The "Burke Chair" PPT on the future of the CENTCOM AOR. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
Like COL Lang, I'm also very pleased that Senator Hagel was nominated. Back in 2007 Esquire ran an in depth profile of Senator Hagel. It was written by Charles Pierce, who is now their primary writer/correspondent at their Daily Politics Blog. While he put up a short column on the Senator's nomination and why it is a good thing today, click over and read the much more in depth reporting he did back in 2007 if you're interested in more detailed information about Senator Hagel.**
Then go pop the popcorn, get your beverage of choice ready, and watch the show as the Senate, the news media, the blogosphere, and specific interests groups and think tanks like AIPAC, the Emergency Committe for Israel, AEI, Brookings, etc amuse us with their dysfunction, err, demonstrate why we have a mature and effectively functioning political system and news media!
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College. The views expressed here are his own and do NOT necessarily reflect those of the US Army War College and or the US Army.
** Esquire does some really good in depth political reporting. In the past couple of years they've done profiles or reporting on Congressman Paul, Roger Ailes, John Demjanjuk and often post the full transcripts of the interviews shortly after publishing the stories.
Dan Senor was the "mouthpiece" for the disastrous CPA government in Baghdad. This shifty eyed neocon front man was on "Chuck" Todd's morning MSNBC show today to do what he could to stop Senator Hagel's progress towards the Pentagon. Todd, himself, is a thinly disguised opponent of Hagel's nomination.
When he wasn't rolling his eyes or smirking over the very idea of Hagel, Senor was busy telling us all that "there is a 'consensus' on Israel in Washington" and that Hagel is outside it.
Yes, there is such a "consensus." It is a consensus that results from decades of intimidation, illegal finance contributions and suppression of the opinions of anyone who does not accept the primacy of Israel in US policy. Hagel is not intimidated. His appointment to be Secretary of Defense would threaten the "consensus."
That is what people like Senor are afraid of. pl
I listened to Wayne Lapierre's statement today. The transcript is linked below.
His basic point was that no amount of legislation will suffice to disarm Americans. We are not the UK. Nor are we Canada. The federal structure of the Republic and the rejection by many Americans of further federal gun control legislation will ensure that the 145 million gun owners in the US will not be disarmed.
Having said that he continued that "monsters walk among us." Whether these monsters are created by chemical poisoning, endemic violence in the media, the publicity given to people like the Newtown killer or whatever, he could not say, although he seemed sure that all those things contributed to the phenomenon.
Lapierre pointed to the fact that just about everything in the US that is of any value is protected by armed guards. He listed the president, the congress, banks, big buildings, airports and our homes as among thing so protected. He asked a rhetorical question. If you awake in the middle of the night to the sound of glass breaking and you place a 911 call, do you want the people who respond to be armed or unarmed?
The NRA proposes that every schools in the US be protected by armed police, either regular police or retired policemen, soldiers and other qualified, trained volunteers. Lapierre asked the question of whether it would not have been better for Lanza to be faced by an armed policeman rather than the noble teachers who gave their lives in unarmed defense of their children.
To support their concept NRA has hired Asa Hutchinson a former deputy secretary of homeland defense to head a two part effort to harden school security:
- A design/build project to find and install the latest and best passive building defenses for schools. NRA offers to pay for much of that program.
- NRA calls on the congress to vote the money for school police guards. NRA offers to train the guards gratis.
Neither Lapierre nor I expect a positive response from the Obama Administration nor the anti-gun fanatics, but NRA will win this fight at the state and school district levels in much of the country.
At the same time the president should consider what the scale of his defeat may well be in congress over the kind of law that he is clearly contemplating. pl
Today's Washington Post appears to be temporarily unaccessable on line. It contains "above the line" a feature story that continues the propaganda campaign in the media apparently designed to create public belief in the imminent collapse of the Syrian government and/or the imminent employment of Sarin or some other noxious substance by the Syrian government.
1 - The same two propagandists from WINEP and ISW are quoted as the main sources of this article as in so many other propaganda pieces on this theme and subject. These two fellows have no sources of information that they will admit to other than rebel "news" releases. The level of enthusiasm for this information campaign is so high in the idiot media that these two "experts'" opinions are now quoted as evidence.
2 - Both the president of the United States and the Secretary of State have taken to making speeches threatening Syria with unspecified "consequences" if chemical weapons are employed in the civil war. Syria states that it will not do so.
3- It seems that the United States will soon recognize a coalition of rebel groups as the government of Syria in spite of the presence in that coalition of AQ related groups who are self-declared enemies of the United States.
4- It is the policy of the United States to bring about complete governmental change in Syria. There is no UN sanction for such a policy.
It appears that the Obama Administration has taken upon itself the right to determine the outcome of the civil war in Syria. The ongoing and emerging disaster in Egypt is evidently not a deterrant to "king making" in Syria. pl
According to the author of the cited article American citizens of Mexican descent want a path to citizenship for those of their ethnic community who are presently residing illegally in the US. At the same time they find it acceptable that there be fairly onerous conditions placed on the "path" to citizenship.
"Latino voters are very comfortable with requirements regarding old or outstanding taxes, criminal background checks, continuous residence in the US and the learning of English. The community is more or less evenly divided on a provision for directly fining people, and a majority oppose touch-back provisions that requires undocumented residents of the US to return to nations of origin to complete the paperwork process." Beyondchron
I can see all that as a reasonable set of aspirations so long as it is combined with a continuing major effort to halt illegal immigration across our borders.
It is at that point that I part company with people like Congressman Gutierrez of Illinois who baldly insists that deportation of illegal residents of the US must stop. Living in the US without citizenship or a proper visa is a violation of US law. Was Gutierrez not sworn to uphold US law?
The president elect of Mexico has recently been in Washington talking about Mexico's hopes and requirements with regard to the US.
Americans should start talking about our demands and desires with regard to Mexico. The Mexican-American lobby operation in the US is seeking to create an ambiance in which only Mexico and Mexican-Americans in the US have "rights." In fact this relationship between the two countries must be one of reciprocity.
What should we want from Mexico in return for the "immigration reform" that it wants here?
- We should insist on the right to reside permanently anywere in Mexico that we choose after emigrating there legally. There should be a clear path to Mexican citizenship that mirrors provisions in US law. This path should not include a necessary renunciation of US citizenship. US law does not require that for naturalization.
- We should insist on the right to own real property in Mexico on the same basis as Mexican citizens. This should apply to personal as well as commercial property.
- We should insist that net profits after taxes of American owned businesses in Mexico should be fully repatriatable.
- We should demand a joint US/Mexican judicial tribunal that tries drug traffickers and condems the guilty to execution or imprisonmnt.
"Despite official U.S. assessments that al Qaeda leadership has been “decimated,” some experts are insisting that the U.S. maintain a heavy military footprint in Afghanistan — a strategy that will cost billions of dollars each year. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently addressed the success of U.S. efforts against al Qaeda, saying “al-Qaeda has been significantly weakened in Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Its most effective leaders are gone. Its command, and control have been degraded, and its safe haven is shrinking….we have decimated core al-Qaeda.” The U.S. must still “finish the job” in Afghanistan, Secretary Panetta added, calling for continued commitment on both military and diplomatic fronts. " Afghanistan Study Group
This is all nonsense. The Afghans are not going to agree to a SOFA that gives US forces legal immunity in their country and that will be the end of it. The Pentagon should start preparing for that event. pl
William Hague has said today Britain will back the Palestinian bid for United Nations observer status if they agree to peace talks with Israel. The UK will abstain from debating the issue at the UN General Assembly as there are no guarantees Palestine president Mahmoud Abbas will negotiate. Express.coDespite official U.S. assessments that al Qaeda leadership has been “decimated,” some experts are insisting that the U.S. maintain a heavy military footprint in Afghanistan — a strategy that will cost billions
So, the US and Israel will vote against non-member 0bserver status for the PA? Why does the US continue with the farce of pretending to be an "honest broker" in this dispute? The soon to be disunited Britain will abstain unless the Palestinians give up a right to press charges against Israel in the international courts? The Palestinians will win the vote in the General assembly and then prefer charges against such as Natanyahu, Barak and Avigdor Lieberman. This will expose these Israelis to extradition action by various member states. Then Israel can be a prison for them in much the same way that Gaza is for the Palestinians. pl
"Fresh clashes broke out in Cairo on Wednesday near Tahrir Square, as riot police fired tear gas and charged at Egyptian protesters angry about a move by President Mohamed Morsy to extend his powers." CNN International
Egypt is on fire again. There were 100,000 anti-Mursi demonstrators in Tahrir square yesterday. The US media is obviously avoiding the subject of the imposition of a tyranny in Egypt. It seems that the revelation of their own naivete two years ago is too much for them to cope with. And then there are the naifs and neocons in the governmenr who still cling to their hopes. pl
"About 14 percent of the 1.4 million troops in the active-duty military are women. About 280,000 women were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. About 150 women died in those two conflicts. Although there may be growing support in the military to opening some jobs in combat units to women, there remains stiff opposition from the infantry, where the physical demands — like walking long distances carrying heavy loads and handling bulky weapons — are most demanding. In a widely circulated article, a female Marine Corps captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan wrote in the Marine Corps Gazette this year that seven months in Afghanistan left her physically broken, with muscle atrophy in her leg and an ovarian condition that left her infertile. “I am confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females,” the article’s author, Capt. Katie Petronio, wrote. " NY Times
If I recall correctly there is a provision in law aganst womens' service in certain combat specialties in the infantry, armor and SF. If that is so, then congressional repeal of that provision would also be necessary, but since the Congress can be expected to do anything "catchy" that appears popular, well... I think that since these women see this as a civil rights jobs program issue they should be given the chance to "try it on." My only hope about this is that physical standards are not lowered to make this easier. War is an equal opportunity employer. It would be most unfortunate if some of these job seekers literally have to be carried. pl
For much of this year, Sgt. Maj. Raymond F. Chandler III, the Army’s top enlisted soldier, has traveled to bases around the world with a simple message: “We’ve allowed ourselves to get out of control.” His solution has been a raft of new regulations governing tattoos, the length of soldiers’ sideburns and the color of the backpacks they are allowed to carry while in uniform. The tighter standards are intended to improve discipline in a force that is recovering from an exhausting decade of war. But some of his fellow troops viewed the new regulations as one piece of a larger, more worrisome trend in the Army as it confronts an uncertain future. Instead of embracing change, some officers worry that the service is reverting to a more comfortable, rigid and predictable past.
“We are at a crossroads right now, and I don’t get the sense that we know what we are doing,” said Maj. Fernando Lujan, a Special Forces soldier who has served multiple combat tours. “I am worried about the Army.” (Wash Post)
So says Greg Jaffe in today's Washington Post. The Army may be at a crossroads, but I do not share the apparent trepidation over the Sergeant Major of the Army's raft of new regulations and tighter standards. Nor am I as worried about the Army as Major Lujan is.
The world is changing, belts will tighten and the Army will change. That is inevitable. SMA Chandler is doing what he can to manage this change. He wants a disciplined force capable of handling whatever comes its way. For more than a decade I've seen Army enlisted personnel and officers wearing every combination of uniform imaginable in the Military District of Washington. It bothered me. At times, it embarrassed me. I grew up with Army Summer and Army Winter. Our uniforms were… uniform. I'd say we're about due for some tighter regulations.
However this is not the focus of the story. What will the Army do with less resources and a changing defense strategy. We've been through this before. I began my career in the days of the hollow Army. We were undermanned and under equipped, supposedly suffering from a post Viet Nam syndrome or something. My twenty-five man rifle platoon was full of pot smokers and wise guys. They were a pain in the ass in garrison, but they were a fighting force to be proud of in the field. Their godfather was Command Sergeant Major Snead. The soldier in the picture. He would take each soldier arriving in the battalion on a tour of the hall of honor explaining the regimental history and pointing out each battle trophy. It was a chilling experience hearing him call out each battle streamer as he held it over his head before clipping it on the battalion colors during our organization day parades. To this day I can only refer to him as Command Sergeant Major Snead. This is the kind of intangible thing that glues the Army together during rough times.
We made do with what we had. When the battalion had no fuel for training, we walked to the training areas with the mortars and 90mm recoilless rifles. We trained heavily in strongpoint defense, withdrawal under pressure and breakout from encirclement. We also trained to meet every other ARTEP task. Knowing the basics, we would adapt to all else. We were prepared to deploy anywhere in the Pacific, SWA or even Europe. Ambiguity was a way of life. The Army emerged from this period as a strong disciplined fighting force. We will do so again this time.
Jaffe mentions the Army plan to "regionalize" combat units. Brigades and divisions will focus their training on specific deployment plans. They will conduct training missions and joint exercises with friendly forces in the region. This is nothing new. We did this in the hollow Army, too. However the added emphasis on cultural and language training is new. Jaffe probably learned this from Major Lujan. This is how Special Forces have always trained and always will train. I like this idea for combat units as long as the basic tasks of combat are not forgotten. Do not try to make the conventional Army into a Special Forces light. It won't work.
The Army will downsize. I hope they will start by replacing the vast majority of contractors with active duty personnel. We need mess halls and mess teams, not dining facilities run by DynCorp. Then dump half the generals. There will still be plenty. At some point the defense strategy must change. It should happen before the Army starts adapting to the new reality, but I'm not holding my breath. No matter what happens, the Army will emerge just fine and remain true to its motto… This we'll defend.
"“U.S. and foreign contractors poured money into a limited number of Afghan powerbrokers who set up companies that were corrupt and did not perform. . . . In many cases, they also paid off insurgents to let them operate,” Cordesman wrote.
He suggested that the government “tightly control the influx of outside money, limit its flow to honest and capable Afghans at every level of government, and provide the transparency to allow Afghans to see how honestly and effectively the money is used.”" Pincus
For years, I have told everyone in this wretched city (Washington) including Pincus that senior Americans (not sergeants) and their retired government buddies have been participating for years in the awarding of huge contracts to Afghans in or close to the government. This is not news. pl
"... supplemental budgets were sought for the two wars, putting the costs, now near $1.5 trillion, on a credit card. Meanwhile, Defense’s core budget has risen about 4 percent a year, adjusted for inflation, except for the past two years. As Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) points out, President Obama’s plan to reduce 100,000 Army troops and Marines over the next five years will still leave ground forces larger than those existing at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Then there are the funds wasted on failed efforts to modernize weapons systems. According to a 2011 CSBA study, “Over the past decade, at least a dozen major programs were terminated without any operational systems being fielded. The sunk cost of the terminated programs . . . for example, totals some $46 billion.” The Pentagon also is paying hundreds of millions to upgrade some systems, such as the F-22 stealth fighter plane. " Pincus
We can't afford this Defense Department. Change the foreign policy, kill the acquisition contracts, pension people off after shrinking the ground forces and come home. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
On Sunday, the Al-Monitor published a very in depth and timely interview between reporter Laura Rozen and former Mossad Director and Israeli National Security Advisor Ephraim Halevy.** The interview covers many important foreign policy issues, specifically dealing with Iran, how to approach one's adverseries, and the impact of Israel's concerns with Iran on the US presidential campaign and US foreign policy.
Some of the most important take aways were his remarks about how one should deal with one's adversaries:
" Therefore, I realized that dialogue with an enemy is essential. There is nothing to lose. Although the claim was, if you talk to them, you legitimize them But by not talking to them, you don't de-legitimate them. So this convinced me, that we all have been very superficial in dealing with our enemies. [...]
Not everything you try succeeds. But you have to be willing to try. If you fail 10 times, and succeed once, the success outweighs the failures.
What happened: In order to meet public opinion, both Israel and the US governments have tied our own hands. There is a law [...] which prohibits US officials from talking to Hamas [...] In the end, you create an inherent disadvantage for yourself."
He also has some really important thoughts in regards to leadership at the strategic level in regards to operations, such as the one to kill/capture bin Laden:
"I think nobody who has been involved in ordering the use of force can forget the angst, the days and nights of concern, as to what and how it can be done.
Romney has said, Anybody could have decided to finish bin Laden. Even [Jimmy] Carter. This again was a mistaken concept. President Obama didn’t just decide [one day to kill bin Laden]. The operation to end the life of bin Laden necessitated multiple points of decision by him. I know from operations I have been involved with on a smaller scale.
They are very intricate. You don’t just give the order and wait in your office for commanders to come three months later and say it’s done. No. This kind of operation, which is accident prone, hands on operation, one has to make one decision after the other […] It took courage and cool headedness and leadership. Anyone who says it was an easy thing to decide, doesn’t understand what he’s talking about. [Such comments] show a total lack of understanding of what this kind of operation means.
Once I was in charge of an operation and Netanyahu was Prime Minister. One day, because of the intricacy of what we were doing, I talked to him 10 times on the phone […] Ten times. It was a Friday, a day I will not forget.
This kind of operation, every minute, an issue comes up, that sometimes requires a decision on the political level.
The Libya story, the way it’s being used, is a sordid manipulation. […]"
And he discusses something near and dear to my heart, which is trying to understand the identities of those we have to engage with - allies, competitors, and especially adversaries:
"Over the years, both because of personal contact with some key figures on the other side […] I realized, in order to be effective with one’s enemies, you have to have two essential capabilities: To overcome by force if necessary — and/or to withstand their force if necessary. And do everything you can to get into their minds and try to understand how they see things, what their concerns are — their dreams, aspirations, hopes, feelings are. And where if at all there is room for common ground of one kind or another.
I think that what we have had over the years is an abundance of one side, and a dearth of the other. There has been a big emphasis, and rightly so, [on overcoming adversaries by force]. But we have paid little attention [to understanding one’s enemies.] And I have always had the feeling to look for ways and means of creating channels for dialogue. I was involved in channels of dialogue in one way or other, in major and minor roles, as of 1973-1974, when I served here in Washington, D.C., as Mossad station chief."
The whole interview is excellent. Ms. Rozen did a great job, so click on over and read the whole thing! It'll be far more informative on anything at the debate, in the Spin Room, or in the coverage over the next week...
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the US Army War College and/or the US Army.
Victoria Nuland is the politically appointed spokeswoman for the State Department. She is the daughter of Sherwin Nuland a bioethics professor. She is married to Robert Kagan, the neocon historian. Kagan was, of course, a mainstay of the Bush Administration's "crusade" to make the ME safe for.... It may seem strange to some this woman would have been appointed to be the State department's spokesperson in the Obama Administration. Such a doubt would betray the questioner's lack of understanding of the limits of personnel availablity in the United States.
In case there is any doubt, Hillary Clinton and therefore Victoria Nuland work for Barack Obama. His policy is the State Department's policy and therefor their policy He can fire either or both at any time. The US is not a parliamentary democracy like the "sprigs" of the old British Empire; Canada, the UK, etc. The president is not "one of the guys" in the cabinet. He is not "first among equals." He is THE BOSS in the Executive Branch.
The other night he chose to say that "Egypt is not an ally." The most challenged should be able to see that this is simple truth. See my earlier post. In any event, his word must be "law" for the State Department.
The following day Nuland chose to tell the media that Egypt IS effectively a US ally. Now, perhaps the NSC told the State Department to say that. If they did, then I have no problem with her statement.
There appears to be a pattern of friends of Israel arguing for a lenient attitude toward Egypt. Can that be because they want Egypt kept in the treaty with Israel.
Who told Nuland to correct the president? pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
The Innocence of Muslims affair (incident? incidents?) has become a fast moving story that seems to get more fantastical the more that gets reported. It is now pretty clear that Sam Bacile is not an Israeli, Israeli American, or even Jewish. Bacile is, apparently, a pseudonym for a Nakoula Basselly Nakoula - who appears to be an Egyptian emigre and was involved in this project with a number of naturalized American Copts and native born American Evangelicals. Members of the cast have clearly indicated that the film was supposed to be/originally about Coptic persecution and was overdubbed in both English and Arabic with the anti-Islamic dialogue that has led to some serious problems in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen including the death of four American foreign service personnel. The thirteen minute clip, posted to You Tube in July, began to gather interest over the past several days due to its being promoted by both Quran burning advocate Terry Jones and Egyptian-American Copt Morris Sadek. The fatal anti-American violence in Libya may have partially been the result of various media and extremist movement sources claiming that the video had been produced for the 9-11 remembrances and was being widely shown on American TV on that day.
While the story will continue to undergo change over the next several days as more facts come to light, the real issues are how does the US adjust its strategies and policies in the Middle East in response to these activities. It also demonstrates very clearly that no matter what America's official positions, messaging, and actions are they can all be overcome by events regardless of whether they are unofficial messaging being transmitted by Americans - official or otherwise or the activities of the actual actors on the ground in the Middle East.
*Adam L. Silverman, PhD is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.
"... change to the 2008 Democratic platform, which stated that Jerusalem “is and will remain” Israel’s capital. The line has been removed from the 2012 Democratic platform. In addition, the 2012 platform does not say that Palestinian refugees or their descendants will only be allowed to resettle inside a future Palestinian state, not property inside Israel. The 2008 platform made clear they would only be allowed to resettle inside a future Palestinian state – not Israel — effectively rejecting what has come to be known as the Palestinian “right of return.” Washpost
This is a major change, and a gauntlet flung down in the face of AIPAC. Eric Cantor is, of course, whining about this.
IMO, this will have no effect on the outcome of the presidential election and that is what Obama must think as well.
If that is so, then BHO's second term would a "racy course" for Israel and people like Cantor. pl
"In an interview describing his defense strategy, Panetta said he has helped craft an approach that hedges bets against a range of potential enemies. “It really does provide maximum flexibility,” he said. “The military is going to be smaller, but it is going to be more agile, more flexible and more deployable so that it moves fast and stays on the cutting edge of technology.” Panetta’s vision is notable for some of the big questions left unanswered. A highly touted promise to shift the military’s focus to Asia has produced little in the way of major new deployments. Nine months after it was unveiled, there is scant evidence of how it will be implemented." Washpost
Jaffe, the author of this article seems to believe the popular drivel about a "new era" in warfare. In this gospel, there are are "generations" of warfare and "evolution." Rubbish. Tevhnology changes. War does not. War is a social process reflecting the ambitions of leaders and peoples. There has always been guerrilla warfare. There has always been land mass warfare involving force on force combat between main forces. There has always been naval warfare. It was important before Mahan wrote his book and it continues to be. Is air power new? No. Airplanes project into the third demension capabilities that have always been extent in artillery, catapults, and other forms of missile throwing.
It is impossible to closely predict the exact nature of future warfare. Very few people have really clear crystal balls and those who do are too smart to attempt that kind of prediction. Pompous prognosticators like Eliot Cohen want to run the armed forces in place of the flag offciers. Their conceit is that they think that surely the professoriat know better than the "blockheads" in uniform. Based on that conceit the professors want to have the lead in re-designing the armed services, services they never served in and know only from books and libraries.
Panetta seeks a smaller, more flexible ground force (US Army and USMC). Does Panetta intend to have massively effective naval and forces? Thats a good idea. I applaud his "humility." pl
""There are many cracks in the ring closing tighter on Iran. We criticize this," he said, also singling out UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for traveling to Tehran this week.
Ya'alon's statements came a day after Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey said that he did not want to be "complicit" if Israel chose to strike Iran's nuclear program, positing that a premature attack would dissolve the international pressure on the Islamic Republic.
Speaking to journalists in London, Dempsey said an attack would "clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran's nuclear program," but added that the "international coalition" pressuring Iran "could be undone if it was attacked prematurely".
"I don't want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it," he added." JP
Martin Dempsey is either a brave man who understands his oath to the Republic or he is fronting for the BHO administration's real policy. Maybe it is both.
Natanyahu is coming to Washington to crack the whip over BHO before the election. According to this JP story he will demand a firm commitment as to a US attack on Iran, dates and all. IMO the implied threat will be to throw the weight of the AIPAC/Israel political forces behind Romney in the election if his will is not done.
IMO BHO should defy him and go on national televion to give the details of the threat and blackmail from the leader of a small country that is deeply in debt to us both financially and strategically. Part of the broadcast should be an offer to release to the media, all of the media, the tapes of the Natanyahu meeting. pl
"Newsweek quotes one Afghan officer who says he understands why "our men are shooting U.S. and NATO soldiers."
"I have been personally hurt by the way American forces behave toward my soldiers, our villagers, our religion and culture. Too many of them are racist, arrogant and simply don't respect us," he said.
U.S. soldiers are watching their backs against Afghan soldiers for fear of insider attacks. Once cordial relations and visits to each other's quarters have stopped. Some Afghan soldiers are Taliban guerrillas ordered to false-flag volunteer to kill U.S. advisers." de Borchgrave
"Too many of them are racist, arrogant and simply don't respect us," he said.
I believe it. In the time before 9/11, US military relations with the Muslim World were a matter of military attaches, training missions, Green Beret missions, etc., The personnel requirements of ths work were quite small and could be "covered' with specialists who liked workig with foreigners, were adaptable, felt deep respect for people of alien culture and wanted a life of high adventure.
Since 9/11 the main forces of the Army and USMC are directly exposed to such alien populations. The US arned forces are reflective of the collective thoughts, feelings and biases of the various US populations. They have been taught by thei whole lives to believe that the USA represents the future of mankind and that any foreigner with any sense wants to be an American and that local customs, religion, and folkways are inhrently backward and something that the "natives" will abandon when they see the American model available for imitation.
No number of "shake and bake" courses and classes given to soldiers on the subject of cultural sensitivity will change the collective mentality of men and women who think they have been sent to Afghanistan or wherever to "save" the natives from themselves.
We were better off when working with "the natives' was left to those who enjoyed the work. pl
I think that is a valid question:
- In Egypt we support consolidation of power by an obviously Muslim Brotherhood run government. To that end, HC and her deputy, Bill Burns, have traveled to Cairo to threaten and cajole the Egyptian military into accepting what the Egyptians know will become an Islamist state with all that promises for women, Christians, homosexuals, etc.
- In Afghanistan we are engaged in a very long, very costly war against an Islamist guerrilla army that has the support of many in that country. It is claimed that the Afghan soldiers and police who are killing our men are merely "disaffected." Yes, but their disaffection is largely the result of their anti-kaffir xenophobia. We are now in the process of abandoning the failed COIN strategy in favor of a CT based strategy that I advocated three years ago, but that was then. This is now. The time has probaby passed.
-In Iraq, we created a government that rejected any real strategic relationship with us and now conspires with Iran to halp Iran evade the sanctions regime. But, we still say we love them.
- In Tunisia, the Islamist element in the new government is seeking to erase French culture in the country. We look fondly upon them.
- In Yemen we directly assist the new Yemeni government in seeking the annhilation of the small Sunni Wahhabi insurgent movement. In so doing we align ourselves with the Sunni majority of the former PDRY against the Fiver Shia population of the North who are thought to be somehow related to Iran. They are not.
- Iran. Well, I won't even try to deal with that here. We await Israel's initiative.
- Saudi Arabia. We await their desires as well.
- Syria. We support a Sunni Wahhabi led, financed and armed insurgency against a government that has traditionally been hostile to Islamist groups.
What's the connecting thread here?
Don't embarrass yourself by saying oil and Israel.
"It is a tale told by an ifdiot." pl
"...as a candidate courting his party’s conservative base, Romney has issued foreign-policy pronouncements with a harder line. He says his administration would align closely with Israel, view Russia as the United States’ primary geostrategic foe and label China as a currency manipulator. The population of terrorist suspects at the Guantánamo Bay military prison might double, and “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding could return to the counterterrorism toolbox. A Romney administration purportedly would increase defense spending and bolster rather than shrink the size of the U.S. military. There would be no diplomacy with Iran, which would be enjoined to abandon its nuclear-weapons ambitions or else. U.S. military forces would remain in Afghanistan until the Taliban is defeated decisively." Kifield
While the focus is Mitt Romeny's foreign policy position, this article from the National Interest provides a very good overview of the varied and competing schools of American Foreign policy. Foresman
In the year 1850, John Parker Hale, free soil Democrat from New Hampshire who had been watching the painful aftermath of the failure of the 1848 revolutions, began a speech to express his sympathy for “the millions who are under the heel of power.” Taking the tone of today’s human rights crusaders, he said he viewed the crushing of the revolution in Hungary by Russia and Austria as a moral, not simply a political, question. He urged “…the American Senate, the highest legislative body of the world, the wisest, greatest and most magnanimous people” to “constitute themselves a high court” whose mission should be “to try the nations of the earth for ‘atrocious acts of despotism.’” Hale urged that we Americans as “a high court of indignation. “are to arraign at our high bar the nations of the earth, and they are to pass in trial before us.” America’s targets weren’t to be small fry or second rate powers, but villains like the Czar of the Russia,” the aim to try him “not only for what he did to Hungary,” but “for what he had done long ago in sending those unfortunate exiles to Siberian snows.” Hale then asked, “And after we arraign Russia, what would the next target be? England for the way they had treated the Irish and for the cruelties oppressions they did there?” (or) “go to Algiers to inquire what the French had done there?” Hale wanted to try the czar of Russia, In other words, Hale felt that the U.S. government should become a unilateral agency for the promotion of human rights.
"Other rumored contenders for Romney's NSA are technocratic officials who have served in top policy positions in GOP administrations before, including former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, former NSC Middle East staffer Elliott Abrams, or former State Department Policy Planning director Mitchell Reiss. Campaign aide Dan Senor, who has been closely advising Romney on all thing Middle East, could be in line for a deputy NSA slot, the kind of role Denis McDonoughplays in the current administration, some advisors say.
At the sub-cabinet level, even speculation is difficult because so much depends on who gets the cabinet level slots above. Senior advisor Rich Williamson seems like a natural choice for U.N. ambassador. But the roster of advisors jostling for other positions like deputy secretary of state, deputy defense secretary, under secretary of defense for policy, and others includes several Romney foreign-policy advisors, including former deputy NSA for Iraq and Afghanistan Meghan O'Sullivan, former under secretary of state Robert Joseph, former State Department counselor Eliot Cohen, former assistant secretary of state Stephen Rademaker, former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim, and many, many more." FP
The president (Mr. covert action) is apparently ahead in nation wide polling. That doesn't mean a lot but if things go that way we would be spared this horror.
With the exception of Eric Edelman (sorry Eric) I believe that this crew will merrily take the US back to war in one or more places. That ought to finish off our economy. So many countries, so few divisions... Oh. we can fix that! pl
"PRETORIA: Syria must not be allowed to descend into a sectarian war, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday, and she warned against "proxies or terrorist fighters" being sent in to join the conflict.
"We have to set very clear expectations about avoiding sectarian warfare," Clinton said, answering a question on Syria during a news conference in the South African capital Pretoria, her latest stop in a tour of Africa.
"Those who are attempting to exploit the situation by sending in proxies or terrorist fighters must realize that will not be tolerated, first and foremost by the Syrian people," she added.
The U.S. secretary of state made the comments as Syrian government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad encircled rebels in the country's biggest city of Aleppo..
She did not elaborate on her reference to "proxies or terrorist fighters" or name any particular country or group." The Daily Star
What the hell is she talking about? "That will not be tolerated?" By whom would it not be tolerated, the USA, acting without UN sanction? Is this a reflection of the emergence of a "covert action state" mentality empowered by COIN defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan and an easy win in Libya against an easy target?
Somehow, a picture seems to be emerging. It is not a good picture. pl
Read more: http://dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Aug-07/183747-clinton-warns-of-proxies-terrorists-coming-to-syria.ashx#ixzz22tdytPHR
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)
"President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for
rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government,
sources familiar with the matter said.
Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding," broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.
This and other developments signal a shift toward growing, albeit still circumscribed, support for Assad's armed opponents - a shift that intensified following last month's failure of the U.N. Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government." Yahoo News
I haven't seen this in any other stories thus far. Can it be that an effort is being made to keep this quiet? I have no personal knowledge of this US government matter and so can comment. The story says that the "finding" involved" dealt with non-lethal assistance, but also that the rebels have reeceived a couple of dozen MANPAD shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles. Provenance? Who knows? It will take more than these missiles to even the odds.
It is widely, wildly, jubilantly reported today that the rebels used a captured tank to attack an airport inside Aleppo. whe it gets to be half a dozen tanks i will start to pay attention.
Rebel over-confidence led them to allow videos of their actions aginst prisoners to be put on the internet. Americans and Euros are highly sensitive to a lack of moral purity in their proteges.
Two things: 1. The rebels will be more careful. 2. An effort wil be made to keep such material off Western media.
Most Americans believe in the idea of the inevitability of "progress" in human affairs. This belief is descended from the hubris of the "divines" among our puritan founders in New England and the eventual triumph in our history of their thinking. There were competing idea systems but they lost in the struggle for supremacy that came to blows in 1861. Since then the notion of a "city on a hill,"' a kind of earthly paradise divinely sanctioned for 'right thinkers" ha prevailed. This is ironic in light of the simple truth that so many of the "right thinkers" are now unbelievers with regard to the Providence needed to give coherence to their assumptions concerning humanity. Nevertheless, over the decades, indeed, now centuries, the "center of gravity" in US thinking with regard to self-image as "savior" of mankind has grown stronger and stronger until we now reach a state of perfection in our own minds that is matched only by the defects in our present situation.
The foreign policy establishment of the US is now dominated by three groupings
1- The neocon/jacobin group who have an unlimited faith in American destiny as the world power, a force for world revolution in pursuit of ancient jacobin goals of "liberte, egalite, fratenite" and also a clear allegiance to Israel as America;s "friend." The neocons believe that the US "won" in Iraqbecause there is revolution throughout the Arab Wordl. They seem to believe that the outcome of revolution is irrelevant.
2- There has emerged what for lack of a better term might be called the Tea Party hyper natonalist group. For these people everything is a case of "my country, may she always be in the right, but, my country right or wrong." (Stephen Decatur) Stephen Colbert does a marvelous job of ridiculing this group, but then, they don't watch his program any more than they read SST. Mitt Romney seeks their support through a pretentious display of mediocrity.
3- The last, and presently controlling, element in the Executive Branch is the liberal/internationalist/IR trained group. These people see themselves as shepherds for mankind. Theiy believe that the US should support and sponsor "democratic" revolution everywhere in the belief that "popular" revolution must lead to good things for the masses across the world. The possibility that "popular" revolution may disguise itself and secretly harbor regressive political ambitions that can lead to theocracies and sectarian oppression is not given much credence by this group. The people in this group were taught in university that professions of adherence to ancient idea systems are merely a "surface" illusion, beneath which lie essentially economic realities. They have some things in common with the neocons but are not as fonf of military intervention. They are often called "neo-wilsonian."
The third group rules. BHO, HC, Anne Marie Slaughter from Princeton and oh, so many others are firmly in this "camp." As a result the US believes the drivel fed them by the MB in Egypt, thinks that Turkey is run by "moderates," accepts the idea that fighters in Syria are liberal democrats (like them),even as those these figters cry out for defeat of the "infidel' government and proudly wear the beards that are a symbol of their faith. Support from the Saudi theocratic plutocracy for those fighters does not seem to have meaning for the the ruling group in the US. Ah, I forgot, they think Saudi Arabia is a "firend" to the US. maybe that is what BHO's bow was about.
It will be said in comments here that everything in American foreign policy is secretly about ne-colonialist economic looting. Ah, well....
I see no particular benefit in foreign policy that would emerge from a Republican victory in November. All three groups are sailing aboard a "ship of fools." pl
"He will also make a speech on Sunday on foreign policy and US-Israeli
relations. It is expected to focus on the Iranian nuclear issue and the common
interests of Israel and the US.
In comments echoing Netanyahu's position that a nuclear Iran is the biggest
threat to the Jewish people since the Holocaust, Romney will say: "We have seen
the horrors of history. We will not stand by. We will not watch them play out
Preventing the Iranian regime developing a nuclear weapons
capability "must be our highest national security priority," Romney will say
according to excerpts of the speech released in advance. "The "security of Israel
is in the vital national security interests of the United States." The Guardian
I am curious to know what authority a President Romney would have for taking the US to war against Iran if Israel chooses to act unilaterally. I know of no treaty or ratified agreement between Israel and the US that would authorize it. I know of no UN resolution that would legitimate such action. Does the recently signed law on US military supply and finance of the IDF require it? What?
Of course there is always the possibility that neither candidate would honor any promise made to Israel. pl
Earlier today COL Lang, hopefully enjoying his summer vacation, emailed to ask if I'd make sure the following interview, which was conducted by oilprice.com's Jen Alic was reposted in full. Oilprice's publisher, Mr. James Stafford, contacted COL Lang to offer him and the SST community a full reprint of this very interesting interview. You all will find it reprinted in its entirety below:
By Jen Alic | Tue, 19 June 2012 14:32
As global energy supplies come under increasing attack by non-state actors and private energy holdings become key targets of political maneuverings and criminal activities, Oilprice.com discusses the nature of the growing threat and how to reverse the risk with “smart power.”
To help us look at these issues we got together with Corporate intelligence specialists Jellyfish Operations and security expert Jennifer Giroux.
Michael Bagley is the president of Jellyfish, a global boutique intelligence firm that combines on-the-ground intelligence collection and analytics with an unprecedented country-to-country economic diplomacy program that helps governments, corporations, institutions and private individuals forge secure partnerships, discover new opportunities and mitigate operational risks.
Jennifer Giroux is a global security expert who specializes in emerging threats to energy infrastructure in conflict-affected regions.
In the Interview Michael & Jennifer talk about the following:
• Why the risk to global energy supplies is increasing
• Violent entrepreneurialism: Why piracy is on the rise
• The most immediate threats to global energy security
• Which countries are most likely to see attacks in the future
• Why Saudi Arabia could be the next country to have its energy infrastructure come under attack
• Why energy companies assets are becoming key targets.
• How energy companies can create opportunities in Conflict-Affected Regions
• Why companies need more than just intelligence to operate in hostile environments
Oilprice.com: Energy supplies have always been at risk, particularly due to geopolitical maneuverings, transit through countries in conflict and those suffering from ongoing political instability, as well as piracy on the high seas. You have both mentioned that the risk to global energy supplies is increasing. How do you support that claim?
"This account of the American and Israeli effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts. None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day." David Sanger at the NY Times
Either the "interviews" are a government program of controlled released of data to Sanger or the NY Times has set itself up for a massive confrontation with the US Government over official secrecy and the freedom of the press to pursue operational government data for the purpose of informing the public. The Holder Justice Department has sometimes been willing to act over such matters and its reaction will tell us if the "interviews" were authorized.
I have presumed that a wide range of measures short of violence have been adopted against Iran's nuclear program and that Israel was probably in league with the US in such measures, so this is only mildly titillating news for me.
Was this an actof war? You tell me. pl
"Zardari's refusal to reopen the supply routes left a diplomatic blot on a summit that NATO sought to cast as the beginning of the end of the conflict in Afghanistan. The Chicago gathering did produce a formal agreement by the alliance to hand over lead responsibility for security to Afghan forces by mid-2013, and pull out nearly all U.S. and other NATO troops by the end of 2014 even if the Taliban-led insurgency remains undiminished.
U.S. officials insist ample fuel and other supplies are being delivered via much longer and more expensive land routes in Russia and other nations north of Afghanistan. But the Pentagon says reopening the land route in Pakistan will be essential to hauling vast stores of military equipment and vehicles out of Afghanistan during the withdrawal." LA Times
I guess BHO does not really accept the idea that Afghanistan and Pakistan are sovereign entities that are not obliged to do his bidding.
WH spokesmen are now citing the great "success" in Iraq as "proof" of how well things are going to end in Afghanistan.
We have yielded effective operational control to the Afghans. A formal transfer of opcon can wait until after November.
The Pakistanis are still blockading our supplies and are demading large bribes before they will be willing to open the spigot.
The former Soviet states are getting rich by "solving" this problem temporarily.
General Allen, the WH's man is leaving for EUCOM command soon. I hope the skiing is still good at Garmisch.
Ambassador Crocker has announced hat he is returning to retirement this summer.
Looks like the little furry critters are leaving. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
A good chunk of my work is looking at identity and how it drives behavior. Originally it was how individuals learned behavior from their primary identity groups that promoted political violence, low intensity conflict, and terrorism. This meant working back and forth from the group level to the individual. Since going to work for the Army I have been more and more focusing on the group to societal level. Recently I read Rick Perlstein's piece at Rolling Stone dealing with what he is describing as a crisis of Zionism. Perlstein's article is a response to Peter Beinart's recent book entitled The Crisis of Zionism (for an interesting interview with Beinart about his book click on through to this one done by Scott Horton over at Harpers). The most interesting take away for me is Perlstein's recounting a discovery of Beinart's about a deliberate strategy by right-leaning Jewish American leaders to try to transform Jewish American identity away from liberalism (which has always been one fo the predominant strains within American Judaism, largely because of Judaism understanding of and call to social justice) and towards an embattled tribalism that centered on a victimization identity based around the Holocaust and then expanded out to other historical examples (both real and mythical - for instance the Masada Myth). This in turn created a refocusing of Jewish American identity centered around identification with the safety of the State of Israel. While Israel's importance to Jewish Americans had not been in dispute since its founding, what Perlstein is describing is the creation of the identity component of a strategic culture:
"Listening to many politicians and pundits in the US and Israel, you may be led to believe that there is a consensus around the ideas that Iran is irrational, that it poses an existential threat to Israel, that it's currently trying to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that a military strike can help buy time to prevent such an outcome. But what many former and current top Israeli and other Western security officials are saying is precisely the opposite. We've collected some quotes to show you what these officials really think.
1. Iran's leadership is rational.
2. Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel.
3. Iran has not made the decision to acquire a nuclear weapon.
4. Attacking Iran would make Iran more likely to acquire a nuclear weapon, not less so.
5. Attacking Iran would ignite a regional conflict.
6. Attacking Iran would not be in US or Israeli national interests.
7. There is time to pursue non-military options.
8. The West needs to talk to Iran.
See the rest at link below/
... and that is what they will get. Old Army Saying
BHO says that he and Michele, love their soldiers and will always be there for them and their families, always. Are we looking at a future attempt to change the constitution? Politicians promise soldiers the world in wartime, but later...
Today BHO spoke to a carefully staged military audience from a hangar at Bagram air base. It was a scene remarkably like "carriergate" in the time of the Emperor George II. A very unrepresentative group formed a background behind BHO. It was chock full of African-Americans, women, other ethnic minorities and other groups near and dear to the Democratic base. The force, especially the combat force in Afghanistan is overwhelmingly recruited from small town white America. What a cheap political trick!
After BHO finished, Christopher Matthews, Jim Moran and Jim Vanderhei of "Politico" commented on MSNBC. Matthews, a man so in love with BHO that he swoons at the thought of him went on and on about the "Commander in Chief" this and the "Commander in Chief that. Moran was equally adoring. Neither one of these bloviators ever served a day in the armed forces and neither did the "Commander in Chief." Romney and Cheny should be added of course to the list of "chickenhawks." At least BHO is not a draft evader. Vanderhei was so foolish as to suggest that this "carnie show" might not be well received by the US public. He was suitably chastised by the "faithful."
Earlier today, Colonel (Ret.) Jack Jacobs said that if the US stays in Afghanistan after 2014, our forces will inevitably continue to be involved in combat operations. We will have to provide staff planning, materiel, target intelligence, airlift etc. This will be true even if we say we are no longer in the direct combat role there and even if we adopt the CT strategy that we should have adopted a couple of years ago. The time for that has passed. The American people will not longer accept it.
The child-scholars of Washington thinktankery are still waxing optimistic on shows like the Newshour, but they should. they are going to "go down" with the shrinking overseas missions and budget of the armed forces. They are going to go down just like John Nagl did.
More tomorrow on BHO's speech tonight as a re-enactor of Marcus Aurelius. It will be broadcast from the legions' camps along "the Rhine" to the Senate and People of the USA. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
Yesterday COL Lang wrote about Israeli Defense Force's Chief of Staff Lt. General Gantz's remarks pertaining to Iran. I wanted to take a few lines and focus on some other portions of Lt. General Gantz's remarks, specifically those about Iranian strategic decision making. Lt. General Gantz, told his interviewers from Haaretz, that "If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a response. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don't think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people." While he still sounded a cautious note in regards to potential Iranian nuclear ambitions - "But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous", his caution was tempered by his evaluation of both the Iranian Supreme Religious Authority and leadership.
This is a very important point that we need to be cognizant of, just as the Haaretz reporter was, for two reasons. The first is that Lt. General Gantz's remarks echo those made by GEN Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he was visiting Israel. The second is that it starkly differentiates the professional views of Israel's senior military officer, as well as its past Intelligence Chief Meir Dagan, from that of Israel's leadership, as well as a number of elected American officials and pundits. If, as GEN Demspey, Lt. General Gantz, and Director Dagan assert, that the Iranian leadership, and therefore its decision making, is rational (and we should caveat this as within the Iranian context), then normal incentives such as economic sanctions and diplomatic initiatives, may bring about the changes in Iranian behavior that most would like to see.
The issue going forward is whether the professionals', both military and intelligence, assesments carry the policy arguments going forward or whether the war feverish among Israeli and American politicians and American pundits win the day. It also sets up some very interesting potential Israeli Civil-Military (Civ-Mil) relations follow ons as things continue to develop. Lt. General Gantz's remarks, unlike GEN Dempsey's which were in line with official US/Administration positions pertaining to Iran, place him at odds with the Israeli civilian leadership. That too is a developing situation that bears watching.
*Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.
Adam L. Silverman, PhD *
Rick Perlstein, one of the top historians of modern American Conservatism, has a new profile of Sheldon Adelson up at Rolling Stone's Politics section. If you want a much better understanding of what drives Adelson, what he wants, and what he expects to get from a Republican presidential victory later this year, click on over and give it a read - its not long, but is informative and entertaining.
And like (we've previously mentioned about) Dr. Krauthammer, Mr. Adelson seems to like screaming at rabbis he disagrees with: "Then there was the time, late in 1999, when Las Vegas's Temple Beth Shalom honored the city's new Jewish mayor with a dinner. It was originally to be held at Adelson's new Venetian, but the Democratic mayor refused to cross the picket line. So they held it at the Four Seasons instead. Adelson withdrew the $250,000 he had pledged for the temple's building fund and tossed it to another Jewish organization instead – but not before verbally dressing down Beth Shalom's rabbi with such virulence that the shaken rabbi recalled, "Nobody had ever talked to me like he talked to me."
I think somebody needs a nap...
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.
"Sen. Jim Webb, D- Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s military personnel panel, said Thursday he lives by this “moral contract” and believes Congress should weigh the matter heavily before “characterizing the commitment we have made as a throwaway matter.”
“I grew up in the Marine Corps tradition and no Marine is ever left behind. … I feel just as strongly about the commitment that we have made to lifetime medical care to the people who have served,” Webb said." Army Times
Well, good for Webb. The percentage of military service people who stay long enough to reture with medical benefits is quite small. We are talking here of people who retire for long service. This does not apply to people who served a few years and then left the military. As Webb says it was ALWAYS understood that those people would have medical benefits for life. That was one of the conditions of their service. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD
Update: Sorry for any confusion, but I posted this not COL Lang.
One of my counterparts, a cultural advisor at one of TRADOC's Stage II schools, is originally from Egypt. I recently asked him for his updated take on what was going on there and what he sent me was so good I asked for permission to share. He cleared it with his installation's Public Affairs Office and you'll find it below. It is quite thorough, so give the attachment a click and read away. Adam Silverman
Boshra El-Guindy, PhD; Culture and Foreign Language Advisor, US Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent those of the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and/or the US Army
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
COL Lang asked me to take a look at The Israel Project's (TIP) 2009 Global Language Manual that came up in the comments to his recent News of the Day post. I think there are two different issues with TIP's manual. The first is that we really do not know everyone they distributed this to. The Bio page for TIPs president indicates that she meets regularly with Israeli leaders and works regularly with other pro-Israeli organizations. As the Jerusalem Post seems to confirm and indicate that the TIPs manual was presented to Israeli leadership by its author, we can reasonably conclude that it has been accounted for in Israel's diplomatic and information operations.
The bigger question, which is harder to answer, is who exactly this strategic communication initiative is aimed at. It does not seem as if it will change many minds in Europe, the Middle East, or the non-Arab Muslim world. Rather it really seems aimed at American audiences, specifically politicians, the think tank crowd, and both Jewish and Christian Americans who view Israel positively, but might need to have their positions butressed and reinforced. Overall I really think it is intended for elected officials, their staffers, the think tankers, and the professional Jews and Christians we see on TV, hear on talk radio, and read in print - individuals who may not, and in the case of the professional Jewish and Christian Americans, clearly do not really represent the much more diverse views of these issues than we are repeatedly led to believe.
The second issue is one I have made here before: the professional political and campaign operatives that have achieved a high profile here in the US working for either Democrats or Republicans do NOT just work here. They also work on campaigns in Canada, Britain, Israel, and other countries. That's why, if you follow news from these places, we are seeing more and more that the rhetoric, strategies, and tactics uses, as well as the policies proposed, are all beginning to look more and more similar. Just this AM I read a piece that I found over at Ballon Juice (SST is on their blogs that they read, so I return the favor) that indicated that Canadian election officials are looking into a dirty tricks robo-calling initiative that benefited Canada's Conservative Party. This is something that is widely done here in the US and in almost every case that is an attempt to disrupt an election it winds up tied back to consultants to Republican candidates or to conservative causes (these types of calls, as part of a whispering campaign that also included flyers, killed Senator McCain's chances in SC in 2000 by insinuating that the daughter he had adopted from Bangladesh was really an out of wedlock daughter that was the result of an adulterous affair he had with an African-American woman.
In the case of this report, TIP has employed Frank Luntz, DPhil (his doctorate is from Oxford, I think in government, which is what they call political science). Dr. Luntz has been the go to messaging specialist for the Republican Party and a number of conservative causes and institutions for about 20 years now. One of his earliest pieces of work, related to the Contract with America, was developing the language that Republicans should and should not use, specifically the language that was to be employed to market it (and beat Democrats and Democratic initiatives and allied organizations up with). The problem is that Dr. Luntz's methods and results have come into question. He has been censured by both the American Association for Public Opinion Research and the National Council on Public Polls. Given the concerns raised over his methods, it is hard to know whether his messaging advice will work, because there is no way to know if the data it is based on is, if I may use the term, kosher.**
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.
** Dr. Luntz's work for Republicans and conservatives has, as the reporting at the links note, been contested, as utilizing flawed methodology, data, or both. That said his recommendations have been repeatedly and consistently followed and applied by Republicans for over twenty years very successfully. Some of this is the ability of Republicans and conservatives to select a message or messages and then do a tremendous job staying on them over and over again (abetted by a news media that seems less and less interested in news and more and more in access and perqs). Even if the theme or meme does not seem to be going anywhere, like Solyndra, they still hammer it over and over, and as a result have so moved the social, political, economic, and religious framing of ideas in the US (the so called Overton Window), that the center is now so far to the right in the US that Republican stalwarts of the 1970s and 1980s would be considered, at best, Republicans in Name Only (RINOs).
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
As a result of several comments regarding the recent events in Afghanistan, COL Lang asked me if I would be willing to do up a post about what the Army is doing in regard to culture in its professional military education (PME). While I have some idea of what the Marines and Air Force do, I am really not able to speak in depth about their programs and will stick to the Army's, which is what I know best.
The US Army formulated the Army Culture and Foreign Language Strategy (ACFLS) a little over three years ago in order to address the recognized shortfall of cultural capabilities within the general purpose force of the Army for its ongoing operations; not only for Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the Philippines and for potential future operations as well. The ACFLS designated the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) as the proponent and ordered it to establish an office to begin implementation - currently known as the Army Culture and Foreign Language Directorate. This included staffing of culture and foreign language advisors (CFLAs) and establishing a way forward for culture in Army PME.
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
In light of Harper's recent post about the death of truth in media, as well as the SST's community ongoing interest in Iran and the politics and policy pertaining to it, it is always good to see what members of the news media have to say about what is actually going on in terms of the reporting. There was precious little of this in 2002 and 2003 as US policy towards Iraq was being set, and what little there was got those who voiced it fired. Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi has done everyone a huge service by providing an insider's view of what is going on with the reporting regarding Iran:
"As a journalist, there’s a buzz you can detect once the normal restraints in your business have been loosened, a smell of fresh chum in the waters, urging us down the road to war. Many years removed from the Iraq disaster, that smell is back, this time with Iran.
You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms. CNN’s house blockhead, the Goldman-trained ex-finance professional Erin Burnett, came out with a doozie of a broadcast yesterday, a Rumsfeldian jeremiad against the Iranian threat would have fit beautifully in the Saddam’s-sending-drones-at-New-York halcyon days of late 2002."
Click on through and read the whole thing. Its worth the time. For a real treat google "matt taibbi tom friedman book review" - you will laugh till it hurts!
*Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.
In response to a suggestion I would say that the; Role and Missions of the armed forces, The Unified Command Plan and the National Security acts of 1947 and 1948 have been badly in need of revision for a long time. I have said that repeatedly. Nobody cares, least of all those whose actions are driven by personal interest.. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
This recent article in the Air Force Times quotes Ambassador Sheehan, the new Assisitant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, and the former head of NYPD's Counter-terrorism Division, as saying: " Al-Qaida wasn’t as good as we thought they were on 9/11. Quite frankly, we, the American people, were asleep at the switch, the U.S. government, prior to 9/11. So an organization that wasn’t that good looked really great on 9/11,” Sheehan told a room full of special operators in Washington who were attending an annual Special Operations, Low Intensity Conflict Planning Conference. “Everyone looked to the skies every day after 9/11 and said, ‘When is the next attack?’ And it didn’t come, partly because al-Qaida wasn’t that capable. They didn’t have other units here in the U.S. … Really, they didn’t have the capability to conduct a second attack.”
It is good that a high ranking American official has finally come out and made this statement publicly. It would have been better if it had been done sooner and had not had to wait for Ambassador Sheehan to return to Federal service.
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.
This has been Sheehan's position for a long time. He and and I have discussed it quite a lot. pl
IMO we are being lured towards secret support of the Syrian opposition to the Assad government. There is an assumption that anything and anyone would be preferable for us to the present government. This is troubling.
During the Libyan insurgency the canard was about that those rebels were dominated by Islamists. That never seemed likely to me but perhaps I have known too many Libyans.
In the case of Syria, it seems clear to me that a great deal of the opposition is Sunni mosque centered around salafist leaders. How much " a great deal" actually is remains a question. The government should have the CIA talk to its media friends so that we can be better informed. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
If you've got a spare minute head on over and check out this past weekend's This American Life. Its about Alabama's, strictest in the US, recent anti-illegal immigration law and the current GOP primary debate issue of self deportation. Now before anyone freaks and screams "states rights!!!" give it either a listen or a read (hyperlink goes to the transcript). The law was not written in AL or by one of her legislators, rather it was written by a Kansan, who was also one of the drafters of AZ's recent law (which, amazingly, is NOT the most draconian one out there), as well as similar pieces of legislation in a number of other states - and there appears to be an ALEC connection. Do we need to have secure borders and a rational (economically, politically, and psychologically) immigration policy? Without a doubt. Is this the way to do it? Most likely not. I think one of the biggest examples of this in the report is when the AL Republican legislative whip that helped get the law passed (a self described devout Christian) has the following exchange with the interviewer:
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
A couple of the commenters in the Superbowl open thread have remarked on the Chrysler ad featuring Clint Eastwood yesterday. I watched it, as well as most of the other ads and the occasional bits of football that they broadcast in between them, with an Information Operations (IO) bubba. Always interesting to see what the messaging professionals think of the professional messaging. Anyhow it was pretty clear that this was one of the two or three best ads of the night (and I do agree that the Fiat ad was great too). What immediately struck me was just 1) powerfully done ad, 2) is that Clint Eastwood? Really? Given the subject matter of the ad and what I think I know of his politics?, 3) I bet a whole lot of people are going to look at this as a political ad and specifically for President Obama's reelection.
What struck me the most was the politics behind the ad and what it would mean that Clint Eastwood, who is often identified as a Republican, but describes himself as a libertarian had agreed to do it. As one can imagine, depending on one's political views, not to mention how one feels about the Obama Administration stepping in and helping to manage Chrysler (and GM's) restructuring, seems to determine one's response to the ad. Apparently Chrysler and the ad's makers actually tried to play down the politics by using footage of union supporters (with permission), but carefully avoiding footage of signs that would show it was explicitly union. Karl Rove has weighed in against Mr. Eastwood's participation, so he may be voted off of the Republican Island or made an unperson or something....
So what say you all? Good, bad, or otherwise on this ad?
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army
The image above, from the National Democratic Institute (the link is to their Iran Bulletin), provides an excellent visualition of Iran's governmental power structure. Mr. Vincent (formerly doing business as Graywolf) asked a great question in the comments to the Newshour post about Iran's leadership. His insinuation, of course, was that they are "stupid, venal, and crazy", but his equally good point is that frustration with Israeli intransigance and ongoing attempts to manipulate American foreign policy to its benefit has deranged some of our commenters away from viewing the actual behavior and intent of the Iranian government and leadership. This is a great couple of points that there is more to be concerned here than just the Israelis and their behavior.
In the case of Iran we do not have the greatest understanding of their leadership, specifically of their strategic decision making. The simple reality, as demonstrated in the graphic above, is that Iran's unique hybrid form of government means that much, if not most of the decision making is going on behind the scenes. That makes it opaque to observation and understanding. Ahmedinijad is the bright shiny object out in front. And he has seemed to be in an on again/off again power struggle with the Ayatollah Khameini, the Supreme Religious Authority, the council of advisors, experts, and the Guardian Council. But what really remains difficult to discern is just how much power he has with his ties to the ageing revolutionary movement and how much power they have in relation to the Supreme Religious Authority and the other ruling clerics.
So Mr. Vincent's concerns are well merited: we need to pay attention to Iran's leadership, its strategic culture, and its strategic decision making process just as much as we need to the Israelis. Especially if we do not want to become the third party to this dispute.
*Adam L. Silverman, PhD is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.
As an indication of how pervasive Israeli agitprop and perception management has become, I offer the following:
On the Newshour tonight there was a talking heads discussion between David Ignatius and David Makovsky the AIPAC/WiINEP person. The moderator was Ray Suarez.
Throughout this "contest" the assumption underlying the discussion was that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. This was clear in what both Makovsky and Ignatius said.
To make the matter worse, Suarez said at one point:
"RAY SUAREZ: Before we close, I would like to hear from both of you about the cost-benefit analysis being made on both sides.
If you only slow down and don't stop the Iranian program, but unleash military strikes, could the possibilities for Iranian retaliation, for destabilization in the region be so severe, that the blowback is worse than what you accomplish with the attack?"
Ray, it is the position of the US governemnt that Iran DOES NOT have a nuclear weapons program and has not had one since 2003 That is our offical position, expressed in numerous documents of the IC as late as this week in Clapper's statement to the senate.
The administration has not repudiated any of these Intelligence Community joint opinions. The acceptance of those judgement is why we are not presently bombing Iran.
"Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Israeli leaders Jan. 20 that the United States would not participate in a war against Iran begun by Israel without prior agreement from Washington, according to accounts from well-placed senior military officers.
Dempsey's warning, conveyed to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, represents the strongest move yet by President Barack Obama to deter an Israeli attack and ensure that the United States is not caught up in a regional conflagration with Iran.
But the Israeli government remains defiant about maintaining its freedom of action to make war on Iran, and it is counting on the influence of right-wing extremist views in U.S. politics to bring pressure to bear on Obama to fall into line with a possible Israeli attack during the election campaign this fall." Gareth Porter
I have heard the same thing from other, different sources. I may become a "fan" of this man, Dempsey. I notice that he usually wears just two rows of ribbons. This is a good sign. It is unlike the current "peacock" display of meaningless ribbons. Notice how many rows Marshall wore. pl
"Advocates of the president’s strategy say that we do not need that human capital or expertise in ground operations because we will never again fight wars that put large numbers of our soldiers at risk. Technology, they say, will make future wars precise, rapid and decisive. We have heard this argument many times since the Cold War ended, from George W. Bush as enthusiastically as Bill Clinton. Yet every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan has ordered tens of thousands of troops into ground combat. Obama himself sent 70,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops have been deployed abroad to wars or peacekeeping operations for 38 of the past 70 years — and nearly continuously since 1989. The argument that next time will be different is unpersuasive." Fred Kagan
Fred Kagan wants a foreign policy of aggressive overseas deployments and COIN wars like the ones he favored in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In his oped piece cited here he uses absurd terms like "never again." No one makes that claim. The ral question has to do with "when" and "how big." As for Obama's decision to send a lot more troops to Afghanistan, Kagan was a direct influence in that mistaken decision.
National strategy dictates foreign policy which dictates military strategy which dictates programming and budgeting. Obama's newly announced military strategy is reflective of a new foreign policy, one that implictly rejects massive pacification projects (COIN wars) involving the large ground forces needed to hold the subject population down while COIN works its magic over some decades.
In the new strategy COIN is not dicarded. It is merely reduced to a technique useful in small conflicts at reduced cost.
The other large purpose for big ground forces would be the prospect of conventional ground wars against big, capable armies. Where are the enemies of this type that are likely to be adversaries for the United States. Where? Europe? Asia? Africa? This seems implausible.
Kagan says he wants us to have large ground forces that will serve as "incubators" for leadership for the big ground wars that we are unlikely to have. His paradigm implies a continuing commitment to large scale combat situations. His own logic rejects the idea that peacetime experience "grows" the kind of leadership that he wants to see.
Small ground acions are likely to continue around the peripheries of the oceans or in SOF situations but big ground wars are, for the US, a matter of choice, not necessity.
Kagan and his neocon "brothers" and their familiars are unhappy with the new strategy because it represent a foreign policy that rejects the neocon vision. pl
"The latest $5 million to the pro-Newt super PAC was donated by Miriam Adelson, who is reportedly a dual citizen of the United States and Israel. And here, as reported in the New Yorker, is a small but telling example of how Miriam previously interacted with the recipients of the Adelsons’ largesse: The Adelsons seem not to take their power for granted. Recently, Miriam told an associate, “I had a CD on Islamic jihad. I brought it to the [Bush] White House and told the chief of staff, ‘I would like the President to see this.’ It really is amazing that we have this influence.”" Salon
Adelson says that those who are not rich are not worth listening to. Adelson is reported to have said that he regrets that he served in the US Army rather than the IDF. He hates unions because they cut into his"meager" profits in the casino business. He seems to be against prevention of illegal immigration. He is one of Bibi's principal backers. He wants the US Embassy moved to Jerusalem to signal total unity with Israel. IMO he wants to use his money to arrange for a US Administration that will do whatever Israeli nationalists like him desire.
Gingrich used to be pro-Palestinian. That was before he found Adelson. Well, if he is a whore, at least he is an expensive whore.
And then there is Romney. As Newt says, what kind of man thinks that he can invest his money in the Cayman Islands and other convenient places and then convince us all that he is for us "dumb people," I'm using Adelson's definition.
I hope Gingrich gets the nomination. That would be "fun." pl