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20 October 2006


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North Bay

My take on these mixed signals has them as mere campaign subterfuge- a grudging acknowledgment that popular disenchantment with this great tragedy has reached a point where some type of hope must be dangled before voters, however forlorn that hope in fact is.


As always, thanks for telling it like it is, Colonel. I don't know why so many people have such a hard time understanding that the administration is set in concrete on this. Part of me thinks it's just the need of beltway journalists and think tankers alike to have something new to write about from time to time. If they don't get it, they'll make it up.

I'm being only partially facetious here. I realize there's a hard edge of real desperation -- if not despair -- to the current babbling about "policy changes" and "new strategies," but over the past few weeks the media chatter has drifted right across the line into outright fantasy. The realists have turned into surrealists. Baker now sounds as deluded as Bush.

I suppose it's because of the election. Afterwards, maybe we can get a more plausible debate going -- like, how many more Iraqis and Americans will die over the next two years of staying the course?


Pat - were you aware that Bush has bought a 100,000 acre ranch in Paraguay when you wrote this post?

Given all the talk about Hezbollah terrorist operations in the so-called tri-border area, I have to guess that it is not a spider hole for him, although there are probably none of Prescott Bush's Nazi drinking buddies still alive down there.


The anticipated ISG report takes me back to October of 1972 and Kissinger's pre-election surprise "Secret Plan" for victory in Vietnam. Or was that for "peace with honor" ... a concept that the current regime in DC seems to have abandoned, assuming they could understand honor at all.

In any event, reports of the ISG offering an impending solution to the Iraq issue this close to an election is probably more domestic political crap. That the rumors are conflicting and self-contradictory only plays into the strategy. You can't fault any plan that isn't adopted, and there are plenty of excuses available for not doing so, i.e. the Democrats only understand cut and run. (As HRH GW Rex stated yesterday, the only thing Dems have in common is they don't want victory.) Conversely, staying the course can be presented as preferable to some half-baked plan hatched by a bunch of fossilized diplomats.

Court Prevaricator Tony Snow can dictate the latest spin to the kingdom's stenographers on a day-to-day basis depending on polling data, playing either side for best advantage.

When is a plan not a plan? When it's an affront to your intelligence.

Frank durkee

Col. Harlan Ullman is being quoted in the Australian media as saying that the situation in Iraq is out of our control. Is that a reality statement, an exageration, or 'off the wall'? If it has even minimal truthfulness what does that point to for our troops and their efforts in Iraq?
Frank Durkee

W. Patrick Lang


Harlan is a retired Navy Commander who wrote an interesting book that was creatively misunderstood in rumsfeld pentagon.

I would agree that Iraq is going to go "all the way down" in dissolution and there is precious little that we can do at this point to affect the outcome.

We should be thinking about how we are going to deal with the aftermath. pl


To "Phantom" above;

I think "GStK" is an abbreviation for "God Save the King." You might look downthread for the source.


There's only one reason to buy a 100,000 acre ranch in Paraguay that is next to an American military base.

Any guesses?

The envelope please. Answer: nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere.

In general, the winds travel from West to East. The radiation from a nuclear war in the Middle East will probably stay in the Northern Hemisphere to a very great extent. Or at least that's what the Bush's hope.

Nice people.


I now find it hard to believe that the "Rapturists" have not won.

Rumsfeld inspired by God. That's Rapture-Ready if ever I've heard it.

And now I think this will go down between the election and when the new Congress is sworn in.

They're going nuclear. And then they're going to Paraguay.

Nice people.


Shr Fang Tian

The aftermath is going to involve a bitch-panged economic recession that will exacerbate the already precariously and laboriously hidden American economic woes.

The military will withdraw and remain at a high level of preparedness in anticipation of the civil-war's wind-down; it will furthermore carefully "monitor" the Iraqi situation for any sign of foreign "interference" and may well use "reports" (regardless of whether or not they are real) of such incursions to intercede with air-power in favor of one side or another, or even to push further for an Irani-American conflict.

Eventually, the civil strife will start to level out; my money says that it will resolve into a regime that's quite hostile towards the U.S. or instead mimics the worst of the 1980's dictatorships in El Salvador or Honduras, except with worse atrocities and a greater overall population decrase.

I am sure that whatever regime emerges, it will experience tremendous interference and will find it very difficult to coalesce because of covert U.S. operations that our intelligence services will use in an attempt to shape the political outcome of the conflict.

Such covert ops will be used to "gather intelligence" to demonstrate "unacceptable" Irani interference in the post-occupation environment. The operations will be modeled on the Honduras and Salvadoran models developed in the 1980's (Negroponte has, after all, already had carte blanche to do as he wishes for some two years, now).

Eventually, however, a regime will take form, and then the question will be simple: if that regime has protection from some other group -- like, say, the Iranis, the Chinese (via Iran), or (more distant possibility) the Russians -- then a new version of the Cold War may very well erupt as these nations compete with American for control of the Iraqi oil resources. We may see Iran openly arm itself through an alliance with China (what i suspect will be the case, although truthfully that's just intuition speaking there), or we may see something completely different.

OTOH, if the new Iraqi government doesn't yet have protection -- which is possible, i suppose -- then by the time the new Iraqi playing field starts to take shape the U.S. will orchestrate some sort of "rescue mission" along the lines of the Kosovo campaign and occupation. This will happen regardless of which party -- Democrat or Republican -- dominates the government.

They'll do it because the U.S. needs the oil to keep it's habituated lifestyle afloat, and needs it equally as much to guarantee that Chinese labor remains available at third-world prices.

Regardless of what happens, the idea that the U.S. is just going to get up and go home and leave the Iraqis to fight it out among themselves is pure fantasy. U.S. involvement in this war is far from over; i doubt it it will be ended even ten years from now.

FWIW: the Chinese have, up until now, maintained an unaggressive stance towards the U.S.-dominated energy market. It's obvious to the rest of the world that it is primarily from its dominance of the oil markets and the U.S. dollars used to trade oil that the U.S. gleans most of its economic influence. The current conflict in the Gulf may very well be a prize that is valuable enough for the Chinese to risk an open face-off against current U.S. geo-political strategy, and it is likewise possible that their conventional military forces may, by that time, already be powerful enough to stand in open defiance against U.S. military authority.

Even if the Chinese forces aren't able to improve that dramatically and quickly, their missile and nuclear capabilities already make it possible for them to offer an "aggression defense shield" to nations in the region.

In our post-colonial world it is easy for Americans and (to a slightly lesser extent) Europeans to forget that the Persia-North India-China trading corridor was, for millenia, the most cozy and fertile technological, intellectual and economic region on the planet. While admitting that India and China currently suffer from horrific population pressures, i can't see any justification for not presuming that geographic and economic forces will naturally re-align Asian, African and European commerce along those latitudes.

Moreover, the more ire the U.S. garners from the world, the more likely it will be that this future comes to pass sooner, rather than later.



Reconciling ego and reality

By Harlan Ullman
October 18, 2006

"The world indeed has changed. But not as we think. American power and perceived omnipotence have been greatly neutralized or displaced." ....

"This means aligning our ego with reality. Mr. Bush once called for a more humble foreign policy. The times never demanded one more."

Best Wishes


All this talk of course changes and resolve is just beltway puff; in reality the dithering Deciders decisions will have little impact on the dark future that awaits Iraq. We are now just spectators in Iraq. I think we are seeing the likely pattern of our retreat; it will make clinging to the helicopter skids look oddly dignified.

It's already happening in the South. As the British hand over their bases to the Iraqis they fall to militia lead looters while outnumbered unmotivated Iraqi troops look on. Now we have Amarah itself seized by the Mahdi army from the Badr controlled police we handed it over too. Large sectarian militia units now stage reprisal raids against rival cities. More and more the British resort to mobile remote camps, staying in one place just makes them a mortar target.

As the militias, bandits and death squads stand up we stand down. In reality we continuously "cut and run" from a fight that was lost two years ago.

We will leave eventually when the next POTUS concludes Iraq is a Vietnam like quagmire. But we are mired in a far bigger problem here and it will bring us all back to the region again as the chaos spreads beyond Iraq's borders.


As Bush teleconferences with his generals today:

'Religious leaders of both Shia and Sunni communities signed "Mecca Covenant" Friday forbidding further bloodshed and sectarian violence in Iraq.

Participants included senior Shia and Sunni clerics, and the top clerics in the holy city of Najaf, the former leader of Iraq's largest Sunni party and a senior official from the largest Shia, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

The fatwas were vetted and approved by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country's top Shia leader, and radical figure Muqtada al-Sadr, who is not a high ranking cleric but runs the Mahdi Army.

At the end of the signing ceremony, a presenter read a message from al-Sistani and other top Shia clerics supporting the final communique. He also read a letter of support from Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the grand sheik of al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, Sunni Islam's top seat of learning. '


Interesting to see if either conference will have any real effect.

Tom Griffin

Maybe General Dannatt's comments indicate Britain is a little bit closer to Paraguay?

The British military does have form for undermining policies and even governments it does not like. Check out some of the goings on in Northern Ireland in the mid-1970s that went under the label Clockwork Orange.

Got A Watch

Since reality is a country most Americans have never entered, this debate amounts to pure speculation. Just today Shrub said he will "stay the course no matter what" or words to that effect. Isn't that the classic definition of stupididty: continually repeating an action while hoping for a different result (to paraphrase)?

It is amazing how far America has fallen, in less than 10 years from widely respected to feared and contemptible. Somewhere in his cave Osama is smiling, as all appears to be going according to his plan. Two more years of Shrub and his ilk and you won't recognise the place.


Col: What is your opinion about the reports that Iran has informed Bahrain and Qatar that they will consider an American attack on Iran as an attack by the Gulf States on Iran? Iran would then target oil and gas facilities throughout the Persian Gulf. Is this true? And is this the Iranian version of a Samson defense?


Arbogast, "On the Beach" is not meteorology.


I have a question about the future state of the military. It is said younger officers are reading "Dereliction Of Duty" while senior officers who get promoted seem to be replaying the docility that so weakened the army. Will this lead to stress in the future? Was there similar stress after Vietnam? If there is tension between levels does it encourage reform?


One thing appears to be clear: Bush et al would love to get out of Iraq, but they believe quite seriously that they can't.

And the reason they can't is that their puppet regime that lives in the Green Zone is an imaginary government that, if it leaves the Green Zone will get its head blown off.

The Wonderful World of Disney...costing 50 to 100 American lives a month.

4 billion

A question for history buff's that may seem a little off topic, but, on closer inspection maybe not. When Hitler hit the election trails, was part of his platform "disband the democratic system and install a dictator/decider"? I'll hazard a guess and say no.

As an Australian I must say the level of reverance Americans have for pres. and flag is something quite foreign to us. The acceptance of 2700+ dead in a dubious war is perplexing, in Oz we have had one soldier die (in dubious circumstance) in Iraq, and we had a government inquiry into that one death.

It seems that 9/11 has triggered off a subconcious reaction that unfettered, could lead to armagheddon, which will not be a disappointment to some. One of the few things I am certain about in life is 'be careful what you wish for, it may come true'


It is a shame that the right wing took the exactly wrong lesson to heart from the loss of the Vietnam War. It wasn’t the press that turned Americans against the War. It was Americans realizing that their government lied to them. There was no light at the end of the tunnel.

In Iraq the Big Lie metastasized into Agit-prop with corporate media enabling. If there was reporting in the USA as clear and informative as the Asia Times articles cited above by Abu Sinan, an actual intelligent debate could be held about the future of the Middle East and America’s need for secure energy sources and safe borders.

The true believers and the neo-conservatives ignored all the lessons of the 20th century and embarked on two occupations on the cheap. History is clear that the only two ways an Empire can secure an occupation is to uplift the inhabitants by bringing the benefits of civilization or by pacification with overwhelming force and population pressure. Since America can no longer do either in Iraq and Afghanistan, the USA is fated to pull its troops out of both countries sooner or later.

The worry in this discussion is how can leaders who so totally and completely ignore reality suddenly start acting rationally in their last two years of power? It can’t happen.


The chaos in Iraq has its own momentum. The question is what are the possibilities in terms of the aftermath? Curious to get others opinions on the range of scenarios?

Does this lead to a wider ME conflagration? Does the anarchy provide a safe harbor for jihadists? Would Russia and China get more aggressive noting US weakness? Will the US military become the scapegoat?


"Agit-prop", Vietnam Vet, many thanks for the term which defines much of the US MSM as I see it from the north shore of the St. Lawrence river. Recently Frank Luntz has arrived here. Big difference though: it's too early for his persuasive language package, on behalf of our Conservative PM, to be amplified and resonated through our MSM thus sparing us reflections of Alice and her looking glass, so far, in Canadian MSM.


"When Hitler hit the election trails, was part of his platform "disband the democratic system and install a dictator/decider"?

Hitler was an opportunist, like most able politicians, he crafted his words and actions for his current audience. He toned down the NSDAPs strident anti-Catholicism for instance.

But Hitler was always had a frank revolutionary purpose: "destroy democracy with the weapons of democracy" as he believed: "democracy is the foul and filthy avenue to communism". His goal: "We want to liberate Germany from the fetters of an impossible parliamentary democracy -- not because we are terrorists, not because we intend to gag the free spirit. On the contrary, the spirit has never made themselves its master"

Hitler in 1925: "If out-voting them takes longer than out-shooting them, at least the result would be guaranteed by their own constitution...Any lawful process is slow...Sooner or later we shall have a majority -- and after that, Germany"

From Mein Kampf: "The NSDAP [Nazi] Party must not serve the masses, but rather dominate them"

This will resonate with those that value a independent judiciary: "The Furher is the supreme judge of the nation; there is no position in the area of constitutional law in the Third Reich independent of this elemental will of the Furher"

And one for the preening unilaterlists: "One works best when alone."


And no; Bush is not like Hitler. Bush may have played fast and lose with The Constitution, as many Presidents have, but he believes American democracy is God's instrument in the world. That messianic tendency combined with a startling lack of competence I'm afraid has been a large part of the problem.


Vietnam Vet is on to something. If it were just the Bush Administration spinning Iraq, then the loss of faith would be manageable. Instead, the governing class--Democrat and Republican--enabled the war. And the corporate media went completely AWOL. The disillusionment will be universal.

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