concrete several meters thick." Haaretz
This is a Haaretz article written by an Israeli journalist close to the IDF. Read it all, maybe twice. The basis for the article is a Cordesman study on the military feasibility of an Israeli effort against the Iranian Nuclear program.
The bottom line is simple. The Israelis "can't get there from here" without nuclear weapons and the thought of the consequences of that frightens them more than it does the Iranians.
Therefore, they have to persuade Obama to either cooperate with them in a massive operation that would not involve nuclear weapons or better yet (from their point of view) persuade Obama to make this an all US war against Iran.
Thus far, Israel's best asset in the effort to get what they want in regrd to Iran are the Iranians themselves. They have been unresponsive to President Obama's efforts to engage them in a dialogue leading to detente and they persist in bellicose rhetoric that reinforces the Israeli argument.
President Obama is not interested in doing Israel's bidding in regard to Iran, but continued Iranian intransigence could change that.
The Peace Process? Forget that. Bibi would rather die than see a Palestinian state come into being. pl
"The report acknowledges dramatic technological gains by Iran, and it predicts that the country could probably build a simple nuclear device in one to three years, if it kicked out U.N. inspectors and retooled its uranium-processing plants to make weapons-grade enriched uranium. Another five years would be needed to build a warhead that would fit on one of Iran's missiles, the panel says. U.S. intelligence agencies have made similar predictions; Israel maintains that Iran could build a bomb in as little as eight months." Wapo
This report was available to Natanyahu yesterday. This was not good news for someone embarked on a campaign to discredit American intelligence analysis of the "Iranian Threat" (something like the "Yellow Peril"). Today, the news of the great Natanyahu/Obama meeting was on page 10 of the Washington Post along with this little gem about the conclusions of a joint US/Russian study.
And then, on the editorial page we have an OPED by John Hannah, the Bush Administration Middle East staff hack (now at WINEP). He is unhappy with the Obama crew's attitude over Iran. What could be better!
It sounds to me as though things went well at the meeting from the American perspective. Obama gave up nothing over Iran, i.e., we will look at it again by the end of the year. Obama insisted that a two-state solution remains American policy in Palestine.
Look to see the lobby try to stage a US "revolt" against Obama over this. I predict that it won't work and will just cause more damage to Israel's position in the U.S. Natanyahu is in the process of destroying the special relationship between Israel and the US. His arrogant belief that the ant can dominate the elephant will do the job.
Now is the time for the Iranians and the Syrians to step forward offering an open hand. pl
"...the sniping is reportedly coming mostly from State Department officials and some staffers at the White House. Jones, not surprisingly, has a good relationship with the Pentagon. So who's out to get him? Reporters across town are being called and spun. Jones is out of it, they are told, doesn't show up; doesn't speak up at meetings; works only a 12 1/2 -hour day; doesn't stand next to the president in photographs; doesn't like to give interviews. Funny, but those all sound like things the national security adviser should be doing. Reporters are protecting their sources, but Hillary Clinton is apparently not behind the stories. She likes her job, those who have been spun say, and gets along well with Jones.
Meanwhile, the stakes are higher than ever: Iraq is not resolved. Iran could go nuclear at any moment. Pakistan, already a nuclear state, is chaotic. Afghanistan is hanging on by a thread. The Arab-Israeli peace talks have stalled. And that's not to mention North Korea and other hot spots. If ever there was a time to work as a team, this is it. If the leaders of those hot spots think that the Americans are internally divided and do not respect each other or that President Obama is too weak to control the sniping around him, it could be harmful to our foreign policy. " Quinn
Sally Quinn, the wife of the retired managing editor of the Washington Post has published this oped in the Post. The editorial page of the Post has become notoriously (delicious word) neocon in its orientation. The likely source of the whispering campaign against General Jones is the neocon/AIPAC/Likudnik camp. Jones is unlikely to be emotionally engaged in the fate of any foreign country and is therefore automatically considered an enemy by those folks. Quinn obviously has a lot of "clout." Otherwise this piece would never have been published.
The "substance" of the campaign against Jones is made up of standard neocon agitprop themes. These themes are; laziness, inattentiveness, implied creeping senility and most especially not working enough hours... Heaven forbid that anyone in the White House should get enough sleep to be healthy or spend enough time in "real life" pursuits to think clearly!! Heaven forbid. The neocons have used these same themes (successfully) over and over again against people they wanted to bar from public service.
Jones stands too close to the president for their taste. They are now engaged in trying to pressure or persuade Obama to eliminating Israel's Iranian rival's chance of becoming a competing regional power. They do not want to take the chance that Jones (or Clinton) might oppose that. Therefore...
Quinn is right about Jones. One should not confuse reserve with timidity. A former commandant of the US Marine Corps is a dangerous enemy. pl
I would like to know why he was ordered into therapy. What were his symptoms? Irritability? Hyper-attentiveness? What? Did this "old soldier" frighten people in the chain of command above or around him. "Old soldiers" sometimes do that.
I would like to know what was said to SSGT Russell in that clinic. His father said that his son was threatened with the loss of his career, the loss of his way of life, with the loss of his identity as a soldier.
Today's professional US Army is inhabited by men and women whose lives have been altered forever by the experience of survival in circumstances very difficult for civilians to grasp. How does one communicate the stress of a life that threatens always and in which death is never far away either as a threat or as a personal capability?
Today's soldiers are going and coming from the wars so often that the wars have become their real home. As this article says, their supposed home lives are more and more being destroyed by their personal transitions.
The image that a lot of civilians have of the citizen-soldier who leaves his plow or pickup truck to go to the war one time and then returns to civilian life to be fussed over by mental health professionals does not fit the case of the career warriors we now have.
As this article mentions, it is the sergeants who are most affected. Officers go to schools between combat deployments. They have many opportunities for staff assignments, etc. Sergeants live in their units. They typically stay in their units between combat rotations. They often go back to combat with the same units time after time. How long had SSGT Russell been with that engineer battalion in Germany?
And you know what? It has to be that way. The career non-commissioned officers (sergeants) are the backbone of the units who fight wars or directly support those who do. If the United States is to have an army, an army that can provide teeth for its foreign policy and territorial defense, then such a force can not be constructed and maintained without combat experienced, hardened career sergeants. Militia type armies like those of Switzerland or Israel can be built that way, but no force that fights prolonged, intensive wars can exist without career NCOs.
I have some experience of the social sciences and mental health communities that set the agenda with regard to military mental health issues. It is now often said in those communities that the "stigma" that attaches in the military to mental health treatment must be eliminated so that soldiers like Russell will voluntarily seek treatment. Setting aside for the moment the issue of whether or not "old soldiers" would ever choose mental health treatment, one must consider the effect on the force of telling soldiers that what they do as their primary role in life and service inherently cripples them emotionally, damages their sanity severely and that the virtually inevitable end for them will be therapy for their service connected illness.
Then there is the issue of what the army would do with infantry, armor, aviation, engineer, etc. officers and sergeants who are treated for combat induced mental illness, i.e., they could not "handle" the stress of combat.
Would you put them back in command? In combat? If you can not do that, then where will you find officers and sergeants to replace them? Would you put a leader emerged from therapy back in command of a unit in which your brother, sister, son or daughter served? Would you want that? Really? pl
"...the Lebanese government is taking a more pro-active role against alleged Israeli spies than in the past, when many of those accused of working with Israel escaped punishment or were treated leniently because they belonged to politically influential Christian militia groups. This time, the accused may face the death penalty. And in order to spread the word that times have changed, Hizballah and the government may declare a short amnesty period for spies to turn themselves in, after which no quarter will be given, the Hizballah operative told TIME."
I worked in and around Lebanon for a long time. The country has some of everything. Pro-Western Christians, pro-Saudi Christians, Shia militiamen (lots of those), Sunni remnants of the old power structure, many of them in "bidness," policemen in a half dozen different agencies created distantly on old French colonial models (round up the usual...), an army good for nothing except absorbing foreign aid, politicians striving mightily and conspiratorially for the imagined favor of foreign "'forces" who are imagined to have the final decision making power over the Lebanese. Actually, they do have that power because the Lebanese believe that they have it. Oh, and beautiful women, they have lots of those.
In that "brew" there are bound to be lots of spies, spies for everyone and everything. What a fun game! And you can make a few "bucks" in it as well. One can always use another pair of handmade Italian shoes. The Lebanese are of the rentable class.
The ISF has found a few spies, a few Israeli spies? Keep digging boys. Keep digging.
Spies--- Start thinking about that amnesty. Think about it. pl
PS Do any of you know the famous Middle Eastern intelligence joke in which the punch line is "Confess, confess, we know you are a rabbit?" ("I'tarif, I'tarif, na'rif anak arnab!")
As the governments of America’s President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continue to take soundings of each other’s stances, outlooks and agendas, notable points of conflict have emerged, according to several U.S. officials.
“There is a distinct chill in the air,” said a State Department official.
Tensions began with the recent election of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a second term in that office. Netanyahu immediately expressed opposition to a two-state solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict, saying that the Palestinians had to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as a precondition for talks.
This rankled Washington where President Obama stated, “Lasting peace requires more than a long cease-fire, and that’s why I will sustain an active commitment to seek two states living side by side in peace and security.
” Netanyahu and his new Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman gave no ground, refusing to talk of any sovereignty issues, including the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
McKiernan appeared to be doing a creditable job in Afghanistan. He did not have enough troops. He asked for more troops. He did a remarkable job as commander of the ground force in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, not as the maneuver commander but, rather as the man who had the moral courage and integrity to stand up to the civilian ideologues in Rumsfeld's Pentagon and demand enough force to make the invasion succeed.
McKiernan is not a West Pointer and McChrystal appears to have been there when Petraeus was a cadet. Can it be as simple as that? Surely this is not some scheme hatched out in "Benny Haven's Tavern." No. It can't be that. LTG Rodriguez is apparently McChrystal's West Point classmate? How is that going to work out? He is Gates' military assistant at present. Personal relationships are always a factor.
McChrystal's background is in light infantry units like the 75th Ranger Regiment and in counterterrorist commando operations like the Joint Special Operations Command which he headed for five years. This is not COIN. Counterinsurgency is about armed nation building. Counter-terrorism is about killing enemy terrorists.
What is the message in this change? McChrystal's background, his "issues" over supposed abuse of prisoners by his commandos in Iraq and a reputation for operational aggressiveness do not "telegraph" the coming of a policy aimed at a political settlement in Afghanistan.
This sounds like a paradigm shift in which Obama's policy of destroying the leadership of Al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan and Pakistan takes priority over everything else.
I might like this. pl
The United States is pursuing a policy in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theatre that risks an outcome that would combine the fiascos of Vietnam and the Shah’s Iran. It could lead not only to the loss of Afghanistan but also that of Pakistan, with consequences that are frightening to contemplate. What underlies this disaster in the making is a failure to comprehend the real problem the US faces in the region, and the resulting pursuit of solutions that not only do no good but instead make matters worse.
Understanding the Enemy
The first failure lies in misunderstanding the nature of the enemy confronting the US, and the goals that enemy is pursuing. The enemy is not al-Qaeda “terrorists” hiding in the mountains, plotting terror attacks on the US and the West. The Bush administration propagated this notion (of a worldwide Islamist terror network, led by al-Qaeda, forever planning attacks on the US and the West) in order to win support for its scheme to wage unending war, at home and abroad, on whomever it chose to designate as an enemy. Even though the new administration has dropped the use of the GWOT term, the false concepts underlying it continue to seriously contaminate US policy discourse and thinking.
The enemy the US faces in the ‘Af-Pak’ theatre is a grouping of Islamists with different agendas that happen to coincide for the time being. Al-Qaeda and its associates (including the Haqqanis and Hikmatyar) are political Islamists, whose aim is to establish the political, economic and military power of Islam – by repelling Western encroachments on Muslim countries and ultimately taking them over. Political Islamists also exist in Pakistani society and state structures (as they do in every Muslim country). The majority of the groups that are collectively known as the Taliban are religious Islamists, whose primary aim is to establish their brand of orthodoxy among Muslim populations; they are not too concerned about political and economic issues. (“Terrorists”, who blow themselves and others up, are brainwashed unfortunates used by both the other groups; they are low-rent cannon fodder, not the enemy).
§ 611. As used in and for the purposes of this subchapter--
(1) a government of a foreign country and a foreign political party;
(2) a person outside of the United States, unless it is established that such person is an individual and a citizen of and domiciled within the United States, or that such person is not an individual and is organized under or created by the laws of the United States or of any State or other place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and has its principal place of business within the United States; and
(3) a partnership, association, corporation, organization, or other combination of persons organized under the laws of or having its principal place of business in a foreign country.
(1) any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal or of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a foreign principal, and who directly or through any other person--
(i) engages within the United States in political activities for or in the interests of such foreign principal;
(ii) acts within the United States as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, information-service employee or political consultant for or in the interests of such foreign principal;
(iii) within the United States solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value for or in the interest of such foreign principal.
"Founded in the 1950s by Isaiah L. "Si" Kenen, AIPAC's original name was the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs. According to UCLA political science professor and author, Steven Spiegel, "the tension between the Eisenhower administration and Israeli supporters was so acute that there were rumors (unfounded as it turned out) that the administration would investigate the American Zionist Council. Therefore, an independent lobbying committee was formed, which years later was renamed AIPAC." In his book describing the early history of AIPAC, Kenen wrote that AIPAC's Executive Committee decided to change their name from American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs to American Israel Public Affairs Committee "to enlarge constituency and support."
"...back home in her Southern California-based district, liberal activists who have never truly embraced Harman are just getting started. Several of them, most notably Marcy Winograd, who heads up Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, and John Amato, who writes for the popular Crooks and Liars blog, are now making moves to challenge Harman in the Democratic primary, and the recent controversy will be at the heart of their message.
The wiretapping story “has been very, very damaging to her because it highlights what people most distrust about politicians in general: personal gain taking precedence over the voters they are supposed to be representing,” Amato told POLITICO in an e-mail.
Winograd, who ran an unsuccessful primary campaign against Harman in 2006, argued that Harman’s moderate voting record had alienated voters, especially in the district’s more liberal reaches.
“I think what’s important is that Jane Harman’s charade of being a protector of the Constitution should be challenged and exposed,” said Winograd, who received 38 percent of the vote to Harman’s 62 percent in 2006." Poliico
Jane Harman had a talk with the Justice Department last week. It began with a rant on her part as to the impudence of the prosecutors in questioning her petriotism and ended on a much humb;er nore after they explained to her that her reported belief that Israel's interests are the US's interests is not a shield from prosecution.
I can only wonder of she thinks that it is "all right" to give American classified documents to Canada without permission, or perhaps Britain, or Turkey (a NATO member), or, heaven forbid, France!
She is going to be challenged in her district. I wish I lived there. pl
With respect to Punjab (Panjab) a serious assessment of Taliban penetration on the Pak side of the border would be useful.
It should be obvious even to casual observers by now that Taliban are a Wahhabized takfiri movement of Pushtuns (Pashtuns, Pathans). They (Wahhabized Pushtuns) were empowered by the Zia dictatorship for Cold War purposes and then by Benazir (yes Benazir with a wink from the US Clinton Admin) for hydrocarbon (UNOCAL) and "strategic depth" Pak purposes.
Historically, the penetration of Wahhabism into the subcontinent is via the Deobandi sect. It came directly from...yes the Arabian peninsula through missionaries in the 18th century. So this is not new.
Since the late 1970s, the Saudis have funded the Wahhabization of the Subcontinent region with the Deobandis as a key component.
Perhaps the merry band of 40ish NeoCOINist officers (and a certain Australian buddy of theirs) should take their pasty white faces out of the library and get the asses into the field and into the dung-littered mud.
Most foreign policy analysts applaud Obama's new strategy — an acceptance that defeating Taliban militants and their al-Qaida allies is only possible if those groups are rejected by the broader populations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
To that end, Obama's national security team wants to focus not only on military operations but on broader nation building to make life better for the beleaguered people in both nations.
Can Obama, Karzai and Zardari keep a lid on spiraling violence, sustain sufficient peace for his new policy to work?
The Taliban has significantly stepped up attacks on both sides of the forbidding, mountainous border that separates the South Asian neighbors.
Acknowledging that "the road ahead will be difficult," Obama said he has made a "lasting commitment" to not only defeat extremism in both countries but to salvage their shaky democracies.
"No matter what happens we will not be deterred," Obama said Wednesday with Zardari and Karzai standing at his side in the White House.
Earlier, as the summit began, Clinton called the gathering a "breakthrough meeting," telling reporters the sessions covered trade, water sharing, military training and anti-corruption drives among other issues.
"We are facing a common enemy, and we have, therefore, made common cause together," Clinton said at a ceremonial opening, also flanked by Karzai and Zardari in her department's ornate Benjamin Franklin Room. Yahoo News
On the Newshour today Andrew Bacevich and John "Eating Soup With a Knife" Nagl debated what ought to be done about the supposed AfPak theater if war.
Nagl, representing, I suppose, the nation builders and COINists argued for a long and far reaching effort to make something new and wonderful out of the Afghanistan/Pakistan moiety. His argument was a fair exposition of the desirability of a long term American program of "reform" for these two states.
Bacevich argued that the task of re-formulating these countries is beyond the means and strength of the United States. He said that we Americans need to accept the fact that we are not the saviors of humanity, and by implication I suppose he told us that we are deluded in the matter of our role as the model for the destiny of mankind.
I listened to a group of the COIN enthusiasts at an academic meeting last week. It was very public and on the record. This fortyish group of soldier-scholars are famous for their enterprise in writing books that analysed counterinsurgency campaigns of the 20th Century, campaigns that they were all too young to have experienced. Based on years of library research, they discovered the COIN doctrine of that time. It truly had "gone missing" for several decades following the defeat of the United States in Vietnam and did need re-discovery. They now treat that doctrine as though it is holy writ. When urged to acknowledge that the future is unknowable and that enemies and wars may come in many forms in different places, they often say they accept that notion but there is something unconvincing about their statements. As the cliche says, "for a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail." It is a bad thing to become overly-invested in a theory. I have said this a several times now in these pages and elsewhere. One of my correspondents, a man of thirty or so, wrote to tell me recently that my lack of focus on the supremacy of COIN methods is a demonstration of advancing age. Maybe so, but I was a practitioner of COIN in a number of places in the wars that the COINists have studied. There is a limit to its utility. It is expensive. It takes a long time and it is corrosive of popular will to continue.
Could the United States re-formulate Afghanistan and Pakistan into something other than what they are and thereby "drain the swamp" of violent jihadism? Certainly. This kind of thing has been dome before, always more or less imperfectly. The neocons argued explicitly and implicitly before March, 2003 that this is exactly what we were going to do in Iraq and that once we accomplished that task the forces of repressed cultural globalization would sweep the Greater Middle East bringing on an earthly paradise somewhat akin to present day Europe. That did not work very well. The local "backward" culture proved to be a stubborn thing willing to defend its familiar "backward" ways. Iraq is a better place now than it was in 2005 but how much different is it, really?
Now we are told that it is American policy to act as a sort of cosmic neighborhood organizer for the "uplift" of these Afghan and Pakistani folks wandering in the wilderness of their own peculiar "backwardnesses."
Bacevich is right. It is beyond our capacity to do that at any price that we can or should want to pay. I would have thought that would be intuitively obvious. pl
"Iraq will not extend withdrawal deadlines for U.S. troops set out in a bilateral accord, ending months of speculation about whether U.S. combat troops would stay beyond June in bases in the restive northern city of Mosul.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Iraq was committed to adhering to the withdrawal schedule in the pact, which took effect on January 1, including the requirement to withdraw U.S. combat troops from towns and cities by the end of June and a full withdrawal by the end of 2011.
"These dates cannot be extended and this is consistent with the transfer and handover of responsibility to Iraqi security forces," Dabbagh said in a statement." Washpo
There was a provision called the "Platt Amendment" in the arrangement under which the US withdrew its forces from Cuba in 1901 or thereabouts. Under this "Amendment" to the treaty between the US and independent Cuba the US could intervene again in Cuban affairs just about any time it wanted to. The senate put that in the treaty. FDR finally abandoned the privilege as a gesture of "good neighborliness." The Cubans unserstandably were glad to see the end of the "Platt Amendment" because its existence made a mockery of their sovereignty.
Recently, General Odierno made statements to the British media which indicated his "reservations" concerning the timetable that President Obama announced for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. The gist of his remarks was the "dangling" of the possibility of delays based on stability and security considerations. Those were the concerns that caused the insertion of the "Platt Amendment" as well. The White House wisely ignored Odierno's pronunciamento from the field, but here we have one Ali Dabagh making it clear that although the Iraqi (Shia) government may want want logistical and training help beyond Obama's dates, no extension of American AUTHORITY in the country is acceptable. Yep. Frankenstein's monster walks again. Was Cuban history better for the Cuban people without the "Platt Amendment?" I am sure you all will have something to say about that.
Let us hope that the progress of independent Iraq wil not lead to a Fulgencio Batista look alike. pl
"The Israel Air Force recently staged military exercises between Israel and the British colony of Gibraltar near southern Spain, the French magazine L'Express reported on Saturday.
The fact that the drills were held 3,800 kilometers away from Israel "confirms that the Israel Defense Forces is making concrete preparations" to attack Iran over its refusal to cooperate with the international community over its contentious nuclear program, according to L'Express. " Ha'aretz
""Israel wants to know that if its forces were given the green light they could strike at Iran in a matter of days, even hours. They are making preparations on every level for this eventuality. The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words," one senior Israeli defense official told The Times.
The London Times report appeared to be an Israeli message to Iran conveying its capability and readiness to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons." Ha'aretz
"Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.
The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb.
Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.
“As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources.
The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad’s assessment that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two years."
- This is undoubtedly a message. The big question is whether or not it is a message that that will become a mission if Israel does not have its way. Is it a "bluff?" There is only one way to find out. That is how "bluffs" work. - 3800 kms. is the more or less straight line distance across Jordan and Iraq. - Small yield nuclear weapons? It never made any sense even as a planning drill any other way. - President Peres is supposed to tell President Obama today that Natanyahu is a bit of a wild man who might do anything imaginable if not given what he wants. This is an interesting ploy, but unlikely to work well with Obama and Clinton. - And then one must consider the Jericho force... Taken altogether these indicators point to a massive Israeli psychological campaign intended to push Iran and the US into doing what Israel wants. The big question remains whether or not Israel will do the deed if frustrated. pl
It is about 3200 km. roundtrip from the Israeli coast to Natanz, Iran. Ha'aretz says that the IDF is flying long range training missions to Gibraltar practising in-flight refueling among other things. It is 3800 km. roundtrip to Gibraltar from the Israeli coast.
- This is undoubtedly a message. The big question is whether or not it is a message that that will become a mission if Israel does not have its way. Is it a "bluff?" There is only one way to find out. That is how "bluffs" work.
- 3800 kms. is the more or less straight line distance across Jordan and Iraq.
- Small yield nuclear weapons? It never made any sense even as a planning drill any other way.
- President Peres is supposed to tell President Obama today that Natanyahu is a bit of a wild man who might do anything imaginable if not given what he wants. This is an interesting ploy, but unlikely to work well with Obama and Clinton.
- And then one must consider the Jericho force...
Taken altogether these indicators point to a massive Israeli psychological campaign intended to push Iran and the US into doing what Israel wants.
The big question remains whether or not Israel will do the deed if frustrated. pl
I think that would be a terrible idea, not because she would not make a good Justice. No, I think the real issue is that she is proving to be a capable foreign minister for the United States and I can't imagine who could adequately replace her there. She is proving to be capable of managing all the special interest people foisted on her, keeping them in line without ruffling feathers too much. This is invaluable.
Perhaps that is why "some Democrats" want her moved to the high court? pl
The Nivose is reported to have alerted the Seychelles authorities to help them capture the other three.
Somali pirates are currently holding nearly 20 ships for ransom.
On Saturday a Greek-owned ship with a Ukrainian crew was hijacked by Somali pirates south-west of the Seychelles, a seafarers' group says."BBC
This the handiwork of the Fusiliers Marins embarked in a frigate of the Marine Nationale. Some Americans seem to hold the French military in low regard. I make a habit of of asking such people why they feel that way. There is seldom a comprehensible reply. Blind prejudice, inherited from the British ("The wogs start at Calais," etc.) probably is at the root. "They surrendered. etc." What crap! Everyone surrenders when the game is over. The British surrendered to us (and the French) at Yorktown. The British surrendered at Singapore. The British Empire garrison surrendered to the Germans at Tobruk. Shall I continue? An American division surrendered in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge, and then there was Bataan. I am not inclined to apologize for that. The US Marines never surrendered anywhere? No? What about Wake and Corregidor? No matter. For Francophobe bigots no argument would suffice. Names like Verdun and Bir Hakeim mean nothing to them.
Well, here, unaccountably we have the French Navy acting as the most effective part of the international anti-piracy coalition. How can that be? I will be interested in viewing and responding to the responses to this post. pl
"Israel will find it difficult to attack Iran alone without a "green light" from America, even if it is only implied and if America ostensibly turns a blind eye. But once the moment of truth arrives,it is doubtful Obama would give the order to take down the Israeli planes heading to Iran - or for that matter to declare an end of aid to Israel or to sever relations. Obviously, the U.S. will want to remain somewhat distanced from any operation that is launched, so as not to be vulnerable to the anticipated Iranian response. But its strong commitment to Israeli security will not allow America to forcibly prevent a military operation designed to prevent a second Holocaust. That is the message Netanyahu will try to implant in the minds of the members of Congress." Ha'aretz
So that's it folks. The American Sovereignty that Rush, O'Reilly and Hannity go on about really does not exist. AIPAC (the non-lobby that some have thought the agent of the Jewish Agency and Israel in Washington) evidently has enough clout with Congress and Obama that Ha'aretz believes it is doubtful that the United States would honor its undertaking to defend Iraqi airspace. Ha'aretz is apparently also assured that nothing Israel chooses to do would cause America's grants of aid to Israel to come to an end or even a pause.
Well, why would the Israelis not think that? The Department of Justice has asked that espionage charges be dropped against two former AIPAC employees. AIPAC is now publicly and officially rejoicing in this outcome for its former employees. Bravo! Well done! Loyalty to former employees is admirable. A further confidence building development is the ease with which Representative Harman mastered the brouhaha over her intercepted conversation with a "suspected Israeli agent." The American Main Stream Media (MSM) could not have been more helpful in dealing with that momentary embarasment. And why not? How absurd that anyone could think that Israel spies on the United States government and that she would seek to influence a court case involving men accused of spying on her behalf. How absurd!
Bibi is undoubtedly looking forward to his trip to Washington. He will have a chance for a friendly talk with the president and with his many friends in Congress. pl