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04 January 2007

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Matthew

Walrus knows that the "twilight war" (GWOT) should be called the "piggy bank" war. It will last until we run out of money--and then declare victory. Followed by a TV movie...and then a bitter Oliver Stone film.

Leila

"Successive Congresses will bind the President and the military industrial complex hand and foot to prevent a repeat of this folly." That sounds great but how do you know this will happen? Seems to me that the MI complex is entrenched in its power, and the Congress is in its pocket. Until we make campaigns financed by public money (with free TV ads - because networks broadcast under license from the gov. for the public good, so they can be banned from charging for election ads) until then we won't see Congress binding any major corporate interest hand and foot. Not MI, not insurance or health, nobody.

I am supposed to be an optimist but on this one, I just don't see it happening. But I sure do like the idea and I hope I'm wrong.

Leila

"4. Right wing thinktanks and their associated pundits will be discredited." I wish. Seems to me there's a hard core of folks who have bought the koolaid, and some of them seem to own newspapers. Again, I know I'm being very negative, but this prognosis is another one that doesn't seem like it will happen based on the way things are now.

But the climate of opinion can change quickly. Let's see.

arbogast

He's right.

Different Clue

Where do Baker/Hamilton and the ISG figure in all this? They want to back us out of Iraq, leaving Iran and Syria intact, and arranging an accomodation between Israel and Palestine
and all Israel's other neighbors, involving Israel confined to within its borders of '67, and the State of Palestine arising upon the territory of to-be-de-occupied Palestine. That
goes against the LikudNeocon
goals. Does the Baker/Hamilton ISG group picture itself to be a bold
group of rebels fighting the
Ruling Class? I thought the
ISG group pictured itself to
be speaking FOR the old establishment ruling class.
After all, some of the items
Walrus describes the PNAC/Neocons as wanting are also items which Baker and his traditional establishment also want. For example, the Baker community also supports eternal runaway military spending for major investor
profits. Baker, Bush, etc.,
invest in or work for the Carlyle Group. Are there any Neocons in the Carlyle Group? Baker, Bush, etc., also don't want any soulsearching about our manipulable system. Baker was the lead lawyer, after all, in the Republican Party
effort to prevent an honest
vote recount in Florida and
get the Supreme Court to install Bush as President. Baker...led that effort. Is
Baker a Neocon? And doesn't
the Establishment which the Baker/Hamilton ISG speaks for also want to preserve Military-Industrial Complex
primacy and profitability unbound? And doesn't the traditional Establishment Upper Class also oppose the
existence of a Peace Dividend, lest taxes harvested from working class
hamsters such as myself be returned as social and civil
infrastructure spending back
to working class hamsters such as myself?

That is why it still looks to me as though we are
seeing a power-struggle WITHIN the Ruling Classes, between the Baker-Bush type
Establishment and the LikudNeocons whom the Baker-
Buscists installed into powerful positions in order to write the sales brochures
and sell the war-hype in order to defend and extend
Establishment Power against just the reformist trends Walrus outlines above.
I hadn't considered the Kaiser Wilhelm analogy which
Walrus offers. It could be very useful in analyzing our
drift toward World War Desert One. However, the analogy which had occured to
me some time ago involves Germany in 1933. The German
elite thought the Hitler Nazis would be a useful movement for defeating German Communism, Socialism,
and Workerism. The Nazi Party got a plurality, not a
majority, of votes in elections, and the German elite could see their Nazi
vehicle losing popularity. So they installed von Hindenburg as President and Hitler as Chancellor while they still had the chance. They assumed they would control Hitler, use him, and
then discard him. They didn't think he knew how to consolidate his own power and rise to rule the Establishment itself. In the same way, the Corporation-Old Money elite,
working through Baker himself at the critical Florida moment, worked to install Cheney/Bush into the
Presidency, assuming that they would control the Cheney/Bush Administration.
Instead, Cheney, Bush, and
Rumsfeld brought in the NeoCons, who worked with Bush and his already-pre-existing desire to invade Iraq in any case, to engineer the invasion. I also sincerely wonder whether President Bush isn't
a True Believer in the Robertson-Falwell Book of Revelation End Times Rapture
vision. I wonder whether President Bush might sincerely want a nuclear war
over the whole earth in order to hasten the Return of Christ and the Advent of
His Kingdom. Certainly some
of his extremist 'Christian
Zionist' supporters want that.
I can't be satisfied to accept events as an unavoidable tragedy, in which we all get to play the
part of people already locked in the rolling boxcars. If there is a "War
In Heaven"--a power struggle
within the American Ruling Class, is there something we
can do to support the Baker ISG side for now? Long enough to short-circuit and
prevent the Drive to Iran?
I know my thoughts about
Bush and etc. are uncharitable but time-running-out and danger rising make me uncharitable.
I don't question Walrus's analysis of the LikudNeocons' goals and motives. I only offer my alternative view of where the power centers may be, who wants what, and where the fault lines are in the hope that: the more accurately and precisely we
understand exactly what is going on inside the Power Centers, the better chance we have of applying the right kind of pain against the right pressure points to
make the System pivot away from its present Attack Iran
course. And for the immediate future, I think maybe helping the Baker ISG
group defeat the CheneyBush
NeoCon/Rapture-Seeker group
would be the best way to spend the next 2 or 3 months. If anyone else thinks that line of thought is useful, does anyone have real ideas on how to do that?

arbogast

I would like to flesh out Walrus' prediction.

The key is John Negroponte.

He just resigned his post as the head of the entire National Security apparatus to go work for Condoleeza Rice.

Yes, you heard that right.

Ask yourself why. Well, there are two possibilities. Either working for Rice is really great or heading National Security is really bad. Let's eliminate choice one. Working for Rice can't possibly be that great.

So that leaves choice two. But, hey, what's so bad about being the big man at National Security?

Nothing at all...unless you have been told that there will be a terrorist nuclear attack on NYC that is necessary to enable the Bush administration to re-institute the draft and take the country to war against Iran and whoever else Iran can get to help them.

You're Negroponte. You can accept the necessity for wiping out NYC (probably Hillary with the same stone). But you just don't want to take the blame. So you go work for Rice.

Marcello

"3. Successive Congresses will bind the President and the military industrial complex hand and foot to prevent a repeat of this folly.

4. Right wing thinktanks and their associated pundits will be discredited.

6. A decade of soul searching and reform about the electoral system, the media, campaign finance, lobbying and similar issues will occur - sharply reducing the powers of the current ruling class to manipulate Americans so easily."

Frankly, I think you are dreaming. The american public,or more accurately the portions of it that actually matter, is by and large addicted to militarism, is right wing (in the Rush Limbaugh sense of the term)
and has no really major issues with the current economic-political setup. These are the people who gave near total backing for OIF, swallowed the propaganda begging for more and went out voting for Bush in droves after it had become clear that they had been fooled and the US was stuck fighting a guerrilla war. Only after the price to be paid skyrocketed they began having second thoughts.
The mentality which has produced this isn't going to change just because the US has lost a small war far away. It will take some time before they will be able to come up with a passable
Dolchstosslegende narrative
for their failure and spread it to an eager public, as well as
incorporating some improvements in the Army that could restore the invincibility mantle. But, bar catastrophic socio- economic upheavals it will not be a very long time.
The bottom line is that people generally have the ruling èlites that they deserve. Just like Italy got a buffoon like Berlusconi and Iraq got a bloody iron fist tyrant America got a leader with the head filled by bravado and jesus talk.

rick

My favorite line in "The March of Folly"(which reads like today's paper) is a quote from a French general who was assigned to assess the situation in Vietnam and make recommendations. He wrote back to Paris something along the lines of, 'To accomplish this mission I will need 400,000 men, and if you give me everything I want, I still won't be able to do it.'

I think that the problem statement in this piece is good and solid. I think the prediction part is somewhat optimistic, in that it assumes that the American people will, as one, suddenly do all of these things that they have been fully at liberty to do up until now, and have not done.

I find such optimism to be a trick that, 400,000 more men or not, I just cannot pull off.

hwanganloa@hotmail.com

Very good Walrus. It must be added that the Congress is equally culpable.

Where is the congressperson announcing to the Great Decider ("GD") that he/she would drop a bill of impeachment in the hopper were the GD to strike Iran on a pretext?

wisedup

you have accurately detailed the pressures facing Bush and co. It is interesting that the strongest voices are those outside the Congress.
Would you be willing to give Bush a pardon for this little adventure in the same light as Nixon's?
Are we to be seen as "wanting blood" or justice?

arbogast

The timeframe:

Now it should be born in mind that the Saudi Strategic Energy Initiative is to have enough spare capacity to be able, by June of this year, to replace Iran’s production, should there be a problem.

from:

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2138#more

still working it out

"In other words, for Bush and his friends"
"For the NeoCons"
"the entire NeoCon world gets swept away, as do the Likudniks."

I am not sure you can limit the sweeping away to just the NeoCons and Bush. Much of the Democratic party is as friendly with the Likudniks as the NeoCons. If the system falls apart the current leadership of the Democratic party may be bigger victims of it than most Republicans.

EZSmitkzz

Given the shift announced at the State Department I would anticipate a massive blood letting in Iraq, prior to Mr. Bush losing his Army.

David E. Solomon

Colonel Lang,

I don't know who Walrus is, but I would say that is one comprehensive post.

Would you be willing to comment on how much of it you agree with.

I personally think he or she is pretty much on the money.

Regards,

David

PT

Glad to see Ms Tuchman was as astute in her observations as you are in your correlation. WWI was a war that should have easily been avoided just like this one and Vietnam for that matter. Everybody is busy with their own agenda and, contrary to Adam Smith, it is no longer functioning to bring about a better condition for anyone.

W. Patrick Lang

DSD

I have changed the post to indicate that I agree with a lot of it, especially the numbered points. pl

Mt

Great piece by Walrus. Barbara Tuchman one of the great chroniclers of the 20th Century.

Col - What's your take on the aftermath of our "surge" to Baghdad?

David E. Solomon

Colonel Lang,

I always find your blog to be cogent and a "must read".

I am sure that our politics differ, but your insightful analysis is always a pleasure to read.

I often recommend your site to my equal liberally leaning friends.

I am not sure how many of them read it, but I think they all should.

Reading only the articles with which you totally agree becomes tiresome and counter-productive.

Regards,

David

confusedponderer

A little declinist, are we? Sadly, it makes sense to me.

I think Walrus made the most salient point under #2.

The US, after the end of the cold war, eagerly persuaded themselves and the world they beat Russia (I think Russia merely went bankrupt first) their position of primacy was in fact eroding. They saw the Europans start talking about a multilateral world, a multipolar world. How dare they! These ingrates! For illustration only re-read the rabid neo con ravings about a EU command, let alone the perpetually evil French.

This understanding that times are changing was IMO the reason why NATO went to war against Serbia, (a) to roll back that last bastion of communism in Central Europe and (b) to give NATO a new role while (c) promoting investment in the military-industrial complex NATO-wide and (d) justifying US leadership in the organization. As far as troop number are concerned the US are outnumbered by their NATO partners. The only reason that gives the US leadership are their technological capabilities, which were then demonstrated.

The other field where the US are vastly superior is the US nuclear arsenal, to the extent it is still an umbrella over NATO territory. It is not by accident that the neo-cons have there also pushed for new roles, just think of Rumsfeld's brilliant 'NuBBAToRS' initiative (Nuclear bunker busters against Terrorists & Rogue States). But in the real world, nukes are of very limited utility.

The GWOT offers an opportunity from their point of view: The new face of conflict requires, second after bold and morally clear US leadership (as opposed to timid and cynical French/European lack thereof), new weapons systems and a 'rallying' (read: subordination; I don't think one can read the meaning of 'global dominance' or 'global benevolent hegemony' in another way) of the West around the US.

Israel finds itself in a similar situation where it's influence is eroding. Despite having never been beaten on the battlefield (if you discount the Lebanon adventures - which were Israeli wars of choice), Israel is in a strategic situation that forces it to accommodate it's neighbours to be bearable in long term. And that while actually, the enemies are disappearing. Egypt, Jordan and Syria aver going to war with Israel? Tough chance. The enemies learned their lesson. Today Syria has a greater chance than ever to get back the Golan heights at a time when it is ever more unlikely they will even have to go to war for it. Rather, and darkly ironic, despite having won them and held them and deapite being in a position of nominal military dominance, it is increasingly likely for Israel to go to war to keep them.
And in the meanwhile these insufferable Palestinians still don't give up and keep fighting dirty despite, or because of, all their misery and breed and multiply and will soon outnumber the Israelis in Greater Israel.

It must be plain maddening for a hard core Likudnik that the Palestinians just breed them out. It must drive a neo-con to frenzy that the Europeans today simply say: "Thank you for US protection over the last half century, but let's talk trade policy please!" Where is *their* 'victory dividend'? That sentiment is even understandable. But what does it help?

They got used to a role of supremacy, they think they deserve it, and now they desperately miss it and want it back. The Cold War was their Golden Age.

What they both don't get is that leadership to work requires mutual acceptance. Every small unit leader understands that. If that basis falls away, it gets a whole lot more difficult, and you got to make compromises, or rely on force. When you got to make more compromises than you think your strength requires you to, you'll resort to use that force to enforce what you think is yours.

The result are coalitions of the bribed and arm twisted, because when you're so hard core you're unlikely to find anyone honestly willing to help you. And in all honesty, why should they when the neo-cons only press for maximal US advantage, my-way-or-the-highway? After all, alliances are about mutual advantage. As allies do think and have an understanding of their interest, that suggests that bogey mongering is no surrogate for a real enemy.

It might suffice for the US domestic audience but not for the rest of the world. It's one thing to claim Russians are three metres tall when they're in fact only two metre's tall. People who're far away may believe that. But they're still two metres tall. But to claim that Bin Laden clutches his jewelled fingers in a cave in Afghanistan plotting the demise of the Western World as know it (wonderful picture) is plain preposterous. To use a Lord of the Rings analogy, it's like claiming that Gollum is Sauron, and as such a bloody joke in plain sight.

The GWOT is a huge conflation. The GWOT is an attempt to artificially construct a vessel for US leadership analogous to the Cold War. It's really striking how much the neo cons are caught in their Cold War template. Islamo Facism is what World Communism used to be. Somalia is their proxy war against the islamo facist hordes, much like Angola and countless other Cold War skirmishes were proxy wars against Russia.

The agressive policies of both Likud and the neo-cons are ultimately the expression of their refusal to accept an inconvenient reality, coupled with a stubborn persistence to fight it out, despite the odds being against them, and to press their military advantage as long as they still hold it. That is classic militarist thinking, illustrated by Madeleine Albright: 'What use is that splendid army of your's, if we ain't gonna use it?'

In the fights they picked, they can only lose. The war on Iraq and in Lebanon meant to 'smash a country at the wall' in the phrasing of Michael Ledeen, to restore credibility and especially deterrence. They want to prove themselves on the battle field. For that to work you need an inferior opponent. Like Iraq, or Lebanon, or Iran.
The US failure to either curb the violent resistance and curb the emerging civil war in Iraq, and the Israeli defeat at the hands of Hezbollah underline the limits of this coercive policy. But that can't be, and for that both Likud and the neo-con have only one solution: Escalation. One can counter: 'When in a hole, stop digging', but that would mean admitting to have been wrong, and it would mit admitting failure, both 'can't be-s'.

That's what all this babble about 'asymmetry' is about. It is the changing face of the world, and the frustration unable to do anything about it despite all your nukes. The enemy has after 60 years of trying, found a formula how to deal with western warfare. The longer the war goes, the better they'll get. That is a very good reason to keep wars short, and avoid them if not absolutely necessary. The US and Israel will both lose badly, further undermining any claims of leadership by the US or demands for support Israel. Yet the consequences for Israel will be much graver than for the US.

Walrus is right when he sais: "For the Neo Cons, there is no other choice available to them, that is the tragedy."

I fear the confrontation with Iran will run on its own steam to war - any compromise is appeasement, and Iranian surrender is improbable - war is the only option that has the potential, if, and only if, it succeeds, to realize the neo-con maximalist expectations. Israel's approach to their Palestinian problem is quite similar. Which is unlikely.
They created their self-fulfilling prophecy, and while they pour gasoline on the bonfire they speak aloud: 'Don't you see we're men of peace, evildoers? Isn't that we haven't bombed you yet a sign of our goodwill? You leave us no other choice!' (well, except, maybe, of not pouring gasoline on the bonfire) And they believe every single word they say. Unlike Fukuyama they can't jump off that train of theirs. But then, Fukuyama is and has always been one of the brightest of the lot. I think Walrus is right to draw the analogy to the beginning of WW-I.

"So muß denn das Schwert entscheiden. Mitten im Frieden überfällt uns der Feind. Darum auf zu den Waffen! Jedes Schwanken, jedes Zögern wäre Verrat am Vaterlande."

'So the sword has to decide! In midst of peace, the enemy is upon us. To arms! Any waffling, any hesitation is treason on the fatherland!'

Expect that being part of the coming 'sacrifice speech'. America has a wagnerian valkyrie ride ahead.

chimneyswift

I also find some of walrus' speculations regarding the good that would come of failure of the current cabal to be overly optimistic.

No one any where near the halls of power in the US, for instance, is really all that interested in limiting the mil-indust complex, no matter what happens in Iraq.

Regardless, I strongly agree with the over all point. Where we're at doesn't look good.

The interesting thing to me is that even now, after a crushing electoral defeat and an obvious catastrophe in Iraq, there are almost no loud voices in the national debate calling for a significant re-evaluation of our current policy. One could argue that we cannot bother with that when we're trying to stop the fools from making things worse with the "surge" proposal, but our gracious host here has been one of the only prominent voices speaking out in this regard! If you ask me, the entire American elite have lost a sense of self correction and/or flexibility. It always seems to be someone else's problem.

John Howley

As for the 1-6 points which summarize likely consequences of "defeat" in Iraq, something quite similar happened following our strategic failure in Vietnam. CIA raked over the coals, hearings on "Transnational Corporations," Big Oil was nearly dismembered, and so on.

The international financial dislocations which can be traced in major part to the expense of the Vietnam war included the end of Bretton Woods and double-digit inflation.

And don't forget the Middle East. In 1970, the oil fields were all securely in the hands of the oil majors under exclusive concessions. By the end of the decade, it had all been nationalized. Biggest loss of property by the U.S. elite since the abolition of slavery (in relative terms). Crippled by Vietnam, there weren't a darn thing the U.S. could do about it.

Rumsfeld and Cheney and Kissinger were there. They watched it all happen.

Are they about to watch it all happen again?

It took centuries for a succession of European powers to figure out that Europe could not be dominated militarily. Even the Romans couldn't do it.

How long will it take for Americans to figure ouot that the world cannot be controlled with military power?

Happy New Year, Col. Lang, and thanks once more for keeping this small island of sanity going.

lina

The Negroponte thing is a kremlinology head scratcher. Just moving over to State is not going to absolve him of any blame for anything. And if he wants to divorce himself from the Bush cabal, why not go completely? Why this half measure?

IH

Have to re-read Tuchman.

I don't agree with arbogast, no suprise...

Matti Kinnunen

What will happen to the neocons and their friends, when they attack Iran and cause global recession/depression? How will their industries do in such a situtation? It seems that attacking Iran is not wise, if one cares for the global economy.

Then again, neocons may not consider themselves as part of the global economy. They are ETs.

J

Colonel,

the neocons are afraid of freedom of the public, as it puts in jepoarday their little fiefdom. so they institute 'restraints' on the public at large:
spying internally against those who would disagree with their neo-insanity.

take a look at the latest in addition to their listening to the public's phone conversation -- steaming the public's mail:

New York Daily News - Home - W pushes envelope on U.S. spying
http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/485561p-408789c.html

the new congress has some work for them ahead. it's called -- repeal, repeal, repeal.

church commission part deux?

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