Today we have had the spectacle on MTP of David Gregory's "exclusive" interview with David Petraeus. Petraeus' charm, and Gregory's puppy-like eagerness to please and be seen as being "on the team" produced a testimonial on the part of NBC "news" to the sacred COIN strategy and the irrelevance of the supposed July 2011 date for the beginning of withdrawal. Gregory repeatedly sought to elicit from Petraeus his willingness to tell Obama that there should be no withdrawal. Petraeus resisted that to some extent, carefully saying that he would give the president his best professional military advice, without taking into account the American political scene." I would think that Obama wold not find that very comforting. In effect what is implied is that Petraeus can impose his views on the president. That may be true. We will see. pl
MSNBC needs to get rid of Mika Brezsinski. She is a bullying, self righteous scold who reminds of the stereotypical "soccer mom." Her nasty sniping at guests on the show is usually petty and reminiscent of the way your dear old mom would talk to you at the dining room table.
The network should replace her with an intelligent woman who can hold her own in the kind of circles that "Morning Joe" attracts. I suggest Savannah Guthrie.
BTW, the program is far too "New York." pl
CNN fired the inoffensive Nasr because she foolishly sent out one of the idiotically simplistic messages that "Twitter" was designed to propagate. Anyone who uses that platform is asking for some incident like this. She is a Lebanese Christian. In Lebanon Hizbullah is a major player in politics as well as a terrorist organization. In that context it is not so surprising that she would describe Fadlallah as a "giant." In the very small milieu of Lebanese politics he was a giant. The hasbara got her. Several of them pointed out her tweet. The lobby bitched to CNN and they fired her as part of the general decline and inevitable eventual death of the network. This dismissal is just another symptom of disintegration and evolution into a wholly "owned" subsidiary of AIPAC/Israel, but then, why should CNN be different from the rest of the MSM.
We should note that Nasr did not say anything negative about Israel. We are way past the issue of "defamation" now. What we see in this incident is the ambition to control the content of people's minds. plhttp://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/07/the-policing-of-the-discourse.html
"Thomas caused an uproar with her recent remarks that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Poland, Germany, America and "everywhere else."
"I think she should and has apologized," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said at the daily briefing today. "Obviously those remarks do not reflect, certainly, the opinion of, I assume, most of the people in here, and certainly not of the administration."
Since Thomas made the comment in a May 27 interview with RabbiLive.com, former U.S. officials and fellow columnists had called for her suspension from the White House press briefings, where she has her own front-row, center seat. Thomas, 89, is given special privileges due to her long-standing service as a journalist. She has covered every president since John F. Kennedy."
It was a stupid thing to say. It was also a bad thing to say. i have had Arabs say that to me of the Israeli Jews. I have tried various responses. One is to point out that most Israeli Jews of today's population were born in the land. What makes them less Palestinian than the Arabs, the handful of Armenians, Druze, Chechens, etc.? I have tried pointing out the similarity of situation of the Jewish settler population of Palestine and the European descended populations of North America, Australia, etc. Should we all go "home" as well? Incomprehension always seems to be result of this discussion. I suppose that the question of whose ox is being gored has a lot to do with this incomprehension. BTW, I am equally unimpressed by the "God gave us the land" argument. I don't think that God is in the real estate field.
It was time for Thomas to retire. Her foolish remark shows that, but what should concern us all is that her words resulted in a wave of hostility that ended with a denunciation from the White House itself.
Speech is no longer free in the United States. This is a "muffled zone." plhttp://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Media/helen-thomas-resigns-telling-israeli-jews-home/story?id=10847378
"Ware discussed his PTSD in a disturbing December 2008 Men's Journal piece. “I am not the same f**king person," reads the lead.
It's unclear exactly how long he's been on leave, but the last update on his personal website was on Dec. 18, 2009.
Ware is a successful and well-loved correspondent, and fans have been getting curious about his absence.
Indeed, All Things CNN writes:
His work for CNN over the past four years has been an astonishing and brutally honest look at the causes and results of war. Not easy subject matter to watch… but he made us care. His urgency and passion burst through our television sets and made us pay attention, made us want to understand.
You'd think that given CNN's ratings troubles it would be doing anything it can to give the viewers what they want." Business Insider
Ware is "not the same f**king person." Of course not; how could he be? Some memories are burned on the soul, forever. His reporting was always the best rivaled only by that of Richard Engel. CNN seems to have lost its way, converted into a vehicle for propaganda. I guess Mike's unblinking, profane and fearless reporting was just too much for them. plhttp://www.businessinsider.com/cnns-guy-in-iraq-michael-ware-has-left-the-network-2010-4#ixzz0mTuDA1Q6
""If these reports turn out to be true, we are going to have to review the full range of tools that are available to us in order to make Syria reverse what would be an incendiary, provocative action," Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, moments after making a strong pitch for the first U.S. ambassador in Damascus since 2005. Administration officials have suggested that the Scuds may not have reached Hezbollah in Lebanon; in that case the strong statements may be preventative. What is known for sure is that Syria has facilitated the transfer of thousands of rockets and missiles to Hezbollah since 2006 in blatant violation of the U.N. resolution that ended that summer's war in Lebanon. So why persist with the "engagement" policy? "President Assad is . . . making decisions that could send the region into war," was Mr. Feltman's answer. "He's listening to Ahmadinejad. He's listening to Hassan Nasrallah. He needs to listen to us, too.""
"If these reports turn out to be true..."
Well, are they or aren't they? Israel asserts that Syria has transferred some of these old, liquid fueled ballistic missiles to Hizbullah to drag around in the hills, fiddling with the dangerous fuel and oxidizers. What would be the point? Hizbullah is already in possession of a large and effective collection of short and long range rocketry.
Israel is an interested party in this matter. Are we to take their word for it? What does US intelligence say of this?
This Hiatt editorial quoted Jeffrey Feltman a lot. Feltman's bias is clear. Why is he still at the State Department as Assistant Secretary for the Near East? Don't we need a new ambassador in Iceland? plhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/25/AR2010042503106.html
"On April 14 Comedy Central broadcast the 200th episode of “South Park,” a cartoon that Trey Parker and Matt Stonehave produced for that channel since 1997. In honor of the occasion, Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone populated the episode with nearly all the famous people their show has lampooned in its history, including celebrities like Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand, as well as major religious figures, like Moses, Jesus and Buddha.
Cognizant that Islam forbids the depiction of its holiest prophet, Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker showed their “South Park” characters agonizing over how to bring Muhammad to their fictional Colorado town. At first the character said to be Muhammad is confined to a U-Haul trailer, and is heard speaking but is not shown. Later in the episode the character is let out of the trailer, dressed in a bear costume.
The next day the “South Park” episode was criticized by the group Revolution Muslim in a post at its Web site,revolutionmuslim.com. The post, written by a member named Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee, said the episode “outright insulted” the prophet, adding: “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid, and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”
Mr. van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker and a critic of religions including Islam, was killed by an Islamic militant in Amsterdam in 2004 after he made a film that discussed the abuse of Muslim women in some Islamic societies." NY Times
I am not a Muslim, but I have been a student of the religion and the civilization influenced by it for many years. I often lecture on these subjects. I lecture from the point of view of a respectful but skeptical outsider. I would expect a Muslim lecturer to take the same approach to speaking of Christianity or any other religion. Prince Hassan of Jordan's excellent book, "Christianity in the Arab World" would be a good example.
Having said that, I, nevertheless, think that "Revolution Muslim's" posting of Talhah al-Amrikee's statement is a thinly disguised death threat intended to intimidate free speech. The sub-text here is that some speech should be freer than other speech and that speech with regard to Islam should not be free at all, but, rather, should be limited by the opinion of Muslims as to what Islam really is and its applicability to all people.
I think "South Park" is sophomoric and vulgar. John Stewart and Colbrt are true political satirists. Stewart's show is gradually divesting itself of some of the gross thematic material and language of the past. I have not heard him cry out "NAMBLA" for a while. Colbert is a formidable adversary for anyone who wants to debate. The only time I have seen him flustered was the occasion when Jane Fonda sashayed to his side of the table, sat in his lap and nibbled on his ear.
In short, "South Park" is a "dog's breakfast," but in a secular, religion neutral society that believes that speech must be free if people are to be free, threats like this should be taken seriously by prosecutors and police. If this kind of thing is tolerated, how long will it be before some zealot stands up in an audience to threaten me for describing Islam as I understand it?
"Crying fire in a crowded theater" is outside the limits of free speech but this is not that. plhttp://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/arts/television/23park.html
The rest of the editorial is marginally interesting. At this point the incompetence of the intelligence effort in Afghanistan no longer surprises.
You may remember that the Rumsfeld Pentagon had a highly developed PR and IO program that cultivated a number of groups of "opinion makers" so as to manage the "information battle" as they think of it. Journalists, retired military people, etc. Many millions of dollars were spent in contracts for "Information Operations" both external and implicitly internal. Eventually, the retired military briefings, meetings and distribution of talking points routine surfaced and a number of retired military people lost consultant contracts to the media. I was invited to one meeting in Rumsfeld's conference room. I asked questions and was not invited back. This was about a year after the invasion of Iraq. I had always wondered how some of the ex military I was on television with were so precisely informed. I found out at the meeting. They were briefed in detail regularly by the responsible senior officials including Rumsfeld himself. Interestingly, motives for the retired officers participating were not altogether mercenary. A lot of them believed it was their duty to fill the media with the unattributed assertions of the Defense Department and thus to participate in the war effort. A frightening thing. The armed forces are the most trusted institutions in the United States. To risk that for a momentary advantage and in service to the politics of the civilian side of the Pentagon was folly.
Now, we have Mullen, a political officer if there ever was one, carrying Ignatius around so as to "inform him." How many others are so "informed?."
Ignatius is usually the property of the CIA's information program. He carries their water.
I guess he is "branching out." plhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/31/AR2010033102991.html
"...it is becoming evident that Mr. Erdogan's commitment to democratic principles and Western values is far from complete. As Turkey's prospects of joining the European Union have dimmed, the government's foreign policy has taken a nasty turn: Shrill denunciations of Israel have been accompanied by increasing coziness with the criminal rulers of Iran, Syria and Sudan." Washpost editorial
It should be well established here now that I do not favor any US alliances with political Islamists. They always seek to disguise their ultimate goals which are:
1- Establish a sharia law state.
2- Retain power at all costs
For Islamists all else is mere tactical maneuver.
Having said that, it is nevertheless clear that today's lead Washington Post editorial is a clumsy expression of neocon and Likudnik displeasure with Turkey's rather minimal show of independence of Israeli influence.
"Shrill denunciations of Israel have been accompanied by increasing coziness with the criminal rulers of Iran, Syria and Sudan"
The first underlined phrase reveals the true nature of the Post editorial page's displeasure.
The inclusion of the present Syrian government in this list of "bad boys" is particularly revealing. Bashar Assad may be a lot of things, but "criminal" is a charge unproven. In fact, he has consistently tried to follow a course leading to peace with Israel. That attempt has been obstructed by both the US and Israeli governments. A description of Bashar Assad as a "criminal" is an unproven act of libel by what has become an editorial page devoted to foreign interests. pl
That is nonsensical. The signed agreement with the Iraqi government specifies the terms of coalition withdrawal. It contains a firm time line. The US is a party to that agreement. It is an obligation binding under international law.
President Obama stated publicly and for the record that by the end of 2011 he intends to have all US troops out of Iraq. There was very little "flex" in the way he stated this matter. The word "intend" had to be in his declaration because he was not, in fact, born in a stable and laid to rest in a manger. He does not know the future. I presume that if the overly large embassy in Baghdad were besieged by mobs, there might be some sympathy for keeping enough troops in the country to secure it until the crisis passes?
On "Meet the Press" the week after Obama's declaration, Secretary Gates was asked if the agreement with Iraq could be modified before the end of 2011. His reply was clear. The agreement can only be modified by joint agreement of the parties. In other words, the agreement is unlikely to be modified unless the Iraqi government wants some specific change in it. What might that be? They may want us to keep enough logistical soldiers in the country to keep their forces supplied, maintained, etc. Similar requests are possible. Incidentally, there are no non-combat troops except chaplains, their assistants, non-SF medics and the like. What the media people mean by "combat troops" are soldiers who are serving in units that have no function other than fighting, infantry, armor, etc.
Some people want to think that we may not withdraw fully because the generals might not like it. People who think that do not understand the political system in America. Bush and Co. were foolish enough to hide behind rhetoric that said that the generals were in charge of policy about Iraq. That was nonsense then and it would be nonsense now if the Obama Administration were foolish enough to say something that implied a concession of policy decision making to the "generals." Every flag officer in the armed forces knows that the first time he/she resists a fully formed presidential decision will be the last.
No. We are out in 2012. pl
"Conventional wisdom says that when Israel went into Lebanon in 2006, it lost that war. Hezbollah stood up to the mighty Israeli army; Israel could not muzzle Hezbollah's rockets. That may not be the way Hezbollah sees things, however. After the war, its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said he had miscalculated. He was not prepared for the fury of the Israeli attack. He apologized. Now, Hezbollah takes no role in the current war. It will be back, but it still has wounds to lick. " Richard Cohen
What a crock! Revionist history of the worst kind!
Nasrallah apologized to the LEBANESE people for having given Israel the excuse to unleash a country wide stategic bombing campaign. That campaign attempted to destroy the national will of the Lebanese to resist the intimidation that is the continuing policy of the Israelis. That policy was the keynote of the Bush Administration's effort to advance the interests of factions in Lebanon and Syria that would meekly bow to Jerusalem and Washington and accept a peace, not of equals and potential friends, but rather a peace imposed upon an "inferior race."
Cohen thinks that the IDF was not defeated in Lebanon? No?
- They caused the complete integration of Hizbullah into the Lebanese govenment as the dominant factor.
- They were unable to "move" the Hizbullah village defense battalions on the battlefield. (They never met the main forces of Hizbullah) The IDF's soldiers fought poorly against Hizbulah.
- The psychological effect of strategic failure and tactical stalemate on Israel's ability to maintain itself amongst a sea of enemies was devastating. The Israelis know that the logic of ths development weighs heavily on their future as a state. This operation in Gaza is as much about instilling fear of israel among the Muslims as anything else.
As I have written before, the main issue in the Middle East hangs in the balance in Gaza. Israel and its propagandists like Cohen know that. If Israel can not restore its image and self-image by dominating the outcome, then Israel's future will be permanently affected for good or ill.
Perhaps that would lead to a new beginning. pl
After travel, I am catching up on my NY Times reading and discovered that someone left the editorial keyboard unguarded at the NY Times and a miscreant wrote a budget cutting list for the U.S. military. (Editorial, December 20).
I find myself irritated when pseudo knowledge is mixed with decent thinking. The vision in this editorial is to bolster our land forces by shifting funds out of sexy and/or unneeded Air Force and Navy programs. There is a kernel of good in this tome, as it points out the serious imbalance in our land forces investment. Alas, much of the list of cuts (and why these cuts) comes from some ideological cloud formation that isn’t in the METARS training I received in private pilot school. The correct information is available with a little journalistic work and subscriptions to Aviation Week and Jane’s. To have the Times slip to this level of sloppiness is simply disgusting.
For the sake of brevity, one tawdry example, on the production of the F-22 Raptor.
The Times writes:
End production of the Air Force’s F-22. The F-22 was designed to ensure victory in air-to-air dogfights with the kind of futuristic fighters that the Soviet Union did not last long enough to build. The Air Force should instead rely on its version of the new high-performance F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which comes into production in 2012 and like the F-22 uses stealth technology to elude enemy radar.
Until then, it can use upgraded versions of the F-16, which can outperform anything now flown by any potential foe. The F-35 will provide a still larger margin of superiority. The net annual savings: about $3 billion.
I am heartily tired of said unwashed repeating that a system was designed for the Cold War and that this simple mantra is proof that a system is gold plated, overly complicated and complete overkill for our needs. Let’s deal with some ugly facts.
The F-22 is expensive but has superior stealth to the F-35. Its major flaw is that it took a decade of development to get it into the war fighter’s hands. What was a leap forward avionics package is now only a middling improvement, compared to the F-35. The processor speeds on the F-35 are miles ahead, and its AESA radar performance will be as well. The F-22 already verges on obsolescence in that phase. And I shudder to think of the cost of updating the avionics in the Raptor and how long that might take. The fact is, ultimately, it just doesn’t carry enough ordnance. It will have to be mixed into packages of other missile carrying aircraft, stealthy or not, who can rely on it to front the strike package and use linkage to identify and target. But it has range, more than planned for the F-35. It is a force multiplier. The continuing production decision is complicated but sure as hell not worthy of being decided by the vapidness fronted by this editorial.
Our intrepid editors also confidently inform us that the early 70’s, non-stealthy F-16 is superior to any other airplane flown by our enemies and should be continued to be acquired. I suspect the miscreant/editors haven’t thought about the AESA radars being used by Russian or Chinese aircraft with very effective long range air to air missiles or the threat of double digit Russian SAMs that have 150 mile plus ranges. Or that said planes and missiles are cheerfully and assiduously exported. The list of friendly folks who have acquired advanced Sukhoi aircraft and SAMs include Venezuela and Indonesia. And, India's SU's, participating in Red Flag training, show some superior abilities to our F-15Cs.
The ultimate intellectual bankruptcy of the editor shows up in this final fact. The F-16 is used almost exclusively in air to ground roles and the F-22 is a pure air superiority fighter. Its fourth generation counterpart is the F-15. They couldn’t even get that right.
I want to believe that the amount of fact checking I have to do when reading the Times is somewhat nominal, so I can deal with the ideological differences when reading. I have been abused of that notion. Fool me once….
On Fox News Sunday (FNS) today, Bill Kristol, the Jacobin publisher of the "Weekly Standard" said "I was invited to Fort Hood with a small group to talk to General Odierno who is taking over in Iraq..."
Several months ago it became a matter of passing media attention that Rumsfeld's Defense Department had for years been briefing a hand picked group of retired officers on a regular basis to prepare them for their roles as on and off screen commentators on the military aspects of Bush Administration foreign policy. At these briefing meetings(often held in the Secretary of Defense's own conference room) talking points on issues of the day were discussed and talking points were distributed or faxed and e-mailed to participants.
I was invited to one of these meetings in the time frame of the Abu Ghraib crisis and sat in on a couple of conference calls. I was disinvited after that. Why? I really don't know. Maybe someone did not like my questions? I wrote about this phenomenon several years ago on this blog and that was repeated at "No Quarter."
In my opinion, Kristol is not shy in pushing for an attack on Iran. He thinks that diplomacy is another word for weakness and merely a preparation of public opinion for military action to come. This was much the same view that he expressed before the Iraq War.
Why was Kristol invited by the Defense department to Ft. Hood, Texas to talk to Odierno? Who were the other member of the "small group" who were invited? Why does Odierno want to talk to such a group privately? Is Odierno involved in information operations in the United States?
I am surprised that Secretary Gates would countenance such shenanigans. pl
"Three years into the Iraq war, Richard Engel was holding down the fort as NBC's Baghdad bureau chief when a top producer in New York, M.L. Flynn, told him there was "tremendous pressure" in the newsroom to lighten up his coverage."
"It was all about getting good-news stories out there," Engel says. "There was a collective impression that all the journalists were getting it wrong. It quickly spread to the blogosphere and the world of punditry. It seemed orchestrated."
Despite the feedback, Engel says NBC executives never directly pressed him to change his approach to the violence in Iraq. But in recent weeks he has found himself under assault by the White House over the editing of an interview with President Bush-- the same president who had once invited him to the Oval Office to seek his advice about the interminable conflict."
"Beyond the physical risks, he also had to defend himself in the media echo chamber. Engel says he and other correspondents once again came under attack in 2006 and 2007 from bloggers and radio hosts who wanted a more positive portrait of the war." Howard Kurtz
I think Engel's experience was rather widespread. "Concerted?" I can't prove it yet but I would venture to say that the same kind of apparatus that sought to bend the media in many other ways also sought to intimidate journalists often through corporate media headquarters.
How? A threat of denial of access to government officials, an implied or direct indication of regulatory favor or disfavor, the threat or actuality of granted or denied advertising dollars by sympathetic clients. Fill in your own list.
Yes. We have freedom of the news media in the United States. Unfortunately, this freedom is tempered by the ability of the powerful and wealthy to bend the free media to their will.
This not something new. Take a look at the way John Adams and the Federalists dealt with media they did not like, the way Wilson dealt with dissenters in wartime and how newspapers hostile to the Union cause were treated by the Lincoln Administrations. pl