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20 December 2006


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John Hammer

Diplomacy as a continuation of war by other means?


I would add the following.

At this season, the holiest of the Christian year, I do not think it is inappropriate to examine the teachings of Christ. How could it be?

[50] Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
[51] And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear.
[52] Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

Mathew, Chapter 26

The United States took the sword in this war. We started it. We started it for no good reason. We were not provoked, like the disciple who attacked the servant of the high priest.

Shall we, at Christmas 2006, continue our aggression? Shall we make a mockery of the teachings of the very man we pretend to follow?


I disagree with the many here that believe your notions come too late; rather, they come far too early. Rather than 1815, one should look back at 1618

and hope that a ME Westphalia doesn't take 30 years. But try to see the doubt in that hope; for grievances of either decades (e.g., Israeli / Palestine), 100s of years (e.g., Sunni / Shia), or 1000s of years (e.g., Arab / Persian) will not likely be resolved without at least the bloodshed comparable to that of Europe 400 years ago – that is not the human nature of the beast.

This will be particularly true with an instigator using new powerful tools and methods

to rip open even the most ancient of scars

As everyone focuses on the Decider's follies, little is said of how successful the neo-Khawarij have been in fulfilling their desires
and implementing their strategies

Iraq has not only revived the neo-Khawarij, but has given them the laboratory to hone their skills in anticipation of taking on their next, and two most precious, goals of bringing "the savagery" to the people and lands of the apostolates known as the House of Saud and as the Persian mullahs.

Recast your many good options in light of this insight of what is truly going on; we will need good thinkers for what is to come over next 20 to 30 years. right now, we don't have a clue.


Colonel, thanks for your interview below and the paper; an all too rare realistic discussion of the alternatives in Iraq.

I am with Walrus. Realists have as just as big blinders on as the neo-conservatives. To keep their pension and future consulting jobs the Generals went along with a self evident crazy scheme of invading and occupying a Muslim country with only Christian soldiers. They and corporate media are guilty of not comprehending that the civilian leadership and goodly portion of the Pentagon had been taken over by radical true believers.

When the Sunni insurgents have defeated American forces in Al Anbar province and a Sunni Shiite civil war has broken out, it is insanity to marginally increase the boots on the ground and attack the largest Shiite militia; meanwhile refusing to talk to neighboring countries on possible political settlements.

"This has led to an unholy and unstated alliance between mullahs, Rabbis and Pastors who have an unholy interest in a bloodthirsty "crusade" of one form or another, and complicate matters accordingly"

W. Patrick Lang

John Hammer and Got A Watch

I am disheartened by your unwillingness to accept that an alternative policy must be proposed to the path that the Bushocons have placed us on. It is irrelevent whether or not he will adopt such a course. We all know that he will not, but if you do not state the alternative, then you will not have a standard by which to judge his folly.

War-diplomacy-politics. These are all just different tools in the same process.

Color me Byzantine. pl

Babak Makkinejad


There is a fundamental tension between the challenge of (Western) Modernity - in its post-Christian phase - and Islam and indeed all religions including Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism etc.

secular vs. non-secular, science vs. revelation, etc. are only skirmishes in a much wider war of ideas both within and without the Western Civilization.

While more education will certainly help address the educational poverty of many areas of the world at the individual level -by and in itself - such an educational approach only begs the question of what should be taught and what Truth is.

The Ware of the Prophet, the Crusades, the Religious Wars of Europe were fundamentally wars of ideas and truths.

Modernity posits its own Truths - it is like Don Juan in the Mozart opera: it knows of God but wants to ignore it and do its own thing. On the other hand, there are several billion people in the world - such as Muslims, Jews, Christians, and even Hindus - for whom God is a central figure and pillar.

No amount of (largely secular and technical at that) education can resolve this contradiction.

In 1920s the best Muslim response was Atta Turk - in 1980s the best Muslim response was Ayatullah Khomeini.


pl: "We all know that [Bush] will not [adopt an alternative policy]..."


So, within the confines of our current political circumstances, what can be done to prepare the way for a more sensible policy, post-Bush?

It's clear that there needs to be a regional confab of some sort.

What can the Dems and authentic conservative Repubs do over the next two years to signal that a new approach will follow once Bush is back clearing brush in Crawford?

Are there more concrete steps, other than appearing on the Sunday morning shows and "signaling," that the new Congress can implement?


Now where can you get a good working Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord when you need one? After the fruitcake idealists, self-interested cynicism seems rather attractive.

Merry Christmas, Colonel -- and fellow Langistas.

John Hammer


I’d like to thank you for bringing your insight down to Ft. Hood a couple of years ago and addressing my St. Mary’s International Relations class. We all found it illuminating.

“War-diplomacy-politics. These are all just different tools in the same process.”

No argument here.

Regards JMH, former SSgt TACP type


Point well made PL. Unless there are alternative policy proposals the American people will not know what the choices are. The great problem we have had over the past 5 years has been that there have not been alternate policy proposals that have been given the time of day by the corporate media. The only proposals we hear drummed up are the fantasy ideas of the Decider and his "Rasputin".

Once the American people understand that there are other approaches that could likely result in stability and a more peaceful ME future they will naturally gravitate there. The elections last Nov were fundamentally about Iraq and the electorate repudiated the Decider's strategy.

I hope the next Congress will be more receptive to bringing folks like you to the Hill and educating America about the choices . I watched the Deciders last press conference. He is more delusional with every day and completely incoherent. We need to up the ante in terms of public pressure. I am hopeful that the next Congress including several Republicans understand the gravity of the situation and provide the vehicle for alternative policies to be considered. No longer can we be deferential to this President whose judgment is beyond pathetic.


The Middle East (if not the world) is a Rubik's Cube of ancient and not-so-ancient hatreds. We are seeing the last attempts by hands using nation-state paradigms to maintain the Cube in a harmonious pattern. These hands, particularly those so focused on correcting Bush's follies as the mythical solution, are blinded by their illusion of control.

The Cube is increasingly in the hands of the neo-Khawarij, who, like diamond cutters, are becoming increasingly adept at cracking the fault lines. They, however, have not the diamond cutter's goal of near-perfect order, but instead seek, for decades, utter chaotic disfiguration, if not disintegration of the Cube into zones of savagery and barbarism.

To even begin to contemplate a way forward, one needs to come to understand how much more easy it is for neo-Khawarij’s 5th Generation Warfare to scramble the Cube than it is for all-the-kings-horses-and-all-the-kings-men of the relatively-recent nation-state paradigm to maintain harmonious patterns.

W. Patrick Lang


Tell me about the neo-Khawarij, please. pl

W. Patrick Lang

John Hammer

I remember the occasion well. A good class. I am always happy to teach my own people.

The corps commander was offered a meeting with me but declined. pl

Utah Blaine

Dear Col. Lang,

I think that you have written an intelligent and well reasoned plan of action regarding the Middle East. Many of the comments that have been posted have been illuminating as well. There is, however, one important factor in this discussion that is missing from both your analysis and the other posted comments. How will our friends in Saudi Arabia feel about this international congress (or any other plan going forward)? There are many complex issues related to Iraq, the Middle East, Israel/Palestine, but fundamentally whatever we do in Iraq will be heavily influenced by the opinions of our friends in Riyadh. A seachange change in US/Saudi relations would be an unmitigated disaster for the US, dwarfing by comparison any of the foolishness in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine committed by the Bush administration.


Colonel: I don't agree with the poster who calls your proposal an "exercise in futility."

I think its an excellent idea. How would you envision such a conference to come about?

W. Patrick Lang


The president of the US and several other world leaders would have to embrace it and make t their own. Something like Wilson's embrace of the post WW1 diplomatic game.


I think the Saudis would be glad to see such a process if their interests were dealt with like other peoples'. pl


Colonel Lang,

What I like most about your ideas was they were drafts...starting points, and nothing was written in stone.

Successful marriages, arbitration negotiations, and diplomacy are dependent on compromise. Give a little; receive a little, but no-one hogs the points, because they respect the wishes of their spouse, person/country at the table. To have a harmonious relationship and live in peace requires that all parties see the other's point of view.

Because I am from a tiny country, Canada, that really has no voice in how the world turns, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the United States as the sole super power does have an enormous stake in how the middle east turns out, and will play a central role in the negotiations.

The current administration has a philosophy of us and them and you and the diplomatic corps are willing to compromise. The United States should pursue its objectives and goals, but they must relent on some issues that they aren't in agreement if there is to be peace in the Middle East.

Patrick, your ideas are a very good start for a base of a meeting in the Middle East. I wish you good luck in getting your proposal accepted.


Secular values cannot exist in an island. They must be allowed to flow back and forth, nourished by the tide of trade and travel of merchants and good. With that interchange and the grubbing of individuals for wealth and the pursuit of happiness comes PEACE.

The European Coal and Steel Community crafted by le General de Gualle & Adenaeur has grown into the EU. Who could now imagine War b/n France & Germany? Unthinkable?

"During World War I, then-Captain de Gaulle was severely wounded in March 1916 at the gruesome Battle of Verdun and left for dead on the battlefield. He was, however, found and taken prisoner by the Germans. He made five unsuccessful escape attempts, and was put in solitary confinement at Ingolstadt fortress, a retaliation camp, where he encountered another incorrigible — Russian Lieutenant Mikhail Tukhachevsky." (WikiP partly my edit)

Thus was the importance of the Abdullah-Beirut initiative. Upon a dare of the stupid NYT collumnist Thomas Friedman. It was all on the table before, but it was made explicit. Full peace with TRADE for merely obeying UN resolutions !!!!!!!!

But Alas Ralph Nader (of full blooded Leb descent) in FL and all those Jewish-American ladies in Palm Beach mistakenly voting for Pat Buchanan. And we get the Decider by a handful of votes to cast and nudge the MidEast not, into the path of Peace and Trade, but into War and fanaticism.

In Chaos Theory, it is known as the Butterfly Effect.

Cloned Poster

Olmert and Blair are just sock puppets, the sooner Bush realises the better.

Embrace Hakim?

He just sent Iran POWER.

Tom Milton

Thank you for this enlightening forum. The "ME Grand Concert" IMO passes all the logic tests, but will not occur until America's power brokers come to their senses and force Bush to end this nightmare. I believe this idea can gain serious traction. I suggest we readers present the concept individually to our Senators and Representatives ASAP.

Oh, by the way, we need to address our 800 lb gorilla problem as well.

The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are implementing long term programs to insure their future energy security. We need to develop our own multiple alternative energy strategies for near-term implementation. I do not believe wars of attrition are cost-beneficial for a high tech society. This is especially the case where alternatives are available.

If Peak Oil is really upon us and Iraq's reserves represent only 4 years or so of world consumption, we need to rethink our current goals and strategy.

The better investment may well be a massive re-engineering of our energy production and consumption systems to minimize our future need for resource wars in distant places.

Think of all the new products we could export.


Thanks for the response, pl.

Did you watch Condoleeza Rice on the NewsHour tonight?


Dear Colonel,
I have read it again, several times. And I know it is the kind of piece I will continue to revisit. I would like to think my fellow posters are well aware of your knowledge of the ME, past and present - and that you could rather easily write a two hundred pager on Israel/Palestine, or on any number of subjects on the ME and others - gleaned firsthand. Sometimes, it is what isn't said that is important. Miles Davis understood that well, it was a big part of his genius. The following point illustrates that magnificently.

3. Israel must be a full participant in all conferences and meetings involved in this process. In return, Israel will undertake to make Palestine (the state) a vital and thriving economy.

This is brilliant. Please add statesman and visionary to your most impressive resume. Maybe one day we can all join up at the eatery in Old Town you recommended and referred to as a "hole in the wall" for a great meal.

Tom Milton

*****NOT A COMMENT******

Might the US Institute for Peace be an appropriate venue for presenting your concept for a Grand Concert?


W. Patrick Lang

Tom Milton

I would like to publish the concert piece. I never have any luck with the WAPO editorial staff. Anyone have any thoughts about this? pl


Pat -

Before real negotiations can happen, interested parties have to see what they potentially giveup/gain in negotiations as worth more than they can get on their own. Aside from the impediments of current leadership, the complexity of all the interest groups and age old grievance, it seems that most of these groups still seem to think they can "win" more on the field than at the conference table. Your ideas certainly are a sane and intelligent path to as much peace as one can expect, but I think there will have to be a lot more bloodletting before all the groups are exhausted enough to negotiate. This is why the Decider says that we'll all be long dead before history judges his project in the Middle East. Sadly, history is often made by those who can fixate on a distant and unlikely vision, ignoring the heaped bodies in the foreground.

Lately I've been wondering - would we have gotten here even without the stupendous incompetance of the current crop of leaders? Saddam couldn't have lived forever and the schisms across the ME have been there, kindling for the boy king's pyromania, for a long time - could this violent evolution have been tamed? Clearly, not with our current leaders.

Happy Holidays all..

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