« A Failure of Leadership | Main | Bush Backsliding on Democracy? Richard Sale »

28 May 2006


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Thanks for coming out and saying it, whether with trumpet fanfare or with The Fat Lady ululating at full volume. Who would have ever imagined that the US would be the instrument to effect a rapprochement between Iraq and Iran? On these terms, at least. "Be careful what you pray for ..."
(Also, what's with the journalistic fetish of citing casualty figures "compared with this period last year" as though it's a corporation's quarterly report? As a reliable measure of progress they might want to keep Enron in mind.)

Babak Makkinejad


I believe that the quantitative approach that you are alluding to started with McNamara who used to work for Ford Motor Company.


actually, modern quantitative and statistical assessment of combat results dates to the Allied "Strategic Bombing Survey" in WWII - & McNamara was one of the team's "whiz kids" - that's how he got the Ford job.

from what has passed for strategy ever since, I'm ready for qualitative approaches by wise, rational people.

"...after this is over."
I'm not sure the "it's over" siren will be as clear as the start date - or VN's finale.

Patrick Henry

Col...Thank you for Indulging Me..

you are making a GOOD Analysis of the Situation..

This was the "Anticipated Outcome" by many Smart People who Knew it Before Hand...and Tryed to WARN.. these Neo-Cons Planners..

For Unclear Reason..they chose to ignore The EXPERTS..and BAN Thier Input..

Perhaps this Outcome was the Desired Result...End Game...for Many of them..

Since it Prolonged the War..and Created someones desired CHAOS..

I agree with all your evaluations Col. Lang..

and Concerns...Because the Burden Now is to somehow Stabalize the situation..

No Matter HOW it Developed..

Thats for People Smarter and More Qualified than I..

If not stabalized..through Good Strategy..

It Will Indeed..Just become the "GREATER MIDDLE~ EAST.."..

Which I feel..was the Great Plan..in the First Place..


and a CLASH of the Titans.. Once Again..

The Classic Chess Game..and Opening Moves..The Persians Love the "Game" don't they..

I will try to limit my comments in the Future..
Colonial Lang...

I think I have said most of what I have to say by Now..

And go to the cemetery..with my wife...and lay flowers and place a Flag at the grave of our Son in law..Rick..

and remeber Him...and all others..reprensented by the hundreds of Waving flags ..across this cemetery...and Many others.Every where...For ALL Vets..For ALL Time..

and I will be glad its a Cold..Cloudy Rainy Day here..Appropiate for the Event..

This is NOT a Holiday..Commercial or otherwise..


And the weather is Telling Me..

That GOD...Remembers..

Thank You Who Have SERVED..

Thank You GOD..

Babak Makkinejad


Thank you for setting the record straight.


Don't know whether Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. might be Lord HawHaw in disguise.

Have no idea.

Watching Braveheart now.

There was, at that time, very severe remedies for that sort of behavior.

Patrick henry

One More Indulgence..

If I May..

First...This historic Event will Lead to One of Two outcomes..

Either evryone involved Continues Thier Strategic planning and Manipulations for MORE War and Death and Destruction..

Because the Current ADVOCATES..and ANTAGONISTS..Want to Test GODS WILL..

But Listen to the Rhetoric of MEN..for His Answers..

And THAT Rhetoric WILL Lead to WAR..

Or Reasonable minds Prevail..through Wise Council..Peacful solutions and Truces will be Made..

The Influence of the RELIGIOUS SECTS will be subdued..Peacefully..But FIRMLY..by Moderate Leaders and Voices on ALL

And we can ALL Live in Peace..

Two Coarses..Two Well Marked Paths..

Which will be Chosen..??

By the Way..

It will be Sunny and Warm here tomorrow when All traditional Organized Memorial Day Events take Place..

Im sure there may even be Rainbows..Gods Sign to Mankind..

Today...I heard God in the Wind..

IT Rained..

The Angels Cryed..for so much Wasted Human Life..

The Skys were Dark and Stormy..A Reminder of WAR..

Tomorrow..There will be Sunshine and rainbows...and God Will Speak to others in Different Ways..

As We Take Pause to remember..The Price of War..HUMAN LIFE..

Created from the Dust Of the Earth..

Into which..so much HUMAN BLOOD..has Soaked..

Taking Another Life.. and Feeding DEATHs Desire..

Who is the Only Victor..In WAR..

Least We Forget..

James Pratt

Short of building a fortified border on Iraq's frontage with Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well as Syria and buying off every Iraqi Arab Sunni adult I don't see
how the US has a chance to degrade the insurgency. I hope the neocon cabal in power doesn't hold to their self-delusion that the Arab majority resembles the select group in the Green Zone. Most of the people are not acting and speaking from scripts written in Tehran as the Green Zone SCIRI and al-Dawa types are. I wonder if the latter sometimes slip into Farsi while urging greater US efforts against the Sunni. It is ironic that the two most popular leaders of the Shi`a, Grand Ayatollah Sistani and Moqtada al-Sadr
were so accessible to the visiting Iranian foreign minister. Weren't the Shi`a supposed to be the bulwark of a pro-American government in Iraq?

john pfeifler

The cited WaPo editorial perpetuates the Bush-Blair delusion of Iraqi democratic unity and concedes the difficult reality that prevents it. The editorial also suggests a choice between two bad outcomes: the Sunni extremists win, or the Shiis will plunge Iraq into a civil war. "As British Prime Minister Tony Blair argued during his White House visit Thursday, 'now that there is a democratic government in Iraq elected by its people, and now they are confronted with those whose mission it is to destroy the hope of democracy, then our sense of mission should be equal to that'" (WaPo "Iraq's Uncertain Progress" 28 May 2006). If only Arnold Wilson and Gertrude Bell were available to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Long live the Empire.

Charlie Green

Wow, Col.--

If you keep being so blunt and contrarian, I might not see your name in USN&WR as often! Or maybe see them more often. Who knows?

I find some quote or other from you nearly every issue anymore.

W. Patrick Lang


When was I different? pl


Well, at the risk of stating the bleedin' obvious, if the Bush administration is in any way serious about stabilizing the region, then it is going to have to bow to reality and start mending fences with Iran.

W. Patrick Lang

londamium (?)

I was not referring to the bush admiistration. I meant us Americans. pl

john pfeifler


What forms the basis for a "Greater Middle East" policy for the U.S.? How do we reconcile our support for Israel with the probable results of Arab democracy in general and Palestinian in particular? How do we reconcile our thirst for oil with autocratic Arab regimes? How do we reconcile our separation of church and state with Islam? And, how do we reconcile our gut reaction against Shi'a Islam with Iran?

These appear, to me at least, rather intractable problems for U.S. foreign policy irrespective of this president or the past several presidents going back to the Carter Doctrine. What you suggest is a long-overdue assessment of our Middle East policy.

Babak Makkinejad

Does US have a Middle East policy? Is that even structurally possible? By that I mean is there a Middle East Desk somewhere in US Government that has the authority and duty to formulate US policy in the Middle East?
I am not being rhetorical. My understanding has been that there is an Iran Desk, a Turkey Desk, an Egypt Desk etc. in the State Department. How can US government create a coherent policy that encompasses all these states without having some coordinating body?

W. Patrick Lang


It is quite possible for the US to have a Middle East policy. We had a unified policy against the Warsaw Pact countries for many years.

We have not had a Middle East policy until this administration and their's is built on dreams and delusions. pl

john pfeifler


The State Department has a Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs: "The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), headed by Assistant Secretary C. David Welch, deals with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. diplomatic relations with Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Regional policy issues that NEA handles include Iraq, Middle East peace, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and political and economic reform" (http://www.state.gov/p/nea/). Policy authority, however, belongs to the president.

Policy coordination happens in the NSC: "The National Security Council is the President's principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and cabinet officials. Since its inception under President Truman, the function of the Council has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies. The Council also serves as the President's principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies" (http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/). Without the president the NSC becomes the Principals Committee; without the principals, the Deputies Committee; without the Deputies, Interagency Working Groups. Theoretically, a coherent, multi-agency foreign policy for the Middle East could wind its way through this system. The system put together more or less coherent policies during the Cold War years. But, as pl points out, such a coherent policy does not appear to exist for the Middle East. Perhaps that is a result of not having a monolithic threat in the Middle East. Of course, some would maintain Islamic fundamentalism poses just such a monolithic threat.

We seem to have a hodge podge of policies. NATO shapes much policy with Turkey, oil shapes policy with the Gulf States and other potential suppliers, Iraq and Iran are threats, Israel shapes policy with Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan. Morocco and Saudi Arabia are special friends, and the rest seem to be of marginal interest. Other than the Carter Doctrine's assertion that the Persian Gulf is a vital interest to the U.S. nothing else seems to tie the region together.


When we inevitably deal with the the Greater Middle East - whether the current administration recognizes that there is one or not - we'll find ourselves a few steps behind the Russians:

-- "This meeting (27 May) comes after Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov confirmed that Russia would fulfill its contract with Tehran for the delivery of Russian Top-M1 ballistic missile complexes in spite of U.S. objections. Moscow has thus made efforts again to confirm its “special relationship” with Iran and to take the initiative away from the more bellicose."

So with their usual blindness to cause and effect the Masters of the World on the Potomac are busily ensuring Putin won't be inclined to help us out. A somewhat offbeat essay on the Russian viewpoint of our competing interests in the region:

Then of course China has been making inroads with Iran, too ... the US may be backed into a corner where a military option is the only one left open. God forbid. How are the Saudis and the other Sunni countries dealing with these developments?


Col. Lang says:
"Congratulations to all the Shia cherishing naifs of the Utopian/Jacobin/neocon coven. You got what you wanted."

Yes, they did. They won:
"One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today."
Michael Ledeen, National Review, Aug 2, 2002

Barbara Morgan

This administration has no policy about anything. Every action is political to keep the power, money, influence for the inner circle of family and friends who have benefitted from the quest for control of the world's oil. See "American Dynasty" by Kevin Phillips.


Stabilizing greater middle east?

ehrrr... we are already in regional conflict right now.

1. Bushco has no problem racheting up the rethoric against anybody. The commie russian, the commie chinese, the old europe, The axis of evil, Syrians, Egyptians, ..(who else left?)

2. Russians and the Chineses already decide to eff Bush and give the Iranian nuke, various air defense equipments. Push them some more, they will start feeding the Iranian with strategic information and high tech portable munitions.

IT IS already a regional war.

not an open conflict with front line and nightly TV yet, but it has moved beyond diplomatic bickering. It now has entered low level covert war. (strella, soon high tech mine and armor piercing)

Syria certainly already won the entire western Iraq. (not in absolute control yet, but they control the pace.)

After summer we will know what becomes of the eastern part.

ON economic front, the entire region hates Bush so much, they have no problem bringing the oil price to $60-70+, if needed $100 within 5 days.

Bush gonna pisses off the Japanese and the Chinese with his mad cow/exchange rate rethoric? THey control near $900 billion of our debt. Last time Chaves dumb his $30 Billion, the dollar sunk nearly 2%.

Bushco and neocons are too stupid to see what's going on. They think Foxnews will solve all problem.

john pfeifler

The Russians and Chinese are returning favors. When President Bush read Putin's soul I wonder if he realized Russia might want to get even for Afghanistan if ever the opportunity presented itself? (think of our fascination with Iran since the hostage crisis) As for China, U.S.-Taiwan policy might have something to do with their actions. The U.S. has been playing in both Russia's and China's backyards for years. Iran is just too good to pass up for either of them. Nothing boosts the armaments business like some good old fashioned saber rattling and revenge. Every president has to consider the consequences of his predecessors' policies on his policies. No clean slates for any of them to dirty up on their own.

Babak Makkinejad

john pfeifler:

Thank you for your very thorough response. I learnt a lot from it.

Much obliged.


"In the last six weeks, a resurgent Taliban has surprised the Americans with the ferocity of its annual spring offensive and set some officials here to worrying that the United States might become tied down in a prolonged battle as control slips away from the central government — in favor of the movement that harbored Al Qaeda before 2001. And the number of American troops has quietly risen, not fallen.

"Afghanistan is the sleeper crisis of this summer," says John J. Hamre, who was deputy defense secretary from 1997 to 1999.

Not only have officials been surprised by the breadth of the militants' presence and the brazenness of their suicide attacks, roadside bombings and assaults by large units."

Springtime for killing in Afghanistan

With news of riots sparked by a traffic accident involving US troops today, what do the knowledgeable folks here think of the situation in Afghanistan? Curious what ought to be the wider Middle East policy - Israel,Palestine, Arabia, Persia, N. Africa, Central Asia, Pakistan? Are we in competition with Russia and China or can they be partners?

Charlie Green

This AM pl posted:


>When was I different? pl

Well, previously you were more, uh, nuanced in your statements. At least that was my perception.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Blog powered by Typepad