Someone using that moniker wrote to say that "if I had suggestions to make about Libya" I should make them." What? Who? What the hell have we been doing here? pl
The groups we supported were defeated by the Taliban in the civil war that followed Soviet withdrawal. The Taliban and Usama bin Laden were supported by the separate "Sayyaf" group of Mujahideen supported by Saudi Arabia and Deobandi fanatics in Pakistan.
But, what the hell, why bother with facts? pl
It has been a month since my original proposal to support the Libyan rebels with Special Forces ODAs. A lot has happened since then. At the behest of our host, I offer an update on the situation and my proposal. Let us not mince words. What I propose would actively aid the rebels in defeating Qathafi. There is nothing impartial about this. We should choose unequivocally to free the oppressed in Libya because it is both the right thing to do and well within our capability to accomplish.
The rebel forces are under equipped, under trained and disorganized. That is obvious. Yet they still manage to hold on in the face of mechanized onslaughts from Qathafi's army. They are a mobile force willing to give up ground rather than be cut off and destroyed when faced by vastly superior firepower. However, their mobility depends on light pickup trucks and late model sedans. This force is pretty much limited to the paved coastal road and not capable of cross country maneuver. Maintenance on this fleet of vehicles is probably nonexistent. Overloaded with rebel fighters, crew served weapons and ammunition, these vehicles will start breaking down in large numbers soon. Another danger facing this road bound force is Qathafi's use of land mines. They've recently been seen in front of Sirte.
The physical environment and available resources dictate that the rebels should remain a lightly armed, mobile guerilla force rather than trying to become a conventional mechanized army. To do this, the rebels do not need to be armed by NATO. They have the weapons they need. If anything, NATO could provide fuel and supply trucks - preferably full. That would be helpful. The Libyan Army units and soldiers that have sided with the rebels are probably no more familiar with creating a mobile guerilla force than the youth in their pickup trucks. This is where the deployment of SFODAs would do the most good.
Rather than taking the time to formally organize and train conventional rebel military units from scratch, I would very quickly send several ODA's forward from Benghazi to the front lines to work with what's already there. Some informal small unit leaders have no doubt already emerged on the highway between Benghazi and Sirte. Begin by working with these natural small unit leaders and their followers to form units similar to the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) of WW II fame. Judging only by watching news footage, it seems there are sufficient off road vehicles, 106 mm recoilless rifles, heavy machine-guns and light AAA to equip a number of small reconnaissance/raiding groups. The ODA's should deploy with vehicles (and possibly weapons) similar to what the rebels are already using, just newer with a lot less wear and tear on them. That way they can bring a lot more medical and communications gear than if they were just humping rucksacks. Whatever vehicles the ODAs bring in would be used to train the rebels and would not be part of any SF exclusive combat unit. Think of it as a small version of the lend-lease program.
Training of these mobile guerilla recon/raiding units would include cross country navigation, mounted and dismounted reconnaissance patrolling, communications, and EFFECTIVE long range use of the weapons carried by the groups. That includes conservation of ammunition. Maintenance and logistics training will be critical. There must be a lot of mechanics in Libya to maintain all those pickups and cars. They can help the rebel force more by turning a wrench than by firing a weapon. I doubt this rebellion will be over in a week or two, and the side without effective logistics will eventually grind to a halt. Employment of these mobile guerilla units would begin with what UW doctrine terms confidence missions - limited objective missions to to train the rebels to operate effectively as a team and to build their confidence in their abilities. These actual combat missions would begin in a matter of days of the arrival of the ODAs at the front lines. No graduation certificates. No badges. Just on the job training to defeat Qathafi's forces. As more rebel leaders develop or just surface in these initial units, new units would be formed around those new rebel leaders, trained and employed in combat. Special Forces soldiers will remain with the mobile units to train, advise and provide special skills such as coordinating air and naval fire support.
Recent reporting from the latest running of the Benghazi handicaps indicates that sandstorms may have hampered NATO interdiction of Qathafi's forces advancing from Sirte. Effective rebel LRDG-like patrols could continue to raid and harass Qathafi's logistical and fire support units when NATO aircraft are not available. When aircraft like the AC-130 and A-10 are available, they can be directed to targets by these patrols with the help of the embedded Green Berets. Qathafi's forces are apparently attempting to adapt to operate under NATO airstrikes. The creation and employment of mobile guerilla units will become a necessary adaption for the rebels.
I leave you with the NASA Pirate Code written by John Muratore, an engineer and NASA program manager renowned for his creativity and ability to get things done faster, better and cheaper. I believe his code describes how a mobile guerilla force of Libyan rebels trained, advised Special Forces professionals would operate and eventually bring freedom to all Libyans.
- Pirates have to know what they’re doing.
- If we fail, there is no mercy.
- You’re operating outside the normal support structure of society. It’s all about knowing all the details.
- You hit hard and fast. Pirates don’t spend months wandering around.
- Pirates live on the edge or just in front of the wave that is about to catch them.
- Piracy is about taking risks. Occasionally we’re going to fail and you’ll get some holes blown in you.
- Pirates don’t have resources to waste. You’re always operating on a thin margin, not in fat city.
- We’re all banded together.
The Twisted Genius
Dr. Brenner informed me that someone who calls himself (itself) "Mr. URL" is writing that I have called for"an attack on MB" (presumably Michael Brenner). This is supposedly because I am unhappy with his post yesterday.
This is untrue. I have done no such thing.
He and his political cronies in the WH and in Chicago are, to say the least, unenthusiastic about regime change in Libya or anywhere else in the ME. Why is that? Hmmm.
Obama's lukewarm and self contradicting statements have produced what is at least for the moment, operational paralysis. Think about it, if you were Carter Ham or any number of other NATO senior officers how could you avoid thinking that you are very exposed as a probable scape goat if a claim is made that you somehow exceeded your "instructions?"
The rebels are a rabble? Certainly, but so are Qathafi's people. The rebel "ranks" may contain people who fought us in Iraq? Probably, but we do not actually know that except on the word of Qathafi and persistent suggestions in the MSM by people who have no way to know.
NATO air power is ineffective in built up areas? Rubbish. Go look at the satellite photographs of these towns, Sirte, etc., on Google Earth. They are mostly open space with a few palm trees. The tanks, rocket artillery launchers, armored personnel carriers and AAA guns on trucks of Qathafi's people are all quite exposed. USAF has now brought AC-130s and A-10s into the action. These aircraft are well suited for engagement of targets in these towns or anywhere along the road. The metal masses in these weapons are very detectable by the aircraft night or day.
Obama should think about the political effect here in the US of defeat by Qathafi's puny forces. He wants to be re-elected? It would be interesting to see how his prospects would be affected by Qathafi's continuing presence in Tripoli in November 2012 and the mockery that the Republicans will rain down on him over his present weakness. pl
“The Middle East never will be the same again” are the words on every observer’s lips. True – but in itself that tells us very little as to consequences and implications for the United States from the political cataclysm shaking the region and reshaping its politics. Restraint in predicting what those implications will be is praiseworthy. Anyone who boldly claims to know the specific and concrete effects is talking through his turban. Yet it is imperative that we begin to think rigorously about what the future holds. So let’s begin with a rough taxonomy.
"Operation Odyssey Dawn is having telling effects on the military situation in Libya. Air operations by NATO and the coalition of countries opposing the Libyan government are degrading regime capabilities substantially and bolstering the rebels' ability to conduct both defensive and offensive operations. For the Qadhafi regime's part, its capacity to engage in offensive operations is declining markedly, and even its ability to conduct a coherent defense of its heartland is diminishing." Jeffrey White at WINEP
Jeff White is a colleague from the DIA days. A most excellent analyst.
I understand that the Qathafi garrison has chosen to defend at the eastern and southern entrances to the town of Surt (Sirte). This is wonderful news! Keep it up boys! Someone will be along to "dance" with you shortly. pl
Colonel Jack Jacobs today said on one of the 24/7 news entertainments that the behavior of this platoon was "worse than Abu Ghraib." IMO he is exactly correct. In that prison men were abused by MP reservists who amused themselves by humiliating them in a multitude of disgusting ways, but they did not kill them.
In this instance the men of this rifle platoon (40 men more or less) decided to kill unarmed Afghan villagers because they were bored, hated these strange beings, and thought they could get away with it. In one instance they picked out an unarmed 15 year old boy as a victim and then revelled in mocking and defiling his corpse while the company commander stood by and watched.
This story is all about leadership, bad leadership as well as the baleful effect of ignorance about the local people, and the degeneration in moral standards that US Army commanders in the chain of command above this unit had allowed to occur.
No commissioned officers have been charged for conspiracy or neglect of duty? What a farce! This is all about their failures, all of it!
In the last few days I have had the sorry experience of watching a group of senior US Army officers preen and strut and glory in the stature allowed them by high rank. They do not remind me of the senior officers of my youth, men who led troops by example and with a sense of the responsibility that they carried for the honor of the Army.
In my big war, a lot of officers died on the battlefield. I can remember two major generals (Ware and Casey) who died within a few months in 1968-69. Senior officers in these wars are more likely to die from IED incidents than anything else.
These men do not seem like the men of that time. They seem to be a caste of uniformed Walmart managers and executives, each maneuevering for whatever is to be had in the consultant work that awaits them in retirement. They band together to arrange such work as a perquisite of their "success."
The enlisted men involved in these bestial murders must be punished but the officers who let this happen should be punished with them. pl
There are many reasons why one should go back to history. It could be an effort, if analyzed neutrally, to understand how different forces play out and shape the outcome of a certain period of time, or to pick an event from here and there to prove a subjective point related to the one’s own argument about that period or the present. I believe that what counts to people on this site is reading previous chapters of history to figure out where we are going particularly in times of uncertainty like those now in the Middle East.
As many already know, what is important in looking at the issues you and I have been debating with the participation of many friends here is the context in which any event took place. For many of the friends here, this is not done merely as an intellectual exercise, or as propaganda. If we understand, from studying previous periods of history, how religious fundamentalism spreads in a place, for example, we will be able to know if it is possible to defeat it and how.
- Someone has gotten the rebels up off their haunches and headed back to the west. Who that someone might be is, at this point, a bit of a mystery. The passage of time will undoubtedly clarify that point.
- The provision of air support to the rebels has made a decisive difference in tihs civil war. All the lawyerly obscurantism about the UN Resolution cannot obscure the fact that a NATO led coalition, supported by the US is going to drive Qathafi's forces all the way back to Tripoli with the rebels following along behind on the coast road.
- Qathafi's "forces" are extremely brittle. They have already begun to run from air attacks or even the sound of aircraft, abandoning their equipment and supplies as they flee in civilian vehicles. It is not necessary to arm or supply the rebels. Qathafi's disintegrating forces will provide the needed materiel as they withdraw.
- As the rebels approach Tripoli the populace will rise again. How long will all this take? As I have written elsewhere, an outside estimate of six months is reasonable. The actuality may be a considerably shorter departure date for Qathafi.
- Am I concerned about an Islamist "takeover" in Libya? No. The chance that Islamist parties are likely successors in power in any of the presently disputed countries is minimal. There are far too many non-Islamist political forces in all these coutries for the Islamists to rise to power. Will they still exist in these places? Yes, but they will not rule. pl
I was sent this fascinating essay by an occasional reader. The document was found among the effects of Klestadt after his death. It is quite applicable in the present circumstance when there is much loose talk about killing Qathafi. pl
Albert Klestadt (1913 -2006) a former intelligence officer and student of Military History.
"J Street, which was founded three years ago, says it has 170,000 members in the U.S. Jewish community, many of whom, organizers say, want an outlet for their support of Israel without feeling required to be in lock step with every government decision.
The new model is considered treasonous by those in Israel who think the American Jewish community’s role should be to back the Israeli government’s decision.
“J Street is not a Zionist organization. It cannot be pro-Israel,” lawmaker Otniel Schneller, a member of the centrist Kadima party, said at the hearing, asserting that the group’s love of Israel “has strings attached.”" Washington Post
Here you have a demonstration of the "zero sum game" mentality common in Zionist perceptions of reality.
"J Street" wants to love, cherish and protect Israel, but it apparently wants to do so without total and unquestioning acceptance of Israeli government decisions. In the narrow mindset of Revisionist Zionism, this marks "J Street" as "the other," and therefore "enemy." Within this mindset all actions are judged as either pro-Israeli or "enemy."
The same kind of mindset causes the blacklisting and ostracism that Zionist organizations conduct against anyone or any group that is not totally and unquestioningly obedient to Israeli policy. pl
This is a contribution to the debate about US intervention in the Middle East which is restrained obviously by the fact that it comes from a non- American. It will be easy to dismiss any views of that kind with a simple reminder that they come from someone who does not pay any price for whatever he says. Yet, I believe it may be a plus to have an open debate with all views considered, which helps to overcome any timidity or hesitation in my part.
9 1/2 minutes in. At one point in this I misspoke and said "Zeidi SUNNI" when it should have been "Zeidi Shia." pl
President Obama and his administration have handled the Libya Crisis appropriately and effectively to date. Hopefully, in the coming days, the US will be in a position to hand off various responsibilities to coalition partners.
America’s involvement in the present coalition was requested by representatives of the Libyan people, by the Arab League, and by the United Nations. There was strong bipartisan support in the US Congress to call on the UN to authorize a no-fly zone and to protect the Libyan people from barbaric attack by an evil regime.
Someone here asked where to read about tribal societies. Download "Tribes of the Al-Anbar Directorate." Start with that and then look at the bibliography. This document was written under contract with the defense Department and then released to the public in this form. pl
Someone sent me this link to a piece of Stephen Vincent Benet's book length poem, "John Brown's Body" that won a Pulitzer in 1928 if I remember correctly. It is uneven. The best parts IMO are the descriptions of the two peoples, the armies and the leaders. The narrative that runs through it of some mythical mountaineer has always escaped me. That is probably my fault.
This description of the "marble man" is exquisite. pl
Once again, with the incursions in Libya, our nation is getting involved in military action in the Middle East. Although we are part of a coalition effort, as usual America is carrying out a large part of the action and at no small cost. Since our government representatives and the nation as a whole are so focused on the deficit and the national debt to the point of reducing funding for a number of important domestic programs, it seems fitting to ask whether these expenditures for military action in Libya, are warranted.
Yesterday I mentioned my frustration with the hasbarim and their successes in blacklisting on SST to see what the reaction would be. It was 100 to 1 against my giving it up. Thanks to my own resources and "the kindness of others" I have no financial problems so that is not an issue for me. If my repeated enquiries about quitting bore you, sorry, but you will see it again, and one day it will be true.
I did get a couple of hasbara messages. Both were from supposed "people" who apparently have not written before. They were writing from hidden IPs with a pronouncedly foreign cadence to their prose. The best one was from something that told me that if I knew Israel, had ever visited Israel I would know how wicked were my "attacks" on the Jewish State. This 'person" held out the possibility that if I went on a JINSA sponsored visit to Israel and repented then there was some small chance that I might be forgiven. They do not do research. I have been to Israel more times in the last 45 years than the number of years this "person" has probably lived. Amen. pl
On "Morning Joe" today the Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson said some remarkable things. His Pulitzer has gone to his head. Complete with self-satisfied smirk, he held forth on the motivations of American foreign policy in the MENA region. "Its all about OIL" he said, "Iraq, Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabi." Its all about OIL.
Its a pity that this does not make sense. Qathafi always sold oil into the world market at market prices. He did not threaten to cut off the flow of oil. Bahrain has litttle oil. Saudi Arabia has mega oil and we are doing everything that we can to iritate them about the wave of unrest. We never benefited at all from Iraqi oil. Look at our national debt!
Work on this conundrum. Are their motivations in foreign policy other than economic ones? pl
It was joined an hour later by another division and then more units. I believe the the two commanders of the defected divisions belong to the Bakil tribe.
The elders of the tribe declared a week ago that they are taking the side of the protestors. Both are Northern. There are many questions now about the impact on al- Qaida organization particularly in the South. It is unlikely at this juncture that the voices for secession will rise at least for now. In all this mess, there is a good opportunity that an inclusive equation will emerge. It will be a very tough call but it is worth every bit of effort. Looking at the situation I believe that we are heading for a long period of a very messy process in Yemen though one can only hope it will end with a stable Yemen.
What happens in Yemen will have a very loud echo in the Arabian Peninsula. The role of Saudi Arabia will be crucial. This necessitates an immediate dialogue between Washington and Riyad. If left on their own, the Saudi will turn to be part of the problems we are about to see not part of the solution.
These army mutinies will probably finish off Ali Abdullah Salih. He is a Hashid tribesman from among the enemies of the Bakil from whence the mutineers originated. Yemen is an intensely tribal society in the areas away from Sanaa and Aden. The tribal element in this should not be minimized. Awlaki the AQAP leader is from way down in the SE of the cuntry. The coup has nothinh to do with him/them. Will a new government cooperate as much with the US against AQAP? Probably not.
Saudi Arabia? They are going to move much closer to China in terms of business, defense, etc. the government there has decided that the US is a faithless friend and that they must find other protectors. they are not going to help us much. pl
It is amusing to listen to the tortured musings on television today of the usual collection of talking heads and International Relations inspired eunuchs. "Oh, let's not do this! Let's not do that! Someone might be hurt! If only this had been done a week ago! Too late! Too late! This will be like Iraq! This will be like Afghanistan!"
Rubbish. This will not be like either of these wars unless we truly "take counsel of our fears."
The same people were wringing their hands a week ago saying much the same things. In fact, Libya is a perfect place to exercise modern air power against the forces of a man like Qathafi. The UN resolution contains language with regard to "protecting the Libyan people." Qathafi is an inherent threat to the Libyan people. Therefore...
IMO, the coalition air and naval forces will cripple Qathafi forces. A handful of covert trainers, equipers and coordinators should be inserted into the country to shape, not a conventional army, but rather an irregular, guerrilla force that can shoot, move and communicate in a motley collection of vehicles for an advance to the west and east upon Tripoli behind a moving curtain of aerial firepower. The covert coalition personnel will be vital as well for preventing air strikes on friendly forces.
There should be no occupation. The Libyans can sort their political affairs out by themselves.
We need to get this over quickly before the chorus of high pitched voices overwhelms the chance of liberation for Libya. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
After following all the recent SST posts and comments pertaining to Libya, as well as some of the reporting and commentary in other places, I think the issues pertaining to American intervention in Libya come down to the broad categories of why and how. While I think that The Twisted Genius and COL Lang certainly have laid out and proposed the best variant of how US intervention should take place, after observing both the politics surrounding the uses of American military force for the past decade, as well as the actual way the US ultimately uses force, I'm not feeling too optimistic that what they are delineating, based on year's of hard learned experience, will actually be done. In fact I'm pretty sure we will see something of the usual suspects version of the use of force: a no fly zone that doesn't do much to remove Qathafi (which is now, if I understood the President's remarks correctly, the overall stated US objective: that he has to go), followed by pressure from both our allies (France, Britain) and from the internal foreign and defense policy mavens that we must do more, America is looking weak, we're not living up to our standards - the usual arguments for boots on the ground intervention, which will result in said intervention. Then we will start hearing the arguments that we have to expand operations so as not to discredit those who have already risked so much and because we can not allow Libya to descend into an ungoverned state of chaos, destabilize the region, and become a haven for al Qaeda, other extremists, and/or international criminals. This will then become the basis for the need for the US to build a modern Libyan nation-state. Since only time will tell how what we do plays out, let me move on to a brief discussion regarding whether we should or should not intervene.
not a "no fly zone." MQ cannot be allowed to use trickery to remain in power. The worst thing that France, Britain, Egypt and the US can do is to allow Qathafi to dominate the situation by means of legalisms in his ridiculous "cease fire." The "allies "should get on with the business of arming and advising the rebels under Arab League auspices. pl
18 minutes in. I would recommend to the UN forces that they launch a psyops campaign in the media and with leaflets warning the Qathafi forces that if they see aircraft they should run away from their vehicles. pl
The word is out among the "cognoscenti," (another word, Fred) that both Clinton and Gates are thoroughly dillusioned about Obama. His self-obsession and inattention to foreign policy (except at the level of a graduate school seminar) have been wearing.
There have too many self-indulgent rounds of golf (supposedly three or four a week), White House galas, and trivial domestic trips to grammar schools for the purpose of posturing.
I suppose that he will appoint someone like Susan Rice as Secretary of State. That would fit the pattern. pl
As Sidney O. Smith has mentioned several times there has been an echoing, stony silence on the part of Senator Jim Webb on the subject of the deliberate Israeli attack on USS Liberty in 1967. He surely knows the truth. Now that he is leaving public life we should expect hear from him on this subject. pl
It started with a bang (quite a few bangs, actually), but ended with a whimper. On Wednesday afternoon the sessions court convened inside Kot Lakhpat jail, with the accused present, as well as the families of the victims. Their lawyers weren’t there because, when they arrived at the jail earlier that day, they were escorted to another room and placed under armed guard. Also not there was the young widow of one of the victims who, overcome with grief and the futility of hoping for justice, had taken her own life. (Of course, as devotees of le Carré will recognise, Raymond Davis himself was also a victim).
The judge read out the indictment; then a representative of the victims’ families stood up and told him that they had accepted payment of compensation for the killings and, under the diyyat provisions of the law, had pardoned the killer. Having confirmed this, the judge ordered the prisoner released. In the hush that followed, as Davis walked towards the US Consul seated behind him he had tears trickling down his face, but the whimpering sound probably came from some of the womenfolk among the families. Within minutes Davis left in a convoy of diplomatic vehicles; within the hour he was on a plane bound for Bagram airbase in Kabul.
18 minutes in. pl
I was once so privileged as to be an official of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in various capacities. (CV on the blog). I understand that in the last years DIA has performed as the premier agency of the US intelligence community. This has been reflected n the quality of its HUMINT operations and the brilliance and integrity of its anaylsis within the process of National Intelligence Estimation particularly in the matter of Iran.
LTG Burgess (the director), whom I do not know, is to be commended for the support he has given his people under pressure.
It has been pointed out to me that we (I) have been neglectful of the economic aspects of presently developing history. Such issues as crude oil prices, "peak oil," and nuclear power alternatives are, or should be, in the forefront of our committee's considerations.
Therefore, I call upon you all in my capacity as chairman, to begin a renewed emphasis on energy issues in our discussions.
I propose an initial string on the subject of the mechanisms that control oil spot prices. pl
In few hours Qaddafi’s war to force the East into submission will begin. The butcher’s forces are preparing to attack Ajdabia then Benghazi. President Obama has just missed a great opportunity to rebuild Arab trust in the USA. Libyans should use O’s words in Cairo about democracy and American support for Arabs quest for freedom to defend their homes and children.
The so called “international community” prefers a weakened Qaddafi to an “unknown,” so they get better oil deals in another bloody replay of the Lockerbie settlement. But this shame will never be forgotten. When the post massacres negotiations will begin to “rehabilitate” the butcher once more, his reintegration into this community will be paid for by the Libyans’ oil after they will have already paid with their blood.
Even sanctions are not forced now; they will be forced later when the “job” is done. The “postfestum” sanctions will be helpful as a negotiating chip. This is why everyone now is “pressuring” Q so long as he remains in power to be squeezed further later on, with “advisors” and “consultants” a la Blair intermediating the “rehabilitation.” A big boat carrying military equipment landed in Tripoli Friday 5pm and unloading of the equipment went on till 10 am Saturday. The boat was raising a Greek flag but it is unknown where it came from. NATO naval pieces did not see it of course.
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
In the comments to the recent post dealing with Iraq we had a good discussion pertaining to the Sons of Iraq and Sahwa movement, especially in regard to how they have been dealt with by the Government of Iraq during the run up to the 1999 provincial elections, in the run up to the 2010 parliamentary election, and since that election was finally resolved. I have referenced the field work I did on behalf of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division in many of my posts on Iraq, as well as in comments to those and other posts. Of all the forty-five formal, semi-structured interviews I did, only one focused solely on the Awakening Movement in the area, the formation of the Sons of Iraq, and the clearing of what would become our operating environment: Mada'in Qada. While the first article derived from these notes was published last July in the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, it only draws from and references the interview material as source and subject material. I think that one of the best ways to get a window into the Awakenings is to simply post the interview that dealt solely with them. For those that might have concerns: these are not raw field notes, rather they are transcribed interviews. I have cleaned them up, included editor's notations in parentheses when appropriate, and in other transcribed interviews have obscured the identity of the subject of the engagement when asked to do so by that individual. All of these forty-five formal interviews, as well as the dozens of more informal ones I conducted with non-elites, are unclassified and in this case (as in the majority of the formal interviews) I have written permission to attribute the interview to the subject I was engaging with. Before I get into the details I do want to thank my team mates, many of whom accompanied and assisted me with these engagements (Brian, Gene, Dana, Billy, and Larry - you are all the best), as well as the men and women of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division who kept us safe while we were doing our jobs; may they always Strike Hard!
The interview that follows was conducted between myself and Qais Shather Khmees al Jabouri. Qais, a retired Iraqi Army brigadier general, is also referred to as Sheikh Qais. His cousin Sheikh Sammi Abbas al Jabouri is the Grand Sheikh of the Jabouris in the area. Additionally, Qais is fluent in English and we conducted the whole interview in English. In the interview Qais references a number of other individuals in the area - his cousin Mahmoud Jablowi who was killed by a formed IED placed in his car in the late Summer of 2009, Sayeed Khadum al Dinanawi from Nahrwan, and a variety of company, battalion, and brigade officers. I will not identify the latter by name as they had all redeployed long before I conducted the interview, I know only a few of them (the battalion and brigade commanders), and do not have their permission to identify them. The battalions that Sheikh Qais referred to are the 1st Battalion/15th Infantry Regiment, the 3rd Squadron/1st US Cavalry, and the brigade is the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team/3rd Infantry Division. 3HBCT/3ID was the first sustained coalition forces element in the area and the 2BCT/1AD replaced them in the Spring of 2008.
It is important to remember that Sheikh Qais told me what he wanted me to know. While he was the subject of my engagement, I was also his conduit for getting his point of view back to my brigade commander, as well as to the battalion commanders that he routinely dealt with. In 2010 Qais was elected to Iraq's Parliament as a member of the Iraqiyya List and subsequently went into hiding when PM Maliki's government, in an attempt to change the electoral plurality that Iraqiyya had achieved at the polls, issued a warrant for his and two other Iraqiyya members arrest.
Two final notes before we start: 1) I've tried to un-acronym most of this, but just in case: CF is coalition forces, GOI is government of Iraq, SOI is Sons of Iraq, IA is Iraqi Army, NP is National Police, and AQI is al Qaeda in Iraq and 2) because the interview runs five pages, I'm attaching it as a pdf file so it doesn't clutter up SST and push out other recent posts.
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the US Army War College, the US Army, or the US Government
Washington's tergervisations these past several days over the Arab popular revolutions have unveiled the core American attitudes toward the Middle East. Unwittingly, we have let the veils drop one by one as we perform an artless improvised dance around the serial crises.
Here is how I sum it up.
1. The United States has been a patron power of the status quo. In the current setting, we are transformed into a reactionary power. All and sundry from the Arab 'street' to the Arab divan see that. Only the American political class doesn't. Only they believe that that jerry-built structure is seismic resistant.
2. The underlying reason is our three obsessions: Terrorism, Iran and Israel - as alluded to in an earlier post. Nothing that is happening has made the slightest qualification in that mindset. Hence, we quietly bless Mr. Saleh and the Bahraini royal family as we did Mr. Suleiman and the fading memory of the dying Mr. Mubarak. Mr. Gates did not fly to Bahrain to bid a fond farewell to anyone but rather to be in on the establishment of a GCC protectorate to keep those Iran inspired Shi'ites in their deferential place. From now all, all our rhetoric bout democracy & freedom in the region will cause acute digestive revulsion.
3. The Obama fear of the unknown is palpable in our abandonment of the Libyans to the tender mercies of Ghadaffi. We could not be moved by the surprising Anglo-French prod; we could not be moved by the shocking display of Arab League unity in calling for what we do not want to do. At ease with one's own shamelessness makes it all quite easy.
4. Most distressing to me is that we have settled on this course not through a process of deliberation but through inertia. That inertia is conceptual and temperamental. I doubt that Obama personally has the courage, imagination or personality to embark on something new and untried and risky. He just wants it all to go away - as with the BP oil spill, the financial crisis, and anything else that distracts him from the preoccupation of playing President as long as he possibly can. And there are no creative strategists within hailing distance to suggest otherwise.
5. For a decade, we have looked like players of a bizarre arcade video game where the goal is to shoot yourself in the foot as many times as possible. Extra points for a disabling injury. At this pastime, we are nonpareils.
Looks like we are nearly there. 1848 in Europe? (look it up). A wave of insurrections not connected except for a general desire for greater opportunity, Is this it? Clinton as Metternich? That would seem strange. What price loyalty?
Saudi troops in Bahrein, Salih resolute in Sanaa. Qathafi advancing in Libya.
This sounds to me as though the "dog whistles' have sounded in Washington. Stability over all!! Whose whistles are these?
- Oil companies
- The Arab despots.
- State Department gutlessness.
- US Armed forces unwillingness to do more (read moral illiteracy)-
- US Civilian unwillingness to do more (read "I've been bull shitted too often")
You are on your own in Arabia. pl
After doing a bit of research in my sources and completing a modicum of introspective thought I have reached the conclusion that James Clapper was exactly correct in saying that if the situation in Libya is left to its own internal resolution, Qathafi's forces will re-conquer the country and re-establish his rule throughout.
It appears to me that four things are causing the Obama Admin’s foot-dragging on Libya:
1- American collective continuing trauma over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a “feeling” that this would be more of the same which it would not be.
2- Russian and Chinese unwillingness to see collective action on a principle that they think could someday be applied to them.
3- Saudi unwillingness to see another existing Arab go down. Obvious analogy.
4- Israeli government application of the 1% principle in opposing a situation they cannot predict in favor of one that they understand.
Impelled by these factors, the administration and those who wish to do nothing are taking refuge in an appeal to legalisms, validation in international law, the UNSC, NATO, the EU, Arab League and any number of other evasions of responsibility for the catastrophe that the "Freedom Agenda" of the Bush Administration and Obama's coat-trailing in Cairo have brought on through encouragement of revolt.
Arab intellectuals are often a pusillanamous and confused lot. Today on Farid Zakariyah's GPS show, he assembled a panel of these creatures. They managed to say that the United States should encourage FREEDOM! everywhere, everywhere, but that significant military intervention to prevent the defeat of FREEDOM would be unacceptable. The leading exponent of these mutually exclusive positions was one Rami Khouri, a Lebanese editor. He is a great favorite as an opinion giver at the US Army War College. No wonder we are screwed up. pl
I’m in Rome these days. Mostly doing translating for our General Administration and guiding people through the city and the Vatican Museums. And some research on Ethiopia. Have small group going to Jerusalem for Holy Week.
You probably know already a great deal more than I ever would about Ghaddafi and the Israelis. But I recently ran into this:
Seems to make some sense, if not in all details."
I have heard rumors of this, but cannot confirm it. Comments?
1. American idealism always has been central to our self esteem, and to our standing in the minds of other peoples, even as we have acted pragmatically (wisely or otherwise) in pursuit of our national interests. That idealism has been badly eroded at both home and abroad with the deleterious consequences strikingly evident in both spheres.
2. In an evolving world where our relative power of coercion/persuasion is destined to diminish considerably, the intangibles of status and image grow in importance as assets to be used constructively to help shape a responsible multilateral management of world affairs.
3. Our crass conduct in the Greater Middle East during the 9/11 decade has been far more costly in every respect than the Washington punditocracy (or certainly the media) know or admit. The revolutionary wave in the Arab world is a stroke of good fortune given us by the gods. It creates circumstances of historic dimensions wherein we can restore our credibility and our standing as the 'good guys.' Obama and his minions seem to have no awareness of this whatsoever.
4. The challenge is to seize that opportunity while not disregarding our valid, tangible interests that do not fully coincide with our longer term interests in being the godfather and underwriter of democracy in the region. The pivots of our strategic position have been four preoccupations: Terrorism, Iran, Israel and oil. The first three have become obsessions that defy reason and logic. A saner, more reasonable estimation of authentic interests and threats in regard to all three would markedly alter how we balance our divergent concerns and make tradeoffs between short-term and longer-term perspectives. By devaluing the multiform 'war against terrorism,' we lower our stake in Bahrain naval bases, in potentates like Yemen's Saleh, and in keeping Shi'ites at bay wherever they raise their heads.
5. The stickiest issues are raised by Saudi Arabia - because of its key role in the global oil market and because there the fall of the House of Saud could bring to power truly disagreeable people.
6. The Bahrain/Saudi link is there although I lack the expertise to estimate possible spillover effects. I do think, though, that there is no compelling reason to have Mr. Gates personally put the American imprimatur on the Bahrainian royal family, or for us to embrace whatever is left of Mr. Saleh's fragile regime.
7. This is the critical moment to fight free of the lethal Israeli embrace. Two passive acts could vastly improve our position in the region and the world: leaving Bahrain and Yemeni rulers to their own devices; lowering the temperature of our campaign against the Mullahs' regime in Iran. Two active acts complement them: calling out the Israeli government; and intervening in Libya. The last is of far greater importance than the place's nominal value. Pat Lang is absolutely correct on this. Nearly everyone in the world outside of the U.S. knows on which side decency lies. They also are looking at the United States to redeem itself. It is not mainly a matter of means but of ends. Very few would mistake a focused, multilateral intervention to turn the military tide there (with no follow-an occupation) with our savaging of Iraq and Afghanistan. Peoples’ instincts usually are truer than we give them credit for. This is especially true when the lines are so sharply drawn and everyone's consciousness heightened.
Dr. Michael Brenner
It appears to me that the US has decided to do nothing for the Libyan rebels in a military way. The ships being positioned in the Med will evacuate refugees, etc. The abandonment of the Libyan rebels by the US will signal the beginning of the end to American power in the Mediterranean. pl