Adam L. Silverman
The link to the live feed of Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech to Congress is here at CSPAN.
Adam L. Silverman
Since I can't find a transcript of Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech this morning to post, here's a link the video of it Mediate. I tried to embed it, but I can't get Typepad to take the URL. As soon as I can find a transcript, I'll update. Play nice in the comments...
-- Update --
The transcript can finally be found in online. I've pulled it from The Algemeiner. Full text below the fold. Tomorrow's address to Congress will be at 10:45 AM EST, same Bibi time, same Bibi station...
Adam L. Silverman
As we wait for the substantive portions of Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to the US to get fully underway it is important to remember that this is not the first time that an Israeli prime minister from the Likud Party has tried to politically roll the President of the US (h/t to Steve M). Back in August 1981 the US was set to sell AWACs planes to Saudi Arabia. Menachem Begin, and many other Israelis, were quite concerned about this. After making unsuccessful appeals to President Reagan to abort the sale, Prime Minister Begin went around the President and behind his back to Congress. This was after one of President Reagan's advisors specifically warned him not to try maneuvering around him. The specific advisor, Jacob Stein, was reported to have explicitly told Begin: "that Reagan and the U.S. Administration would view a continued Israeli policy to persuade Senators and Congressmen to oppose the aircraft sale as a personal affront to Reagan himself." As Steve M reported several weeks ago at his site, President Reagan in his own post-presidential memoirs referred to this incident. President Reagan specifically wrote on page 415 that "I don't like having representatives of a foreign country - any foreign country - trying to interfere in what I regarded as our domestic political process and the setting of our foreign policy."
Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit, built around a speech to Congress in an attempt to influence the US's domestic political process and the setting of America's foreign policy, is not a new trick for an Israeli prime minister. He's merely following in the footsteps of Israel's first Likud prime minister - Menachem Begin. Unfortunately, as Chemi Shalev wrote at Haaretz back in 2011, if President Obama responded in a manner similar to the way that President Reagan did, he would be impeached. More's the pity as the US/Israeli relationship continues to grow ever more dysfunctional and unbalanced.
After sleeping on it and going back and rereading Shalev's article I think I would have preferred to have written that some people would call for President Obama's impeachment if he treated Israel the way that President Reagan did. Of course in DC they just call that Tuesday...
1 Image of President Reagan and Prime Minister Begin walking together was found here.
"AIPAC prepared a detailed presentation that was given to Netanyahu with all the negative repercussions they believe would result from the controversial invitation to Congress and the cumulative damage. On Feb. 25 behind closed doors, one of the heads of AIPAC said, to paraphrase: All the things we warned him of, are materializing. We foresaw the domino effect that took place, the boycott by more and more Democratic Congress members, the significant deterioration in relations with Democratic legislators, the talks about boycotting the AIPAC convention (that is also being held at the beginning of March) by the administration. We protested, we warned. And who wasn't impressed? Netanyahu. He’s coming.
In anticipation of the speech, the sides have been increasing the stakes on an almost daily basis. First, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Feb. 24 that Netanyahu’s speech is “destructive to the fabric of the relationship” between the two countries. She added, “The relationship between the US and Israel has always been bipartisan and we have been fortunate that politics have not been injected into this relationship. But what has happened over the last several weeks … is that on both sides there have been injected some degree of partisanship.”" Al-Monitor
AIPAC thinks that the speech to Congress in defiance of the president is a bad idea? Really? If that is so, then who, pilgrims, thinks it a good idea? Is it Derner, the former American who is now Israeli ambassador in Washington? Is it Bonehead, errr Boehner? This man can't get his own caucus to vote to fund DHS. Is it the WAR PARTY among the menagerie of Rotary Club strategists, xenophobes (except for Israelis) and primitive Saracen haters that now seem to be the Republican Base? Is there any doubt that Israel's political position will be damaged by the arrogance and contempt displayed for American government in this adventure? pl
"“What the president objects to is not that Mr. Netanyahu will speak to Congress, but the content of what he intends to say,” Dershowitz argues, dismissing protocol objections by noting that “President Obama sent British Prime Minister David Cameron to lobby Congress with phone calls last month against conditionally imposing new sanctions on Iran if the deal were to fail.” He adds that Congress has full constitutional authority to participate in foreign policy and invite speakers.
Dershowitz has harsh words for those Democrats–fewer than two dozen–who are planning to boycott the speech.
“As a liberal Democrat who twice campaigned for President Barack Obama, I am appalled,” he declares, warning that they are turning Israel into a partisan issue. “This will not only hurt Israel but will also endanger support for Democrats among pro-Israel voters. I certainly would never vote for or support a member of Congress who walked out on Israel’s prime minister.”
Dershowitz has twice endorsed Obama for president, but has also warned repeatedly that Obama could become America’s version of Neville Chamberlain if he allowed Iran to become a nuclear power.
Obama’s promise to prevent that “seems to be in the process of being broken,” Dershowitz notes, “as reports in the media and Congress circulate that the deal on the table contains a sunset provision that would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons after a certain number of years." Breitbart
IMO Dershowitz is a rational man until what he sees as Israel's interest is involved, then he begins to threaten and snarl at those who on any other issue would be his "friends."
He threatens the president of the United States and members of Congress over the interests of a foreign country?
It appears that for him Israel is not a foreign country. pl
"Genêt's goals in South Carolina were to recruit and arm American privateers who would join French expeditions against the British. He commissioned four privateering ships in total, including the Republicaine, the Anti-George, the Sans-Culotte, and the Citizen Genêt. Working with French consul Michel Ange Bernard Mangourit, Genêt organized American volunteers to fight Britain's Spanish allies in Florida. After raising a militia, Genêt set sail toward Philadelphia, stopping along the way to marshal support for the French cause and arriving on May 18. He encouraged Democratic-Republican societies, but President Washington denounced them and they quickly withered away.
His actions endangered American neutrality in the war between France and Britain, which Washington had pointedly declared in his Neutrality Proclamation of April 22. When Genêt met with Washington, he asked for what amounted to a suspension of American neutrality. When turned down by Secretary of StateThomas Jefferson and informed that his actions were unacceptable, Genêt protested. Meanwhile, Genet's privateers were capturing British ships, and his militia was preparing to move against the Spanish.
Genêt continued to defy the wishes of the United States government, capturing British ships and rearming them as privateers. Washington sent Genet an 8,000-word letter of complaint on Jefferson's and Hamilton's advice " Wiki on Genet
It has been a long time since a foreign political leader or ambassador attempted to seize control of American foreign policy on behalf of his own government's desires. In Genet's time even the Francophiles like Jefferson rejected foreign interference in our affairs. Today, the Zionist 5th column advances the foreign leader's agenda. pl
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Several recipients of my analysis of and policy recommendations on the Ukrainian crisis have have hit on a serious point --my suggestion that in the course of the process aimed at ending the crisis the Ukraine should be considered for membership in the European Union. A few people have doubted that Russia would be prepared to allow it. Their attitude is necessarily at this point uncertain or unknown. Since everyone agrees that the crisis is very serious and I believe this may be a crucial piece of any solution, let me explain my suggestion:
1) To succeed in the major objectives, which I believe are to (a) prevent a slide back into the Cold War, b) prevent further actual and potential clashes between Russia and the West and between Russia and the Ukraine and (c) help in the limited way we can to make the Ukraine into a viable and reasonably healthy and secure nation-state, we need to put together a package;
2) That package cannot be seen by any party -- the leaders of the governments of the US, the EU, NATO, Russia or the Ukraine -- as a humiliation; so there must be something in a successful negotiation and outcome for everyone. As we all know from our daily experiences at our individual level, lopsided deals don't work or last very long;
3) I believe that the Russians will demand, and are right to do so, that the Ukraine forswear joining NATO and that we -- the EU and the US -- affirm clearly and unequivocally that commitment and our obligation not to encourage it;
4) I believe that the leaders of the Ukrainian, the US and probably of the member states of the EU will seek and feel they will need for their own domestic political purposes some sort of at least cosmetic reward for their commitment on the NATO abstention;
The Atlantic recently published an extended article by Graeme Woods on ISIS and its theology. Woods attempts, through his reporting, to ascertain what is it that ISIS is really on about, what does it really have to do with Islam, and what does this tell us about what ISIS is actually interested in achieving. Overall, I think Woods piece is important and thought provoking, but that it is missing some important things. The reason I think its important is that Woods both argues for taking ISIS's statements regarding Islam at face value and actually does so. This is significant in that it forces part of the discussion back to several important questions: what is ISIS's actual connection to Islam? how does this relate to the different variants of Sunni Islam in the region? how does this relate to how Sunni Muslims in other parts of the world understand their religion and how to navigate the modern world in ways that are compatible with their religion? what, if anything, can we learn by comparing and contrasting these differences?
Woods' reporting gets to some of these questions and teases the others. What he does not do, however, is directly confront that no religion is monolithic in the 21st Century. As has often been discussed her at SST, there is no single, monolithic Islam. As a result of ijma, or consensus, each Sunni community essentially establishes their own variant of Islamic Law and practice that makes sense in the context of the time and place that they live in. The only Sunni variants that downplay the role of ijma are Wahabbiya and its extremist offshoots - best represented by ISIS and al Qaeda. The ability to pull different portions of one's religious tradition, give them salience, and utilize them occurs because religion, like other forms of identity, are contextual. They have to be able to allow the adherent to navigate the world they actually live in, not just speak and respond to events that existed in the past. Every successful religion, ideology, and philosophy does this. In the case of ISIS, what they are doing is taking different pieces from the Islamic tradition, recontextualizing them, and arguing that the way to not only deal with the 21st Century, but to achieve an idealized and glorified future, is to establish a way of life that is a pastiche made up of pieces from an idealized past.
ISIS, however, does not get the last word. A number of very prominent Muslims, including many mujtahids and scholars, have come out and argued that ISIS has made a hash of Sunni tradition and practice, as well as Islamic history. Over 100 prominent Muslim scholars have even sent an open letter to al Baghdadi refuting his theological, dogmatic, and historical interpretation and presentation of Islam as incorrect and dangerous (the English translation is attached as a pdf below).
There are a couple of portions of Woods' reporting that I would like to highlight for just a moment or two. The first is that ISIS is a millennialistic/apocalyptic movement. Woods posits, based on interviews and review of ISIS's materials, that ISIS seeks to bring about and capitalize on the Islamic understanding of the end of days. While Woods is correct to argue that this is a powerful motivating force while recognizing that it can also be fragile too, I think it needs further drawing out. I wrote my master's thesis in religious studies on millenialistic/apocalyptic movements. What all of them have in common is that they do not and cannot handle failure well. Woods mentions that should the glorious Islamic triumph to be fought against Rome, which is to be fought in Syria, not occur or not be successful, this could lead to a splintering of ISIS. My masters' research indicates that, if anything, Woods is understating this reality. Every movement I looked at - for the literature and thematic review to the actual six case studies - all demonstrated just how delicate apocalyptic movements are. One of the most seminal works on the subject is entitled When Prophecy Fails for a reason. It charts several movements and what happens when the prophesied end time events failed to occur. Spoiler alert: nothing good! Whether it was the medieval Jewish messianic sect of Shabatai Zevi or the Millerites who emerged from the Great Awakening in the Burnt Over District of New York - all it takes is failing to achieve one critical event and things will fall apart. Sometimes, like the Seventh Day Adventists arising from the failure of the Millerites when the Rapture failed to occur twice, these groups survive. Other times they are brutally suppressed. Even worse is when they are resurrected like the Branch Davidians a millennialistic/apocalyptic offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists.
In the old days, political differences between countries were more often than not settled by war. That was only natural - under the ius ad bellum the right to go to war was an imperative of a monarch, which he was entitled to use as he saw fit and which was regarded as a normal tool of statecraft. And even then there were limits - possibly the first trial for waging aggressive war is that of Conradin von Hohenstaufen in 1268. One could do a lot of mischief, but not just as one pleased.
Over time the European practice of Cabinet Wars emerged - a type of war which affected Europe during the period of absolute monarchies, from the 1648 Peace of Westphalia to the 1789 French Revolution. These wars were characterised by small armies, noble officer corps, limited war goals, and frequently changing coalitions among the belligerents. There was a policy dispute over inheritance or a boundary, war was being declared (usually very politely), fought and settled. Wikipedia's entry sums it up rather well:
The Thirty Years' War, based on religious conflict, had been marked by wild plunders and marauding armies. Order was reestablished by the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which formulated the rules of international relations for the next centuries, in particular respective to the laws of war (jus ad bello and jus in bellum). During the Age of Enlightenment and under the direction of the "enlightened despots," wars became more regulated, although the civilian population was still a current victim of mercenaries. Such scenes as the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day massacre became exceptional. Thus, Berlin was not plundered during the Seven Years' War of 1756-1762, despite having fallen into enemy hands not once but twice.
This state of affairs evolved during the era of the formation of nation states in the 19th century ito national wars with citizen particpation and conscript armies. The American Civil War and battles like Solferino (the carnage of which led to Henry Dunant initiating the Geneva Conventions and the Red Cross) offered glimpses into what technological advances in war were to bring in the next century.
" I am even more concerned about the billions we are planning to spend to prepare the homeland in the event of a nuclear first strike. It was a myth that drove the United States and Soviet Union each to build thousands of weapons during the Cold War. Unlikely then. And it’s certainly unlikely now.Nonetheless, the 2016 budget has millions for hardening redundant Air Force and Navy communications so they can survive a hit by a nuclear first strike.
The United States, as Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy says, is investing in “a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.”
The United States shouldn’t spend billions more in the expectation that the deterrence will fail.
It only helps create the impression that this country is preparing for nuclear war, and might strike first." Washpost/Pincus
Just who is it that we think might launch a first strike against us? Russia, China, the UK, France, Pakistan? Iran has no nuclear weapons but the truly paranoid are sure that they are striving mightily to acquire a ballistic missile based capability that would hold at risk Europe and North America.
This continuing theme is, of course, convenient to those who want us to make Israel safe against Iran. Without the "threat to the US" theme the American people and their blundering ham-handed government could not be lured into eternal hostility to the BAD, BAD, IRANIAN SHIA.
If only the Syrian government had a nuclear weapons program!! Sigh... pl
Adam L. Silverman
Before we start, a brief Public Service Announcement: The odds of an American being killed in a terrorist attack is 1 in 3.5 million per year!!!!!!
As has been widely covered just about everywhere, several gunmen attacked the office of a French satirical publication early today. I highly recommend the BBC's, or really any news service's coverage other than the usual American media outlets, to get appropriate, non-hysterical, non-fearmongering coverage. As we see all too often when something happens in the US, our media goes into immediate freak out mode. While this may make for good revenue through advertisement sales, it really does not do much to inform Americans.
Several days ago in his post on James Fallow's recent article, COL Lang remarked about how easily Americans became fearful after 9-11 and how we have remained that way. We have seen that on display today by think tank fellows (h/t SteveM), retired general officers (h/t Zandar), and sitting members of the House (h/t Zandar) and the Senate (h/t Charles Pierce). Today's media coverage, the informed commentary that it contains, and American reactions will follow the same pattern that both COL Lang and Mr. Fallows lamented - more fear driving more poorly thought out policy responses. It is important to remember that the odds of an American being killed in a terrorist attack is 1 in 3.5 million per year!!!!!! Not that a little thing like facts or reality are likely to make any difference.
Finally, before the usual suspects get completely into the swing of things by claiming that Muslims never condemn other Muslims who commit terrorism or who claim their actions are somehow covered under Islam, here's the initial google search result for Muslim, and some Arab, organizations that have already condemned the attacks, even though we are still not sure, other than a witness statement of a screamed "Allahu Akbar" during the attack, who is actually responsible.
Dar al Ifta (Egypt's official fatwa issuing organization)
In the comments to both my post and Walrus's original post on HR 758, Brigadier Ali raised an interesting and important point about another bill that recently passed: House Resolution 5859. Brigadier Ali and several other commenters expressed concern that this bill, which has passed both chambers and is awaiting the President's signature, would require the Administration to provide various forms of defense support to Ukraine. The concern is that this could lead to a further deterioration of relations with Russia. The link to the Congressional information on HR 5859 is here. I've attached the pdf of the bill at the bottom of this post. The first several sections define terms and basically legislative authorize what the Administration has already been doing with sanctions, visa denials, prohibitions on investments, etc.
The pertinent section to Brigadier Ali's concerns is section 6. Section 6, subsection a explicitly states: "The President is authorized (my emphasis) to provide defense articles, defense services, and training to the Government of Ukraine for the purpose of countering offensive weapons and reestablishing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including anti-tank and anti-armor weapons, crew weapons and ammunition, counter-artillery radars to identify and target artillery batteries, fire control, range finder, and optical and guidance and control equipment, tactical troop-operated surveillance drones, and secure command and communications equipment, pursuant to the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.), the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.), and other relevant provisions of law."
The remainder of this section includes a lot of "shalls" and "shoulds". While HR 5859 is not a "sense of the House" bill like 758 is, my reading of its impact on US action vis a vis Ukraine similar to that of 758. It does not require the President to do anything, but it does give him permission to both continue doing what he's been doing and to take additional actions if so desired. All of that said, perhaps it might be good to remember that sanctions are themselves often considered an act of war... That, sobering thought, is, however, a discussion for another day.
Yesterday Walrus posted that the US Congress passed a bill that essentially authorizes war on the Ukraine. After reading his post, the comments, and then the actual text of the legislation, I was pretty sure that Walrus had misunderstood a subtle nuance of the American legislative process. As COL Lang noted in his comments to the original post, since the US is not a parliamentary system, this type of legislation is non-binding. The US Congress passes non-binding measures all the time. A lot of them are feel good constituency servicing, others attempt to get everyone on board some issue that should not be the concern of the Congress. These should be, but are not always, reported on as "sense of the House" or "sense of the Senate" measures. Basically they are a formalized way of telling everyone what the House, Senate, or entire Congress's opinion is of an issue. This is the case with House Resolution 758. I double checked this with a friend who works for Congress. His response was:
"This is a simple (House) resolution, and does not hold the force of law. Basically, the House is expressing its opinion ("Sense of the House") on the issue. Anything they are asking the President to do would not be required like it would be if this was a law and used the word "shall" in instructing the President to do something. That said, by putting themselves on the record like this, the House could use this to try and pressure the President to take certain actions, but I have no way of knowing what that might mean or if it would be at all effective."
For anyone interested the full text of the resolution can be found here.
So, it looks like Carter will be nominated to be SECDEF. The Obamanites would have preferred Flournoy as part of their effort to achieve a grand-slam in the field of "Hope and Change" but the lady decided she was "not for burning." Smart.
Carter is filled with wonderfulness as an academic prodigy, physicist, budgeteer, procurer (in a nice way), etc., but he "don't know s--t from Shinola" about actual war or foreign policy. That last was a quote from one of my old NCO friends.
The industrial part of the fabled military-industrial complex is said to be rejoicing about the prospect of this man handing out contracts. Yes, I am sure it is.
IMO, the prospect of Carter as SECDEF means that McCain is right when he says that Carter simply will not be a player in strategic decision making. That, in turn means that Dempsey's role as chief strategist at the Pentagon will grow to be even larger.
CJCS is not in the chain of command under Goldwater-Nichols but in this situation that seems irrelevant. I think it unlikely that General Austen (CENTCOM) would choose to get crosswise with Dempsey on anything important.
IMO the struggle between the JCS and the Girls Club at the WH will continue with Dempsey being the chief protagonist on the DoD side of the conflict.
There are all kinds of serious matters to be dealt with in the next two years. Presumably the money fight will be ably led by SECDEF. This is the kind of thing that he is well qualified to do, but there are real wars to fight:
"Yemeni Shi'ite Muslim Houthi fighters backed by government forces drove the local wing of al Qaeda from one of its last strongholds in central Yemen on Friday in intense fighting that killed at least 35 people, tribal sources said.
The Houthis' Ansarullah movement has become the main political force in Western-allied Yemen since capturing Sanaa in September and then pushing south and west into the Sunni Muslim heartland of al-Bayda province, where Ansar al-Sharia has allied itself with local tribes.
Yemen has been in turmoil since 2011, to the dismay of neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, and of the Western powers who want to prevent instability in the Arabian peninsula threatening their crude supplies or giving al Qaeda a base for overseas attacks.
Tribal sources said the Houthis had met stiff resistance as they pushed towards the village of Khobza district using Katuysha rockets and heavy artillery.
They said at least 25 Houthis and 10 Ansar al-Sharia and tribal fighters had died in the fighting, which began on Thursday afternoon. Ansar al-Sharia and its allies withdrew to Yakla district, on the border with Maarib province." Reuters
Full disclosure - I was once DEFATT in Yemen at Sanaa.
A primer on some aspects of Yemen:
- Zeidi (fiver) Shia Muslims are so conservative (restrained) religiously that they are sometimes thought of as a fifth Sunni mathab. Their theology and general view of the religious sciences follow the mu'tazilite tradition. They are quite distinct from and have little allegiance to the 12er Shia in Iran, Lebanon and other scattered places.
- From a few miles south of Sanaa to the northern reaches of the country where it "borders" Saudi Arabia the country is almost altogether Zeidi Shia in population. Those people are tough little mountaineers, who are extremely tribal in their lives and who are generally aligned in two major tribal confederations, the Baqil and the Hashid. These tribal confederations are the real power in Yemen north of Sanaa. they possess a lot of military equipment that was mainly stolen from the government when officers who are members of these confederations defected back to their true allegiance taking their gear and often soldiers with them.
- The former president, Ali Abdullah Salih, is a Zeidi tribesman of the Sanhan minor tribe of the Hashid confederation.
- From Sanaa south, Yemen is primarily inhabited by much less tribal villagers who are Sunni and usually of the shafa'i mathab. These folks are the recruiting ground for AQAP, Ansar al-Sharia and similar Sunni salafi jihadi groups for whom the Zaidi tribesmen of the north are just another kind of murtadoon (heretics) to be fought to the death.
- Further complicating the mozaic of groups that is Yemen is the lingering effect of British possession of the Aden crown colony for many years. In the course of that period a lot of Yemenis from Aden attended such schools as the London School of Economics where they became both atheistical and left wing politically. Such people are still on the scene in the cities and continue to be active in the government of a united Yemen.
- The Houthis are a Zeidi Shia reformist movement that draws solely on the Zeidi population of the north. It does not have and cannot have any friendly relations with the Sunni jihadi groups of the south. The movement started in the al-houthi clan and has since spread to the two major confederations of Zeidi tribesmen. The Houthis as a cult prefer not to fight if it can be avoided and captured the capital, Sanaa, with very little violence. Salih, a Zeidi tribesman understandably sides with the Houthis as opposed to the Sunni, left oriented people now running the government of the United Yemen.
- A government of national unity has been formed among; the Houthis and their army, the national army and the nationalist/left dominated functionaries now in office in Sanaa. This coalition is actively and successfully fighting the Sunni jihadis.
The US government response to all this is to denounce the Houthis and Salih as interfering with stability and the integrity of the Yemeni state. This reflects the ignorant, obsessive, insistance of the American foreign policy establishment that "one size fits all" in terms of the norms of governance across the world with the implication that the US embassies in such countries as Yemen are actually pro-consular outposts from which the ambassador/governor guides and controls the province/country in which he/she is located. When this attitude, derived from notions of "exceptionalism," is accompanied by the IR/Poly Sci paradigm of foreign relations now so evident in the US government, the result is the noxious self-defeating environment in which US decisions are now made. pl
Translation of the Houthi logo:
"God is Great
Death to America
Death to Israel
Rejection by God of the Jews
Victory for Islam."
You should not take the words in this too seriously. This is standard populist cant in the Muslim World. pl
“I want the committee to be very active,” Mr. McCain said in an interview after the midterm elections set up Republican control of both houses of Congress. “That’s the beauty of the majority, as you know. Of course we can allocate and authorize certain programs, and we can cut others. The president proposes, and Congress disposes.”
Mr. Obama, as commander in chief, still has the final say in whether American ground troops will be committed to Iraq and Syria; whether the United States will do more to arm moderate rebels in Syria opposed to the government of President Bashar al-Assad; or even whether the United States will take a more muscular posture against Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, over Ukraine." NY Times
Actually, Obama still has the only say about what existing forces will do. The House of representatives initiates all funding for the armed forces. The Congress determines the structure of the armed forces by law, but it has no power to order the armed forces to do anything.
Senator McCain has said he has no conficence in Martin Dempsey, the CJCS. That is unfortunate but McCain cannot fire Dempsey. He can't fire anyone except the poor devils who work for him in congressional staffs.
He will cut defense funding to "discipline" Obama? Ha! Ha!
William R Polk, a distinguished former US diplomat and academic, has recently written a brilliant paper on the dangerous path that the US (and the West) are currently following in international relations, and analyses what is going wrong by discussing three ‘case studies’. He also focusses on the West's current problems in the Muslim world, and discusses their root cause.
Worse, it is likely to be even self-defeating. The more we intervene, the more intense and long-lasting is likely to be the reaction. The more violent our intervention the more long-term damage we are likely to do. The record of the past few years is compelling. The numbers of displaced, wounded, killed, of stunted children, of widespread misery, of the loss of civic decency and the rise of terror among the survivors, of the set-back to the feeble growth of legal, social, cultural and political institutions, of blasted infrastructure which took decades to develop, of the enormous wastage of financial and human resources desperately needed throughout the world and of the often alarming and dangerous impact on fragile ecosystems – all of these make evident the dangers of intervention in situations in which we lack the knowledge, the tools and the acceptability that we often think we have. As the terrifying “joke” of the Vietnam war put it, “we destroyed the village in order to save it.”
And even when we did so to stop the ugliness and viciousness of “the bad guys,” we often resorted to tools and practices that were hardly more humane: like many Americans I carry in my memory the picture of the little Vietnamese girl running down a street on fire from napalm. We used napalm later also in Iraq. Was it more humane than poison gas or cutting off peoples' heads? Decapitation is surely barbaric. But let us not forget that the French did that publicly until the eve of the Second World War; the Saudis still do it and the Iraqis actually decapitated Saddam Husain with a rope rather than a sword. If I had to choose my form of execution, I believe I would find decapitation preferable to be burned alive. Is carpet bombing which kills the bystanders or chemical defoliation which can induce cancer and birth defects less horrible than suicide bombing? Were Saddam Husain's or Qaddafi's prisons more cruel than Abu Ghuraib or Guantanamo? If any of those comparisons redound to our credit, they surely are very narrow calls".
"... But it’s clear the finger-pointing between the White House and Pentagon reflects no mere technicality. Both examples cited to me by well-placed sources close to the Defense Department offer new evidence of a criticism that has dogged this administration for most of its six and a half years: that Barack Obama’s White House is so insular and tightly controlled it often avoids “outside” consultation—including with its own cabinet secretaries and agencies. That’s especially true when the issue is one of this president’s least favorite things: opening up new hostilities in foreign lands. To his critics—and I spoke with several for this article inside Obama’s administration as well as recent veterans of it—it’s all a reflection of the slapdash way a president so vested in “ending wars” has embraced his new one.
Indeed, the Syrian-rebel incident recalled a more famous instance of White House surprise tactics a year earlier, when after a stroll on the White House lawn with chief of staff Denis McDonough, Obama embarrassed Kerry by abruptly deciding to ask for congressional approval for bombing the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad—only hours after Kerry had publicly declared that Assad was facing imminent action. Ironically, Congress quickly balked at approval, humiliating Obama," Politico
These two articles encapsulate the criticism circulating in Washington with regard to the ineptitude of Obama's government in the foreign policy field. Examples of the childish naivete of this administration are many and quite a few are recorded in these articles.
As I have written many times, this is a foreign policy team dominated by inexperience and/or an obsession with academic thinking derived from too much time spent in college and not enough real world time on the ground in the places they theorize about.
Martin Dempsey is the one shining exception in this government. God help us when he leaves.
"What we would like to see is for the FSA and the forces that we will
ultimately generate, train and equip to become the credible force that the
Assad government ultimately has to acknowledge and recognize. There is not
going to be a military solution here [in Syria]. We have to create so much credibility within the moderate Syrian opposition at a political level . . . that they earn their spot at the table when the time comes for the political solution. Now,
there could be FSA elements that ultimately clash with the regime, that may
well be the case, as they seek to defend themselves and those areas that they
dominate and as they seek to defend their families and their ways of life . . .
it could be an outcome. But the intent is not to create a field force to
liberate Damascus—that is not the intent. The intent is that in the political
outcome, they [the moderate Syrian opposition] must be a prominent—perhaps the preeminent voice—at the table to ultimately contribute to the political outcome that we seek." Allen
Sweet 'Issa! Has anyone run this "plan" by Lord Palmerston or Marshal Lyautey? They actually knew something about colonial strategery. So, we are going to make the phantom unicorn army of the FSA into something that will "earn its place at the table," and be "perhaps the preeminent voice" in the "political outcome that we seek." Marvelous! That should take a few decades but after that a mere ten or fifteen thousand US combat troops in real units (infantry, armor, aviation, etc.) will suffice to make it stick. Maybe we could create ethnic/sect pure Syrian colonial units who would police the "peace." What do the marines here say about this guy? Is he another polished staffie like Perfect Peter Pace? PL
“Based on past conflicts,” said one senior American military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss delicate intelligence assessments, the missiles “are game changers out there.”
The proliferation of antiaircraft weaponry has also heightened concerns about the vulnerability of Iraq’s airports, particularly Baghdad International Airport, the country’s most important transportation hub and a lifeline for military supplies and reinforcements to Iraq.
"In Kobani, the former third-biggest town in Syrian Kurdistan, in the far northeast, The Caliph also wins big. Another biblical exodus has reached 300,000 refugees - and counting, with over 180,000 headed to Turkey.
The Caliph counts on indirect help from The Sultan (or alternate Caliph), aka Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Tehran is - rightfully - furious, as it sees the "West" - and Turkey - betraying the Kurds all over again. It's no secret Sultan Erdogan is doing nothing because he wants to screw the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD); let them die instead of repelling The Caliph and then be strong enough to threaten Turkish domination of those huge, essentially Kurdish patches of Anatolia. Thus the only thing Sultan Erdogan does support is aimless bombing by the Pentagon cum coalition of the clueless-cowards.
Anybody who believes the US Central Command's spin that House of Saud and United Arab Emirates fighter jets conduct "bombing raids" on the outskirts of Kobani gets a one-way ticket to Oz. Imagine these clowns being able to deploy precision-guided bombs or trained laser spotters. To start with, the Pentagon has zero local intel - as in zero operatives able to paint lasers on targets. Thus the "coalition" can barely hit the odd tank (out of 25 around Kobani) or Humvee out of 2,000 crammed in a valley for almost two weeks now. " Pepe Escobar
Just take the time to read it. It's a great read! pl
Russia, France and Turkey have agreed to a one time exception to the Montreux Convention to allow positioning of the French Navy De Gaulle carrier battle group in the eastern Black sea for the purpose of air operations against IS in Iraq. France does not want to participate in Syrian operations. France does not want to lured into overflying Syria. Turkey will allow overflight of eastern Anatolia to and from Iraq. Turkey will also allow forward positioning of French naval SAR at Batman and emergency landings at Batman, Mus and Erzurum as necessary. Russia has offered the French battle group port privileges at Sebastopol for ship chandler and re-fueling operations. France has yet to respond to this offer.
Turkey continues to deny the US the use of its airbases for offensive operations in either Syria or Iraq. Turkey seems to believe that it has enough leverage over US to force US ground participation in decisive campaign against the Syrian government as well as in establishment of a "no fly zone" in Syria that would inevitably result in direct combat between US and Syrian air forces.
Iranian assisted Pesh Merga forces in eastern Iraq continue to receive US air support. This unacknowledged cooperation between Iran and the US is effective.
Syria's foreign minister stated once again on 1 November that Syria is pleased with US intervention against IS forces and positions. Syrian and US aircraft are carefully avoiding each other by mutual consent.
In Jordan, IS sympathisers attacked and killed two American tourists at Petra on the 20th of October. Three French tourists were kidnapped on 25 October from the vicinity of one of the Ummayad hunting lodges in the eastern desert near Azraq air base. The kidnappers were Saudi beduin who took the French back across the border into the northern Najd where they have posted Utube videos demanding multi-million Euro ransoms for each one. They state that if their demands are not met they will begin beheading the captives in the name of the Caliph Ibrahim. The Saudi government has made no effort to rescue these people.
German police have apprehended an Al-Qaida affiliate cell in Hamburg. The group was well advance in planning a bombing attack against the NATO headquarters in Brussels.
The US mid-term election resulted in Republican gains in the House of Representatives and control of the senate by the GOP 53-47. On 5 November, Senator McConnell, the presumptive next majority leader, demanded that President Obama take firm and decisive action against Islamic terrorism and IS in particular or face decisive action with regard to failure to "defend the United States." A large group of Republican senators voiced immediate agreement. Washington is overflowing with media hyped rumors that Obama is about to seek a new civilian national security team.
By 5 November a dozen new Ebola cases had appeared in the US causing a serious distraction from foreign affairs. Many more had appeared by then in Europe. Media personalities excoriated public health officials on both continents. In west Africa the first cases of US military personnel displaying signs of what might be Ebola had appeared by 5 November.
President Obama had not, by 5 November, authorised a US ground presence in Iraq or Syria other than as operations advisers, trainers and guard for the embassy in Baghdad. As a result the nearest US ground combat units were in Kuwait and Jordan.
By 5 November IS had taken 90% of the town, in spite of the large number of coalition air strikes, many of them flown, at Kurdish request, by US heavy bombers against targets inside Kobane. These had failed to halt IS' advance but killed many Kurdish defenders and destroyed much of the city. On the 2nd of November IS brought a hundred Kurdish prisoners to the Turkish border where they were executed for the TV cameras. This was staged for network news. In the fighting for Kobane throughout the latter half of October the IS used suicide truck bombers as part of their attack fire plans, rolling the trucks forward through their infantry lines to detonate them just before assaults.
More and more IS fighters have returned to the Aleppo area for the purpose of trying to stop the Syrian Army's finalization of the encirclement of the old city. US air activity has followed them and as a result, US aircraft are now (5 November) flying missions against ground targets presently engaged by the Syrian Army.
US aircraft are now operating from several KAR airfields. Erbil, Suleimaniya, etc. USArmy's first SFGA is present in increasing numbers in the KAR. They are returning to the region with many of the people who were instrumental in the "awakening." Contacts are being re-established and these SF soldiers are returning to the tribal areas behind IS lines. Most of 1 SFGA are engaged as adviser/trainers with the Pesh Merga.
Nearly all of Anbar Province was in IS hands by 5 November. Captured M198 155 mm. howitzers have been emplaced in camouflaged singleton positions within range of BIA. "Searching fire" against the airport began in late October. Two HE shells landed on the apron in front of the passenger terminal on the 25th. The dozen airlines that had been operating through BIA then "suspended' operations until safety could be assured. In the last week of October, IS artillery fire against the airport improved in accuracy. The reason for this was revealed when several airport employees were arrested by the secret police and charged with spotting for IS artillery and reporting by cell phone. These arrests were followed the next night by a ground suicide bomber attack on aviation fuel stores at the airport. It had been hoped that the provision of counter-battery radar to Iraqi Army artillery would enable them to suppress IS artillery, but, in the event, Iraqi Army artillery commanders have declined to advance to firing positions from which they could be effective. IS sympathisers in the area report Iraqi Army firing positions by cell phone and the resulting fire is more than than the Iraqi Army want to experience.
Large numbers of Shia have begun to leave the area of Baghdad west of the Tigris. More and more arms caches in that part of the city are being discovered by the police.
Based on this statement of the situation as of 5 November- 2014, forecast your views as to what is likely to occur between 5 Nomber, 2014 and 1 March 20.
Real world time for inputs for this turn will expire at 1600 GMT, 12 October 2014.
DO NOT FIGHT THE PROBLEM. The game is intended to be a pedagogic tool for sharpening our understaning of outstanding issues. IT IS NOT intended to be predictive of the future. pl
With this move we transition from yesterday's effort to describe the present real world situation to a more expansive sense of the nature of this game.
From this point forward in the game we will operate in the context of scenarios written by Turcopolier Control. These scenarios will be generated for each turn on the basis of the initial scenario (given below) as modifed by Turcopolier Control (TC) on the basis of your various situation inputs. Scenarios will reflect both real world factors and TC opinion as to the meaning of some of the data.
Remember - No Sasquatch marines (an interesting thought) or return of the Mahdi to judge us all.
SCENARIO 1 - game date 7 October 2014
Turkey continues to be the anvil in the hammer and anvil IS operation at Kobane while Turkish forces stand by observing the slaughter of President Erdogan's Kurdish enemies in the city. Turkish forces continue to block movement of Kurdish fighters into the city from the north as well as free evacuation of Kurdish farmers and their animals across the border into Turkey. Riots have begun to break out in SE Turkey cities like Diyarbakir but also in Istanbul and Ankara. 15 people have been killed thus far by Turkish security forces. Unrest among dissident elements of the Turkish population is spreading across the country
We are going to play a game on SST. This game will be a miniature version of the large scale politico-military games played by a number of corporations under contract to government entities in Europe and the United States. This game is based on the general principles of government gaming and does not derive from any company's proprietary interest. The purpose of this game will be educational for all of us participants rather than implied policy prescriptions as in many government contract games. These threads (each move) will not preclude other threads in parallel.
The subject of the game will be the probable course of military and geopolitical events in the war between IS and the anti-IS coalition constructed by the United States over the next six months. Although IS and the coalition are the principal players, all those parties whose interests are involved in the contest can be introduced as additional players by participants. Diplomatic, economic, political and military elements of the situation are to be included in the play.
The game will be played in "turns." W. Patrick Lang (turcopolier) will act as umpire, omniscient observer and control for the game as Turcopolier Control. The period of time available for completion of a task will be stated when each sub-part of a turn is posted.
The first turn will consist of two parts:
- A data call from players for statements of the real world situation as of this date - 7 October 2014. Estimates will be submitted to SST as comments on this post. 24 hours from time of posting for this sub-part will be allowed. After that time has passed Turcopolier Control will issue a consolidated situation statement based on the inputs and his judgement.
- Based on that new situation statement the players will be asked to forceast events for the next month for all the parties portrayed in the game.
In the second turn, Turcopolier/Control will issue a new scenario based on the results of Turn One:
- Based on that revised scenario participants will be asked to forecast additional play for the parties to the game for two additional months.
The Third Turn will be a continuation of this process. The game will continue until it is judged to no longer be fruitul. Participants are cautioned that fantasy inputs will not be tolerated or accepted, i.e, intervention by God (deus ex machina), beings from outer space or the like.
In any turn following the initial situation assesment, participants may request diplomatic talks with a player or a specific information input. Such information may or may not be available. In all such exchanges, Turcopolier Control will be the actual interlocutor.
These rules are subject to revision mid-game by Turcopolier Control. The game is proprietary to SST.
Turcopolier Control looks forward to your inputs.
Game play begins now. pl
"While President Obama continues – at least for now – to resist redeploying large numbers of U.S. soldiers to fight the Islamic State on the ground, the military components of the anti-Islamic State strategy he has laid out effectively recommit the United States to its post-9/11 template for never-ending war in the Middle East. In the end, such an approach can only compound the damage that has already been done to America’s severely weakened strategic position in the Middle East by its previous post-9/11 military misadventures." Leveretts
That is an interesting picture. I am not quite sure who in the ME has flamethrower tanks built on an American chassis.
The Leveretts are correct in estimating that the US is embarked on a suicidal voyage in the Middle East but I have some doubt as to whether or not bin Laden conducted the 9/11 attacks for the specific purpose of luring the US into self-destructive wars in Islamdom. In the old movie "Fort Apache" Lt. Col. Owen Thursday responds to an assertion concerning his Indian opponent's cleverness with "and at which staff college did Cochise study?" Thursday learned that day that Cochise did not need to attend a staff college but bin Laden would have benefited from the experience. If bin Laden really did have that in mind, he and his colleagues and the Taliban have paid a very high price for his cleverness.
Be that as it may be, the main point of the article is certainly correct. The US will wreck itself if it continues to fight these ruinously expensive wars against the jihadis. IMO the IS wants to build a salafist state across the Middl East and South Asia. To that end they must achieve control of the assets now possessed by Saudi Arabia.
Would IS welcome a chance to inflict as many casualties on the US as possible? Certainly they would but that would be a means to an end and not the end itself. pl
A measure sponsored by Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) would repeal the 2002 Iraq authorization and approve action against the Islamic State for one year only, with limitations on ground troops and on applicability to any other so-called “associated forces.”
“Ultimately, this is about a precedent for the future,” Kaine said in a speech Tuesday at the Center for American Progress. “If Congress allows this president to begin this campaign against ISIL . . . we will have created a horrible precedent that future presidents will no doubt use.”
In the House, a bill introduced by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) would repeal the Iraq AUMF. It would pass a new authorization narrowly allowing action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and sunset that measure, along with the 2001 authorization, after 18 months." Washpost
What the president and his friends, people like TOLFSC, McCain, Peter King and the like, are asserting is that the constitutional right and power of the Congress to declare the country to be at war is a nullity and void of meaning. They assert this to be true because the president is also commander in chief of the armed forces and they believe he can order the armed forces to do whatever he pleases.
It was understood by the framers of the constitution that the the commander in chief power did not extend to taking the country to war without the consent of Congress. In his Federalist Papers writing on the subject (#25 et al) Hamilton writes at some length to justify the existence of a standing army and navy. It is clear from his thinking that those forces that might be maintained would be for the purpose of frontier defense and protection of maritime commerce in time of peace and that the assent of Congress would be needed for wartime expansion of those forces and mobilization of the state militia. What is claimed now is an unlimited power for the president to make war as he wishes.
At the same time there is interest in writing a new AUMF while letting the old ones lapse. The text of a new AUMF should be looked at very carefully. There are many parochial agendas in Washington. Not the least of these is the CIA desire to regain its lost powers through control of the DNI office and the "kneecapping" of defense intelligence. Those goals could be served in a new AUMF. pl
"... after issuing plenty of tough talk earlier this week, the White House has continued to remain adamant that no major deployment of U.S. combat troops will be used against the radical Sunni militants on the ground.
Instead, the Administration hopes to recruit and bolster Sunni proxy forces in the Middle East, including opposition groups currently fighting inside Syria.
“Ultimately, to destroy [ISIS], we do need to have a force, an anvil against which they will be pushed, ideally Sunni forces,” McDonagh
"A U.S. official on Friday acknowledged that NATO ally Turkey had complicated efforts to build a moderate Syrian rebel force by coordinating with groups, including al Qaida’s Nusra Front, that were considered off limits by the Obama administration.
Adam L Silverman, PhD*
Barry, Brigadier General Ali, and Confused Ponderer have all asked if I have misread the CPA's rules, specifically in terms of how long they were intended to be in force. Overall, I would say I did and the error is my own. I have gone back and corrected, with strikethrough and an "Updated: Correction" label the original post. For a really good discussion of why the CPA orders, rules, and regulations can be confusing, please give this a look. There were problems with dating, posting, promulgating, and wording throughout the CPA regulation process.
Since I am a big fan of marking beliefs to market as the economists, specifically Professor Delong, like's to say I wanted to make sure I get this clarified, specifically as to why I was confused. Basically, I missed/misread the transition order while focusing on the wording of specific orders. My basic source of confusion is the way that actual individual CPA regulations are worded. For instance, in Section 4 of Order 7, titled Income Tax Rates for Future Years, states: "The highest individual and corporate income tax rates for 2004 and subsequent years shall not exceed 15 percent." While I recognize that their is a CPA order dealing with the Iraqi ability to adjust CPA rules after transfer of full sovereignty, there is no ambiguity in this regulation - a regulation written before the what could happen after we leave reg. Similarly the de-Baathification order, which is CPA Order 1, is equally ambiguous regarding how long this is in effect for. Specifically the wording of Section 1: 1.
* Adam L. Silverman most recently served as a civilian subject matter expert with the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue and US Army Europe. Prior to that he was the Cultural Advisor at the US Army War College from JUL 2010 through JUN 2014. He was deployed in Iraq as the Cultural Advisor for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division in 2008.
"A goal of marginal containment through direct support to regional players combined with periodic retaliatory strikes might be the maximum realistic scope possible against the IS Sunni state-let. Arm and train the Kurds positioning for independence to press IS on the east particularly around Kirkuk.Focus on small territorial gains and border consolidation. Form an alliance of convenience with Iran; also with Assad where mutually beneficial in the west. Assist the Shia Iraqis to train and fight with air support from the southeast, support Jordan heavily on the southwest of IS and make plain to Saudi, Kuwait and Turkey that they could be mangled by the IS monster they created. The chance to destroy IS is gone. Targeting economic sites - gasoline refineries, small oil fields, bootleg pipelines, electric grids, plus pre-emptive strikes on any military concentrations might work but better to buy off the Sunni tribes slowly with Saudi money. US public support for boots on the ground in the US is weak. US public support for covert and indirect methods is probable. NATO allied support is meaningless. Let them focus on their own eastern problems.... Does Obama have the support of the military and I'm not referring to the officers - but the enlisted? I don't see the trust. Does Congress have the will to fund more war? Even air wars are expensive. I doubt the political will exists. Past this Nov. election it will be budget gamesmanship all the way to the 2016 presidential." BTH on SST
Adam L. Silverman, PhD
For those who did not want to watch, were not able to watch, or want to be able to go back and refer to the President's remarks on ISIL, the transcript can be found below the jump:
"... after the initial crackdown, the group began setting up services and institutions - stating clearly that it intended to stay and use the area as a base in its quest to eradicate national boundaries and establish an Islamic "state".
"We are a state," one emir, or commander, in the province told Reuters. "Things are great here because we are ruling based on God's law."
Some Sunni Muslims who worked for Assad's government stayed on after they pledged allegiance to the group.
"The civilians who do not have any political affiliations have adjusted to the presence of Islamic State, because people got tired and exhausted, and also, to be honest, because they are doing institutional work in Raqqa," one Raqqa resident opposed to Islamic State told Reuters.
Since then, the group "has restored and restructured all the institutions that are related to services," including a consumer protection office and the civil judiciary, the resident said." Reuters
"Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the threat from IS 'requires us to work together and seek common solutions.' It (Iran) has reached out to Saudi Arabia - the leading Sunni power and Iran's regional rival - and has turned a blind eye to US actions in Iraq, which it has historically opposed.
In Iraq, the Iranians themselves have played a key role in countering IS. Iranian Revolutionary Guards have advised Iraqi security forces, Iranian pilots have carried out air strikes, Iranian-backed Shia militia have mobilised, and Iran says it has been sending weapons and advisers to Iraqi Kurdistan.
"The protests in Ukraine on the Maidan were not led by neo-Nazis or fascists. They were led by ordinary Ukrainians, men and women, young and old who were fed up with a corrupt regime and who wanted to share in the progress and prosperity that they see in the rest of Europe. And they did not engage in an armed seizure of power.
After an agreement was brokered for constitutional reform, the former president then abandoned his office, and parliament endorsed new elections, so that today Ukrainians have a new democratically elected president. And I look forward to welcoming President Poroshenko to the Oval Office this month. He was chosen by the people of Ukraine. It was not the government of Kiev that destabilized eastern Ukraine. It’s been the pro-Russian separatists who are encouraged by Russia, financed by Russia, trained by Russia, supplied by Russia and armed by Russia. And the Russian forces that have now moved into Ukraine are not on a humanitarian or peacekeeping mission. They are Russian combat forces with Russian weapons in Russian tanks.
The purple assed mandrill of peace (TPAMOP)
""Putin has issued his own peace plan for eastern Ukraine, calling on the Russian-backed insurgents there to "stop advancing" and urging Ukraine to withdraw its troops from the region.
Putin, speaking in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, said he came up with a 7-point peace plan on the plane trip there in which Kiev must withdraw its troops and stop its artillery strikes.
"The warring parties should immediately coordinate and do the following things together," Putin said in televised comments. "The first thing is for the armed forces and insurgents of the south-east of Ukraine to stop active advancing in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
"Second is for the Ukrainian military to withdraw their troops at a safe distance that will make artillery and other strikes on populated areas impossible," he added."" Telegraph
Here it is, folks, the "off ramp" we all have been looking for. TPAMOP is cautiously eyeing this new thing from his lair deep in the bush. Why has the chocolate mogul agreed to this? Simple - As I have written recently, the Ukie forces drove forward with great enthusiasm to their own doom and now are surrounded in pockets all over SE Ukraine. Yes, the great Prussian Gerd's musings over "culminating points" have proven fruitful yet again.
Will the United States let the world "off the hook" by accepting this outcome? Perhaps it will not. The lure of the Children's Crusader vision of a future devoid of schoolyard bullies may prove too strong to ignore. NATO exercizes are planned. Speeches have been made. Grand posturing has taken place. Obama wills it! pl
"Mr. President, representatives on this Council, this is our 24th session to try to rein in Russia’s aggressive acts in Ukraine. Every single one of those sessions has sent a straight-forward, unified message: Russia, stop this conflict. Russia is not listening.
We said it when Russia flagrantly violated international law in occupying Crimea. We said it after the shocking downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17, which took the lives of innocent men, women, children, and infants from 11 countries. And we say it today, as Russia’s soldiers, tanks, air defense, and artillery support and fight alongside separatists as they open a new front in a crisis manufactured in and fueled by Russia.
But Russia is not listening.
Instead of listening, instead of heeding the demands of the international community and the rules of the international order, at every step, Russia has come before this Council to say everything except the truth. It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied. So we have learned to measure Russia by its actions and not by its words.
In the last 48 hours, Russia’s actions have spoken volumes." Samantha Power
I now have a full length video of Sam's performance before the Security Council on the 28th, and here we also have the transcript from her debating club routine. Her style continues to remind of many I have known who never escaped the memory of always having been the smartest kid in class. In this particular exhibition she mugs for the cameras and the crowd, grins smilingly and condescendingly while the Russian ambassador responds and then reads her responce with the assurance of someone running for senior class president. These remarks are filled with the self-righteous content of someone whose feels her opponents must be crushed for lack of purity in their behavior and lack of compliance with the one-world idealogy that has always characterised her. She and the rest of the Obama crew are filled with the belief that the old world of national interests has passed away and that now "The Peaceable Kingdom" actually exists in a world order supervised by male and female super-nannies, most of whom happen to be American as she is (recently). The possession by Russia of far more than the megatonnage needed to reduce the US to cinders means nothing to her because she is certain she will prevail for her heart is pure.
And then we have Josh Earnest, another Child Crusader, manfully (or maybe metrosexually) trying to defend Obama's chilly devotion to forthright speech (always a difficut thing in a "politician").
IMO both of these young people have been appointed to positions in which a precocious publishing life has been misinterpreted as somethng more than a skill in self-promotion and apparent adoration of the mighty.
That would be amusing were it not true that their post-adolescent group-think now imperils the civilized world.
With its meteoric military rise, its leadership, management and financing, the newest terrorist scourge facing the world is ISIS. Operating in what is clearly a political vacuum in northeast Syria and western Iraq and benefitting from the studied indifference of most of the Muslim world, Isis is clearly on a roll.
The chaos in the Middle East and the broader Muslim world is largely the result of a combination of incredibly bad United States military/foreign policy decisions and the concomitant disintegration or destruction of all those elements, both good and bad, that were in place and maintaining order in the region before we invaded Iraq in 2003.
And in the midst of all of this chaos, Americans are coming slowly to the realization that ISIS presents us with real, long run, existential problems and that we probably have absolutely no idea how to deal with this situation at the moment.
Our problem in policy formulation on this issue is also of our own making. It comes as a result of the same horrendous decision to invade Iraq, for that invasion created two new realities for us.
First, it has made more than half of the U.S. population extremely wary about any further military involvement in the Islam. We are war-weary to the extent that virtually no policy proposal for dealing with ISIS has failed to mention the guarantee that there will be no U.S. boots on the ground.
Secondly, that Iraq invasion, coupled with our endless stay in Afghanistan, has virtually guarantees that the re-commitment of American troops in uniform will have a unifying anti-American effect on Muslim populations, even though the radical ISIS is viewed with horror by most of those local populations.
If you doubt that, look first at the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan after 2003 which was driven largely by the fact that when the locals were faced with a choice between foreigners (Americans) and locals, they decided to back their own. Or, look at the way Sunnis in Syria and Iraq, heavily influenced by hostile, unaccepting Shia governments in Baghdad and Tehran, have tolerated, even joined with ISIS in its fight for power. The fact is that, particularly in Islam, given any need to choose between foreigners and locals, it is a rare thing that the foreigners will be favored. All one has to do to understand that is read the history of the region.
So, what are our policy options? The attitudes of both American and Muslim citizens toward the American military establishment, basically rule out the effective reintroduction of U.S. troops into the area, even if we had the necessary resources to do it. Yet, if ISIS is to be neutralized, it will not be done without ground forces. It’s not just the ISIS soldiers, it is the larger question of denying them control of the territory over which they now preside in Iraq and Syria.
Then we have Kurdish and Iraqi troops. The problem there, accepting that they are ill-equipped, ill-trained and relatively ineffective, is that there are historical political reasons to worry about such confrontations. We have ages old Kurdish/Turk frictions. Additionally, any Iraqi army of the future is going to be Shia dominated in a struggle with Sunni ISIS. That scenario bears the strong possibility that a Shia-Sunni conflict ultimately could easily embroil the entire region.
Needing foot soldiers and ruling out all non-Muslims, we are left with the rest of the Muslim world. Note that none of them have so far rushed into the fray against ISIS, either because they are frightened to be seen to do so, because they prefer them to the alternative, or might even actually support them. Why else would the Iraqi Sunnis, who are among the more secular Muslims, support a bloodthirsty bunch of zealots who want to install the most conservatively radical sectarian government imaginable? Perhaps as a counterbalance to Iraqi Shia forces?
We need to keep trying to find Muslims who disagree enough with ISIS to fight against them. Barring such an unlikely find, we need to arm anyone - Kurdish, Iraqi or Shia - who wants to fight against them. We need to keep US military uniforms completely out of the fray, but we might be well-advised to get ready for a protracted, completely covert or clandestine struggle against ISIS which would involve our intelligence resources as well as our black, paramilitary operational capabilities.
Or we can pretend there is not a real threat and wait until they hit us, which, absent meaningful U.S. involvement, they most certainly will do at some point in the future.
Haviland Smith is a retired CIA Station Chief who served in East and West Europe and the Middle East, as Executive Assistant in the Director’s office and as Chief of the Counterterrorism Staff.
"Backing this stance, Lavrov said: "If... there are plans to combat Islamic State on the territory of Syria and other countries, it is indispensable that it is done in cooperation with legitimate authorities (there)."
Having long been denounced by Washington and others for protecting Assad, Lavrov made clear that Russia now feels vindicated.
"At one time we were accused of supporting Bashar al-Assad and preventing his overthrow.... Now no one is talking about that," he said.
The Americans and Europeans were now starting to acknowledge "the truth they have long recognized in private conversations: namely that for the region and for the interests of the West, the main threat is not the regime of Bashar al-Assad but the possible threat of seizure of power by terrorists in Syria and other states of the region."" Reuters
"Western alarm about ISIS, the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State and controls a swath of territory across the Syria-Iraq border, has spiked since it released a video showing an ISIS fighter beheading the American journalist James Foley last week.
Mr. Moallem condemned the killing of Mr. Foley and suggested that a failed raid into Syria by American Special Operations forces seeking to free him could have succeeded with Syrian government help.
“If there had been coordination beforehand, I tell you that the chance of failure would have been weak,” he said.
The United States has been conducting airstrikes on ISIS positions in Iraq — an effort that officials have suggested could extend into Syria. Last week, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, said that ISIS could not be defeated in Iraq without attacks on its bases in Syria.
Responding to that possibility, Mr. Moallem said any such strikes launched unilaterally would be considered an act of war." NY Times
"President Obama has authorized surveillance flights over Syria, a precursor to potential airstrikes there, but a mounting concern for the White House is how to target the Sunni extremists without helping President Bashar al-Assad" NY Times
"Lordy, Lordy," as the "Old Lady from South Carolina might say." (copyright pending) "It gives one the vaypuhs. What to do? What to do? That nasty, tricky Assad man, and his Rooshun friends... Why wasn't Assad gone three yeahs ago? All the expuhts at WINEP and ISW and in the retahred ambassaduh boneyahd said he would be gone. And he is still heah! Nobody at lunch at the Cosmos Club evah said that he might still be heah. I will ask John but I am shuah they nevah said anythin' about him still bein' heah to plague us."
This she might say, but Moallam made it clear in his statement yesterday that Syria is ready to welcome cooperation with the US against IS, but failing that Syria will treat such air operations as a breach of the peace. Syria knows it has no chance of resisting US air power but what they will undoubtedly do is go to the UN and international courts with a complaint that the US and friends are waging aggressive war against Syria. That will be an embarassment.
On a different subject, I heard Mike Barnicle of Boston Globe fame, pronounce on MJ today that the US must have known of the Egyptian and UAE air attacks at Tripoli. Mike knows this because he watches spy stories on the TeeVee and believes the USIC to be all knowing. I guess Sister Mary Margaret (or whatever her cover name was) never told him that only God is omniscient. BTW, what the hell do we think we are accomplishing in threatening Egypt and the UAE over their efforts to fight Islamists in Libya? What are we doing!! Ah, I see, the toys have escaped from the toy box and the grad school seminar that is the Children's Crusade (Obama Administration) are "acting out" as the mommies say. pl
"Q Thanks. I want to ask about the situation in the Middle East. And why do you think Israel should embrace a cease-fire in Gaza when one of its soldiers appears to have been abducted and when Hamas continues to use its network of tunnels to launch attacks? And also, have you seen Israel act at all on your call to do more to protect civilians?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think it's important to note that we have -- and I have -- unequivocally condemned Hamas and the Palestinian factions that were responsible for killing two Israeli soldiers and abducting a third almost minutes after a cease-fire had been announced. And the U.N. has condemned them as well.
And I want to make sure that they are listening: If they are serious about trying to resolve this situation, that soldier needs to be unconditionally released as soon as possible.
"On January 30, 2005, the United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shiite political parties, won elections for the Iraq National Assembly. Ibrahim al-Jaafari became prime minister; Bayan Jabr, a member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) was named interior minister. The victors, particularly SCIRI, saw MOI as a prize. The Defense Ministry was under U.S. military control and American soldiers were embedded with Iraqi Army units. MOI had only a small number of foreign advisors and security forces that were largely under Iraqi control. Minister Jabr used his position to place members of the Badr Brigade (SCIRI’s militia) in key positions in the ministry and to replace Sunnis in the commando units with Badr Brigade militiaman. After the February 22, 2006 terrorist bombing of the Shiite al-Askari Mosque in Samarra, police commando units were used to terrorize, torture and kill Sunnis." US Institute of Peace, 2008.
In today's Middle East Diary post, COL Lang highlights reports of infiltration of the Iraqi Security Forces. That this should surprise any current US military or civilian official that was involved with Iraq, or those who have retired since their involvement, is somewhere between amazing and mindblowing. The news media, as well as blogs and websites that linked to or aggregated news media reports in regard to events in Iraq** during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and even US government agencies like the US Institute of Peace (USIP) and think tanks like CSIS, clearly indicated that a significant portion of the Iraqi Army were former Badr Corps members. Most of this coverage was from 2009 and earlier. The Badr Corps, now the Badr Organization, was the militia/military wing of the al Hakim's Supreme Islamic Council for Iraq (ISCI or SCIRI). It was stood up, funded, trained, and overseen by Iran's Revolutionary Guards and many of its members are still receiving Iranian pensions.
If US and coalition leaders are now indicating that they did not know this or did not understand this, then something is very, very wrong. Leave aside the cultural operations info papers and responses to requests for information that I did for my Brigade Combat Team, which were shared with our provincial reconstruction team (PRT - made up of State Department and Interagency personnel), this material was being regularly reported in the news media. If US leadership, military, civilian, on the ground in Iraq, back in DC, were not tracking on this than we have a HUGE problem. Either senior leaders' staffs were not doing their jobs, there was an intelligence failure, or some combination. Given that this stuff was being reported in the news media, I find either of the latter to be highly unlikely and the former somewhat improbable as the material would have made it into Commander's Update Briefings.
There were some good reasons to bring the Badr guys into the Iraqi Security Forces. Namely the same ones for bringing parts of the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Awakenings/Sons of Iraq folks. Specifically to facilitate societal reconciliation and coalition building. That the Badr Corps and the Pesh were brought in and the Awakenings/Sons of Iraq largely locked out, shows exactly how far that reconciliation went, which was certainly not far enough. Instead the transition for the Awakenings/Sons of Iraq was short circuited in 2008 - same year the Iraqis rolled us on the provincial elections and the SOFA negotiations - by PM Maliki demanding and being granted control over the transition program for the Sons of Iraq.
* Adam L. Silverman is the Cultural 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 and/or the US Army.
** This link transcribes Nir Rosen's Rolling Stone article entitled "The Myth of the Surge". For some reason the link to it at Rolling Stone is dead, so I've linked to Professor DeLong's trancription of it on his blog.
Some of you may have heard about, and even read, Robert Kagan's essay in the New Republic: "Superpowers Don't Get to Retire: What Our Tired Country Still Owes the World" (May 26, 2014). It is a perfect example of potted history from the neo-con perspective; an amazing account of the genuis of U.S. foreign policy from 1945 until 2008. His plea: the U.S. must continue to save the world from itself. Leaving out the missteps of the period doesn't lend credibility to his case. But now those lacunae have been filled in.
Andrew Bacevich has very helpfully and pungently filled in the blanks at Commonweal: "The Duplicity of the Ideologues: U.S. Policy and Robert Kagan's Fictive Narrative."
Bacevich: "That Robert Kagan, a bona fide Washington insider, currently housed at the Brookings Institution, possesses very considerable talents is doubtless the case. A well-regarded historian, he is also a skilled polemicist and an ideologue. Here he combines all three callings to fashion a historical narrative that advances two claims. The first enshrines the entire period since 1945—until Obama sounded retreat anyway—as a kind of golden age when freedom, democracy, and liberal values flourished as never before. The second attributes this golden age almost entirely to enlightened American leadership. Policymakers in Washington, he writes, manifested a “sense of global responsibility that equated American interests with the interests of many others around the world.”
"Neither one of these claims stands up to even casual scrutiny."
" The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement called on the United States on Friday to admit that President Bashar al-Assad has won the war in Syria and to accept Syrian government terms for a political settlement to the crisis.
If the United States wants to be part of the solution to the war in Syria, it will first have to stop supporting the rebels and agree to engage in dialogue with Assad, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah said in a videotaped address to a funeral ceremony in Beirut.
“Any political solution has to start and end with Assad,” he said, speaking after Assad claimed a landslide win in the election this week." washpost
Policy and politics should be about one's interest. This interest can be personal or pertaining to a larger group, but if policy/politics are not based on interest, then they will be based on some fantastical effort to create a friendly and profitable world that does not exist and is not likely to exist.
President Obama came to office without significant knowledge of or experience in foreign policy. In the early days of his presidency he seems to have believed that his university bull sessions and the idealistic dreams of the neo-liberal R2Pers represented a viable foreign policy. He was quite gullible and susceptible to persuasion and flattery. The decision to increase the numbers of the US armed forces troop strength for Afghanistan was a terribly poor decision. It was clear at the time of the decision that Afghanistan as a place for nation building existed only in the minds of people like the Kagans and other neocons. Generals are usually good at executing other peoples' plans but less good at "the vision thing' as Bush #41 called it. They usually have rigorous minds but not creative minds. During the Iraq War the generals embraced a lot of nonsense about the evolution of forms of warfare and the fabled COIN doctrine supposedly "written" by the "genius" soldier/scholar Petraeus. Having been convinced by the neocons that the COIN manual contained the secret to career vitality and democratization of the world, the COINista generals proceeded to "sell" Obama on the wonderfulness of applying this operational concept in Afghanistan. They also "sold" him the idea that they need another 30,000 troops to make their scheme function properly. They originally asked for 40,000, but he gave them the smaller number. Perhaps this reflected some doubt as to whether COIN and a supporting troop "surge" had really succeeded in Iraq as well as the generals, AEI/WINEP and their cretin media allies had claimed. In fact, it has become clearer and clearer that the "surge" in Iraq was too small to dominate the country as had been hoped and that it was the revolt of the Sunni Arab tribes against AQ tyranny that temporarily saved the situation in Iraq.
Vladimir Putin (aka Vlad the Chess Player) has played a good game in Ukraine − so far. With the West playing on the other side he started off in an intrinsically weak position, which worsened considerably when the sudden neocon-engineered coup in Kiev swept his main piece off the board. However, he reacted and regrouped quickly, and prevented his opponents from achieving a surprise victory. By massing troops on Ukraine's border he made the other side pause, and this gave his supporters time to mobilise. In this confused situation he saw a valuable piece temporarily unguarded, and in a smooth and swift operation took over Crimea. The contest over Ukraine continues, but he has already won two significant prizes: Crimea and clarity − clarity on where Russia stands vis-a-vis the West
He is now manoeuvring to achieve his goal in Ukraine, and has again displayed his skill by adjusting his tactics as the situation has changed. Western propaganda has sought to depict his aim to be to seize Ukraine or, at least, annex the Russian-speaking East of the country. This is quite wrong. For the simple reason that Ukraine is a basket case economically and financially, and if he took over the country (or even a portion of it) Russia would be saddled with the burden of keeping it afloat, as well as having to deal with the many in the population who don't fancy being annexed, plus the likely backlash from the West.
His main goal has always been to stop the neocon-led War Party's move to bring Ukraine into the West's political camp and, ultimately, NATO. He wants Ukraine to remain a politically and militarily neutral buffer state between Russia and NATO, while letting the West pay for the privilege of establishing other ties with it (by supporting it financially).
But Dr Petro is wrong if he thinks the West is simply mistaken. Of course, there are intellectually challenged persons who do seriously misunderstand what is going on (John Kerry and Catherine Ashton, for example, and many media writers and columnists). Others fall into the same category because, though nominally bright, their ideological mindset causes them to seriously misjudge the situation (Susan Rice and Samantha Power, for instance). But the real reason behind the West's policies in Ukraine and Eastern Europe is that there is a strong faction among its policymakers that fully understands what is going on but has deliberately chosen this course of action. There is also a sane element in the West that seeks to impose a sensible policy, but is currently unable to prevail. The future of Ukraine, of relations between Russia and the West, and, indeed, of the world, depends on the struggle that is going on between these two groups, as well as the wider conflict over Ukraine between the West and Russia. To follow the course of these consequential contests it would help to identify who is in the various camps, and what they are trying to do.
The War Party
This is not too strong a title to give them since they believe the West won the Cold War and are angry that Russia has dared to challenge their consequent right to reorder Europe They would like to put Russia in its place (some of them would not even be too averse to starting a shooting war, if that became necessary). The leading elements of this faction are neocons and right-wingers. In the USA the most prominent are the neocons of the State Department (led by Victoria Nuland) and the CIA. Supporting them are the neocons in Congress, the 'think tanks' and the media, as well as the military industry. In Europe such elements are to be found in several governments, militaries and intelligence agencies.
"Obama –whose rise to the presidency was built partially around his opposition to the Iraq War – is definitely cognizant of Americans’ aversion to too much intervention abroad. As recently as Tuesday, he defended his foreign policy strategy -- with a nod to the conflict that galvanized support for him as a candidate in 2007 and 2008. “For some reason, many who were proponents of what I consider to be a disastrous decision to go into Iraq haven’t really learned the lesson of the last decade, and they keep on just playing the same note over and over again,” he said, adding that “my job as Commander-in-Chief is to look at what is it that is going to advance our security interests over the long term, to keep our military in reserve for where we absolutely need it.”" NBCnews
Well, well. perhaps he has actually learned something about the limits of power. If that is so he should get rid of those around him who have not learned that lesson. pl
Yesterday COL Lang reported on the brouhaha caused by Secretary Kerry's remarks that if a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute failed, then it would lead to one of two potential unitary state options for the Israelis. The first would be that Israel if it preserved its democratic system would lose its Jewish majority, ceasing to be either a Jewish State or a State for Jews because of potential/projected demographic changes vis a vis the Palestinians. The other possibility was to become a unitary state that relegates the Palestinians to second class status. Secretary Kerry asserted that should Israel go this latter route it would mean that Israel would become an apartheid state. His larger point, however, was that neither of these are in Israel's interests. This seems to have been meant as a supporting argument for why a two state solution is preferable in general and as a specific push for the ongoing US led efforts. As COL Lang anticipated this set off the usual freakout from all the expected players.
What's really interesing, however, is that this is not the first time a senior or strategic leader has made this type of remark. After the 1967 Six Day War David Ben Gurion remarked that if Israel did not rid itself of its territories and their Arab population quickly it risked becoming an apartheid state (h/t Corey Robin). Ehud Olmert issued a similar warning in 2007 and Ehud Barak reiterated this concern in 2010 (h/t for both Little Green Footballs).
All of this is part and parcel of the warped nature of America's discussion - both popular and strategic/policy - regarding the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Regardless of how it has happened, and that's a series of posts all their own, we have limited our ability to speak openly and honestly with each other about this issues, about what is really good for the US or in the US's interests, what is really good for Israel from a US perspective given that Israel is a statutory ally and client, and what is really good for the US's other allies, from the US's perspectives in the region. The narrow limits that we have placed on ourselves regarding these issues do not serve us and our interests well.
* Adam L. Silverman is the Cultural 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 and/or the US Army.
NATO was created as a DEFENSIVE collective security alliance for the purpose of deterring any Soviet attempt to take more territory in Europe than they had been able to gain control of in the years immediately following WW2. By the time NATO was created the Soviets had nuclear weapons and the emphasis in NATO was always on deterring the Soviets from an advance into Western Europe by creating the impression that any such advance would cause a conventional war in which after a massive and very destructive struggle NATO would probably be defeated and would likely resort to tactical nuclear weapons in an exchange that would escalate to general war and Armageddon. To make this strategy work it was necessary that the conventional forces committed to Allied Command Europe (ACE) were sufficiently potent to make it clear that conventional Soviet forces would not have an easy and quick victory in which a "done deal" would be accepted as not worth mutual annihilation. Does that sound familiar? During the Cold War the process of keeping the NATO forces strong enough to make the deterrence "work" was great fun for all involved, exercises, books, promotions in large forces, etc. There was also a hell of a lot of money to be made in building the equipment involved. When the Cold War ended NATO would logically have been dismantled, but, the Hegemonist Temptation gripped the elites in the West and the alliance was illogically driven eastward to the borders of Russia and Russian attempts to join this supposed mutual defense arrangement were rejected. This made it clear to the Russians that the alliance was an anti-Russian alliance.
Somehow the Europeans were persuaded that NATO should become an "out of theater" instrument of US power.
That seemed to be an acceptable situation when the USA and Russia were not on a collision course as we are now, but both the USA and Russia still possess their roughly symmetrical nuclear weapon armaments and MAD still apllies.
INGRAHAM: I think -- we have to look at the sense of upwards of $20 trillion in Iraq, right? We don't have a lot to show for it. We are stumbling still in Afghanistan.
American people -- I mean, we can talk about we should do this and we should do that -- and I understand that. I really do. But we have a country right now where people look around and say wait a second, why do we only seem to care about borders and sovereignty when they're other countries' border -- border and sovereignty? Why is it that we're obsessed about that but in our country, we have a middle class completely flat-lining, we have economic opportunity dwindling?
And I think it's a hard sell to the people spending money where we don't know where it's coming from in an economy that needs desperate help here.
So, these are the perils of military adventurism and previous decades. We're paying the price of that a little bit today.
I was a big supporter of the war in Iraq. And I understand there are a lot of complexities there. But the American people are looking and going, where is the bang for the buck? That's what they're running into, in the Democratic and Republican Parties.
WOLFOWITZ: You can't do this in the rearview mirror. The problem is --
INGRAHAM: You've got to learn from the past, Paul, right?
WOLFOWITZ: Yes, I know. But one of the things to learn from the past includes unfortunately the past of 1930s, is that if you don't deter this sort of moves early, when you can do it without military force, you end up in wars. And that's what we're trying to avoid here.
One of the obsessions of the neocon faith is the need to deter Nazi Germany. I agree that this would have been a good idea, but Russia in this decade is not Nazi Germany anymore than Iraq was in the time of Wolfowitz criminal folly. This man admitted that he lied about Iraq WMD as a matter of political convenience in propaganda aimed at the US citizenry. He was also dismissed from his post as president of the World Bank for malfeasance. pl
"... It all comes down to properly assessing the reliability of a source, that analysts are given the time necessary for that and that reality is being taken into account. I think the inherent problem of such situations as we saw in Jugoslavia, Iraq, with Syria policy and now in Ukraine, is that there is a strong political impetus that wants a particular policy that heavily favours friendly news. We have a 24h news cycle now, and that means that the political side tries to put out stories in support of political objectives as soon as they bcome available and still have news value to shape the narrative. This is propaganda pure and simple. It has nothing to do with reality. The idea may be summed up as move fast, pick the stories you want, be first, and no more questions please. In essence, policy moves faster than the understanding of the situation, and the decision makers are so cocksure of themselves that they don't bother operating in the fog. Brandon O'Neill has called these people ahistorical and I concur. They don't know history, and they don't care. What I marvel at is the degree of decentralised harmonisation that one can see at play in western and in partuicular in US media in such circumstances. Either they play along willingly and tacitly, or they are out of their depth and simply overwhelmed with events they have no time (or inclination or knowledge) to think through. Or is it just an elite consensus of an old boys and gals crowd, some sort of DC insisder intellectual incest? I can't otherwise explain the piss poor performance we see with the hair-dos on tv and in the severely skewed reporting one can read in the newspapers. The problem inherent in that is that not just the public but in particular the political sides is never fully or orperly informed, and thus prone fall prey to believing their own propaganda. And these people are necessarily mislading their publics as much as their enemies. Regime change ops like this require secrecy and, more importantly, it inevitably requires domestic propaganda (something putatively prohibited in the US). It's a small step from staying on message to believe all that crap yourself. It probably is one way to calm the inevitable dissonance arising from knowing better and selling something else in full knowledge it is wrong. Believing that wrong is right must be tempting then, even kore so among true believers who want to be good, want to do good. It is small comfort that, of all things, they would find their redemtrion in self delusion. And of course, all of it flies on the face of parliementary oversight (and in the US, the odds are the overseers are fully on board wih any of this) and government transparency. The intel people then must be the perpetual skunks at the picknick, whose views endanger the policy - dangerous people who must be reigned in and watched with suspicion. It is worse, however, when the Intel people want to be team players and drink the proverbial kool aid. A thankless job. Afterthought: In a sense, the intelligence apparatus was rid of a conflict of interest when it was to drop the subversive mission and when Reagan outsourced it to bodies like NED. The underlying propblem however wasn't not one of the intelligence services but one of the US government wanting policies regardles of facts on the ground. That problem persists regardles of reorganisation. It is as curent now as it was in 2003 or during Iran-Contra." Confused Ponderer
CP is a German friend who studies world affairs and in particular the United States. The link below might assist the discussion. pl
I think what underlies American enthusiasm for regime change is a profound and pronounced unwillinness to engage with the world as it is. At the core of this inability is the still popular notion of American exceptionalism. America's great power suggests to US actors an ability to shape the world according to America's ideas of how it should be. In this there is not that much of a practical difference between the Obamaite R2Pers and the Bushmen. They're essentially two kinds of the same utopian breed. Ron Suskind's famous White House aide put it that way in the Bush years: The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
The omnipotence complex on display there is still there. In my perception the Obamaites are not any less enthusiastic about regime change than were the Bushmen, they just think that with their civil society stuff and their skill at NGO powerd crowdrousing they're smarter at it than the oafish Bushmen. You and I may think that engaging Assad is a reasonable thing based on the realities in Syria, but that doesn't mean anything to them. They, like the Bushmen before them, try to reshape reality and in that new reality deposing Assad will result in a Free Syria, rid of the tyrrant Assad, and in which from the ashes a western style liberal democracy will emerge in which the Islamists will commit themselves to pluralism. And blossoms will blooom and everybody will live happily everafter. Of course, just as with Bush, the Likundiks among them pursue, on the side, their own delusions here, one of them being that weak arab neighbours make Israel stronger in relation (inevitably, and correctly), and by extension safer (and that's where they drift into the delusional, given that Assad's most potent opposition is Sunni Jihadis). The Bushmen and the R2Pers are utopians all the same and that is what makes them so prone to messy, dangerous and harmful policies that tend to needlessly get a lot of people killed. The destruction of Iraq under Bush or Libya under Obama come to mind. ... Mr. Polk put it well when he alluded to Humpty Dumpty's fate: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,: All the King's horses and all the King's men, Couldn't put Humpty together again. Regime change as a surrogate for a policy that adreses reality has always enjoyed bipatisan support in the US. I wonder the apparent thaw in US-Iranian relations is a sigh for change. I sure hope so. Except for that encouraging sign, there still has not been a reassessment of its efficacy. I think that European support for such policies, in places like Syria and, to my horror, in Ukraine - and that is a belated response to some of Babak's earlier questions from other threads - is the result of transatlantic consensus building among elites, rathern than an outflow of actual police (re)considerations in Europe.
CP is German but he/she/it has a fine understanding of America. pl
"In January 1946 the Allied Control Council set the foundation of the future German economy by putting a cap on German steel production, the maximum allowed was set at about 25% of the prewar production level. Steel plants thus made redundant were dismantled. Also as a consequence of the Potsdam conference, the occupation forces of all nations were obliged to ensure that German standards of living were made equal to the level of its European neighbors with which it had been at war with, France in particular. Germany was to be reduced to the standard of life it had known in 1932.[need quotation to verify]. The first "level of industry" plan, signed in 1946, stated that German heavy industry was to be lowered to 50% of its 1938 levels by the closing of 1,500 manufacturing plants The problems brought on by the execution of these types of policies were eventually apparent to most U.S. officials in Germany. Germany had long been the industrial giant of Europe, and its poverty held back the general European recovery. The continued scarcity in Germany also led to considerable expenses for the occupying powers, which were obligated to try and make up the most important shortfalls through the GARIOA program (Government and Relief in Occupied Areas). In view of the continued poverty and famine in Europe, and with the onset of the Cold War which made it important not to lose all of Germany to the communists, it was apparent by 1947 that a change of policy was required. The change was heralded by Restatement of Policy on Germany, a famous speech by James F. Byrnes, then United States Secretary of State, held in Stuttgart on September 6, 1946. Also known as the "Speech of hope" it set the tone of future US policy as it repudiated the Morgenthau Plan economic policies and with its message of change to a policy of economic reconstruction gave the Germans hope for the future. Herbert Hoover's situation reports from 1947, and "A Report on Germany" also served to help change occupation policy. The Western powers' worst fear by now was that the poverty and hunger would drive the Germans to Communism. General Lucius Clay stated "There is no choice between being a communist on 1,500 calories a day and a believer in democracy on a thousand." After lobbying by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Generals Clay and Marshall, the Truman administration realized that economic recovery in Europe could not go forward without the reconstruction of the German industrial base on which it had previously been dependent." Wiki
Having lived in occupied Germany as a small, but sentient, child I remember the atmosphere of hopelessness that hung over that country before the Morgenthau Plan as embodied in JCS 1067 was revoked in favor of a combined policy intended to re-build Europe as a modern region of the world that would not become dominated by communist parties and alliances with the USSR.
IMO we are facing a similarly motivated conception of what should happen to Iran. What I mean is that just as the Morgenthau Plan was motivated by Han Morgenthau's hatred, fear and desire for vengeance towards Germany, Bibi's hatred fear, and paranoia directed towards Iran is seeking to drive US and European policy towards a goal of making Iran into a country that makes oriental rugs just as he wanted Germany to be a country that made cuckoo clocks and strudel.
The level of pressure against Obama can be sensed in the waffling and ass k----g seen in every public statement made by Obama and Amtrak Joe on the subject. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
COL Lang asked for information pertaining to centrifuges, enrichment, and proliferation. At the following two links are two excellent articles - one article and one report - dealing with these issues.
Alexander Glaser's "Characteristics of the Gas Centrifuge for Uranium Enrichment and Their Relevance for Nuclear Weapon Proliferation (corrected)" from Science and Global Security, 2008
Krass et als "Uranium Enrichment and Nuclear Weapon Proliferation" from SIPRI, 1983.
* Adam L. Silverman is the Cultural 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 and/or the US Army.
** Imageof Krakoa the Island that Walks Like a Man, found at Doctor Nerdlove and taken from the story in Giant Sized X-Men #1
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
The AP has reported that the P5+1 group of countries has reached an initial agreement with Iran in regard to its nuclear energy program (h/t to Little Green Footballs). This is a preliminary/intial agreement for the next six months to create space for the negotiators to work out other issues. It leaves the overall sanctions regimes in place and allows for the relaxed sanctions to be reimposed if the Iranians violate the agreement. The NY Times has more of the specifics:
"According to the agreement, Iran would agree to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent. To make good on that pledge, Iran would dismantle links between networks of centrifuges.
All of Iran’s stockpile of uranium that has been enriched to 20 percent, a short hop to weapons-grade fuel, would be diluted or converted into oxide so that it could not be readily used for military purposes.
No new centrifuges, neither old models nor newer more efficient ones, could be installed. Centrifuges that have been installed but which are not currently operating could not be started up.
The agreement, however, would not require Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level of 3.5 percent or dismantle any of its existing centrifuges."
Once the Israeli Prime Minister makes a formal response, I'll post an update...
** Atom image found at Wisegeek.
COL Lang has been covering the developments in the P5+1 negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, including the growing rift between the US and Israel in regard to the process and its potential outcomes. One of Israel's top former security and intelligence professionals has also weighed in. Carmi Gillon, who was head of Shin Bet when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated**, recently the Chicago Sun-Times reported that he stated: “The American policy is a policy of wisdom.” and “In my eyes, American policy is not coming out of weakness. It comes out of power" (h/t Ben Armbruster at ThinkProgress).
Gillon is just the latest in a long line of former Israeli security and intelligence leaders to publicly come out and contradict or try to contextualize Prime Minister Netanyahu's positions regarding Iran, as well as other Israeli security issues. We have previously covered former Mossad Director and Israeli National Security Advisor Ephraim Halevy's opposition to Netanyahu's stated positions and actions, but both he and several other former senior Israeli security and defense officials have made more recent statements about Israel (read Netanyahu) not giving the US ultimatums (h/t Armbruster - same link as above).
To get an even better idea of what Gillon and five of his former colleagues think about the reality, let alone the need, for speaking to Israel's adversaries, you should check out the documentary the Gatekeepers that I wrote about last Spring. So you don't have to watch the whole thing right this minute, check out this promotional video starting at the 6:01 mark. I especially like the remarks of Avraham Shalom, the oldest of the six former Shin Bet directors interviewed for the film starting at the 6:07 mark.
** This is covered in the Gatekeepers documentary, including Gillon's attempts to get Rabin to take the potential threat to his life as a result of opposition to the peace process, as well as incendiary political and religious rhetoric related to the Israeli political campaigns that were taking place at the time.