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18 March 2007

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confusedponderer

Interesting interview.

I recently read an old piece by Michael Gordon and Judith Miller from September 8, 2002 about 'Saddam's WMD program', namely the aluminum tubes:

http://www.realdemocracy.com/abomb.htm

And on February 10, 2007 Gordon wrote a front-page article: "Deadliest Bomb in Iraq is Made by Iran, U.S. Says."

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/10/world/middleeast/10weapons.html?ei=5090&en=a969c2a825f5e668&ex=1328763600&pagewanted=print

On target (*sarcasm*) I am very sceptical about that guy. If he's benign, he's either gullible or a true believer.
There are rumours however, that Michael Gordon is not an actual person but a voice activated device, devoted to record statements by anonymous administration offcials. Could you please shed some light on that, Colonel?

W. Patrick Lang

Norbert

I have known Mike a long time. It seems to me that he is a "work in progress," torn between a desire to be optimistic and the evidence of his eyes. pl

confusedponderer

Col,
in fairness, I must admit that I imagine it hard for a journalist to resist writing about such 'scoops'. These 'anonomyous administration officials' certainly know how to play the press.

When I read the US press I sometimes wonder where patriotism ends and poor journalism or outright propaganda begins. When I think of folks like Judith Miller, I have a hard time to believe that she did not know what was going on.

Maybe it's like everywhere else, that people believe what they want to believe. In light of the climate of patriotic fervor and outrage after 911, the willingness to give the administration a substantial benefit of a doubt becomes comprehensible.

Maybe journalists ought to heed the lessons of political antropology and generally approach politicians and officials on the basis of, something newly learned, EMIC - ETIC ;)

Chuck

"JOULWAN: . . . I think, in my view, the surge event is a tactic, not a strategy. A strategy is much broader-based, much more political in nature. And I think we have to understand what is that longer- range strategy that we are talking about?"

General Joulwan here puts his finger on one of the two fatal flaws of the Iraq venture/fiasco. From the get-go the administration has not been up front with the American people as to what the core strategic objectives were at the outset. This is not a first in American history, by the way. (If they'd been frank, it would nearly have been a first.) But given modern communications and a much more highly educated public than in the past, the days have passed when an administration can get away with scamming the people. My guess is that we won't know the true strategic objectives unless and until the proceedings of Cheney's 2001 Energy Task Force are made public. These will show, I suspect, that the plan was to install a puppet Chalabi government that would award long-term contracts to US-based oil companies at concessionary terms. For public consumption the administration came up with the WMD justification. (The fact that when that blew up in their faces they quickly segued into a series of strategic justifications of the month was a tell-tale sign.) Again, given the likes of al Jazeera and the internet, this arrangement would have stuck in the craw of the Iraqi people sooner rather than later.

This leads in to the second fatal flaw, the utterly fantastic wishful thinking that went into the "planning" for the post-combat, occupation phase, starting with Chalabi himself. Don't get me started.

SubKommander Dred

Charlottesville, Virginia
18 March 2007

Dear Sir;


Mr Gordon came accross as a toady. This passage in particular was rather toad-like in tone:
"I think the administration has looked at Iran as a contingency because of Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons, really. But I think that the policy that I see forming is not really an offensive policy.

It's really an active containment policy, to contain Iranian power in the Persian Gulf region, basically to prevent Iran from intervening through its operatives in Iraq. So I see kind of an aggressive containment policy at this point in time, not offensive policy."

So, if I am reading Mr Gordon right, those two aircraft carrier groups (among other warships) now hanging out in the Gulf are just there for a few friendly port calls and take out ethnic food. It is simply not a credible argument to be making. Every time George W Bush gets a chance to blow the shit out of someone (or some country), he takes it. Why should we expect any different of Iran?

Mike Gordon would be better off in swamp, croaking interminably until chowed down by a passing gator, or a some redneck geek gigging frogs.

Your most humble servant,
Subkommander Dred

ked

it bears repeating, foolish people do foolish things.

walrus

And as an addendum to Dred and Ked, as has been pointed out elsewhere, rational people consistently underestimate the damage that a stupid person will cause, as well as the nature of the act that caused it, because the acts, being totally irrational, are always so preposterous and completely unexpected.

Bush WILL bomb Iran.

Clifford Kiracofe

Per announcing "a date": It seems to me such a move unnecessarily constrains not only our military flexibility but also our diplomatic flexibility. The technical date of a withdrawal is not the fundamental issue. The regional situation is the core issue, plus the operational security of our troops during any withdrawal (and reconstruction?) phase, plus considerations of our position in the region down the road.

As General Joulwan, and those in command authority, have emphasized there is a critical political and diplomatic dimension here. The situation is beyond our military's ability to resolve through military means.

For the United States to extract itself from this unnecessary quagmire (calculated Neocon trap?), effective diplomacy and ACTIVE engagement at the regional level as recommended in the ISG report is vital. This means dealing with Russia, China, Japan, and others with stakes in the region as well as with resistance movements such as Hamas and Hizbullah.

So far, it does not appear that Rice at State, Hadley at NSC, the VP, the Decider and the whole menagerie of vapid hollow men and women in the Administration are capable of the serious effective policy necessary at this juncture. So will we have to wait until 2009 and will that offer any improvement? Meanwhile, the blood and treasure meter is running.

Got A Watch

"Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the success of the mission, which was starting well, could not be measured for months and that it was designed to give the Iraqis more time to settle political and sectarian differences.
The issue that we're all trying to figure out is how best do you get the Iraqis to reconcile their differences — because after all, this is not going to be solved by the military. It has to involve political reconciliation in
Iraq, among Iraqis," Gates said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
"We're basically buying them time," he said."

From: "U.S. troop deaths show Sunni resilience"
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070318/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

Juan Coles take: "That is a worthy goal, but if it is the reason for the escalation in the number of US troops in Iraq, then that lays an especially heavy burden on the al-Maliki government to accelerate efforts at national reconciliation.
I don't see any particular evidence that it is doing so. Nor can I see any signs that the government is able to act at faster than a glacial pace....If it takes him months to so much as decide who his minister of health is, when is he going to be up to the challenge of finding a way to make peace with the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement (which he dismisses as Saddamists and 'excommunicators'"
http://www.juancole.com/

Seems there is still a "reality disconnect" here. The "time" being bought is to be used for what, exactly? The Bushies/AIPAC don't want to see Iran and/or Syria at any serious negotiation table in case they actually agree to something, making them (Bushies) look bad. The Sunnis and the Shiites in Iraq don't look likely to negotiate peace on their own, they are entrenched in their world-views. The Turks seem unlikely to negotiate with the Kurds.

One side will doubtless negotiate a peace, after they have been defeated by the other, or both have become exhausted after years of civil war - in which case the "surge" just postpones the inevitable struggle for dominance and eventual peace.

Not to mention the mission creep, this is what, the fourth or fifth time a "new" reason for US troops to remain in Iraq for the forseeable future has been announced.

I would have to argue that the presence of American troops and the "surge" are preventing the Iraqi's from reaching any long lasting stabliity, by simply trying to maintain the present unbalanced political and sectarian status quo in the short term.

Whatever the future may hold for Iraq, it seems clear America will have only a very minor long term role in determining the outcome- only the Iraqi's themselves can do that.

DeWitt Grey

"BLITZER: The administration argues, Pat, that if there was a date certain a year from now, let's say, for a complete withdrawal of combat forces, the enemy would simply wait it out, wait for that date and then take over."

How is it possible that in the course of a reasonably elevated discussion of the issues that one of our allegedly leading tele-journalists can refer to a "take over" by "the enemy"? The Pentagon and the White House, having sown the wind of trying micro-manage and manipulate information about the situation in Iraq, are now reaping the whirlwind of widespread public dissatisfaction and distrust. Downplaying the multilateral aspects of this conflict and even further downplaying its negative effects on Iraqi economic reconstruction, political reconciliation, and restoration of the Iraqi security forces, has made it exceedingly difficult to have a rational discussion about the few policy choices that remain.

I would most earnestly wish to be proven wrong, but I strongly suspect that the Army's after-action assessment of this sorry state of affairs will conclude that even more comprehensive effort needs to put into "information management", i.e. psychological warfare designed to shape public opinion, especially in the United States. If the Army starts to whine that it lost the support of spineless civilians living the good life at home, it might start by considering how it could possibly hope to maintain support from any quarter on the basis of misinformation and being "economical with the truth".

jamzo

michael gordon, judith miller and many (most?) mainstream journalists rely on "inside_ the_lesdership_clique" sources to provide them with information they need for page space and broadcast space

because of their dependence on their sources it can be said that they operate as "agents" for their sources

they present themselves with expert knowledge

this is what my source is saying, this is how my source is thinking

the suppress their own views, their own analysis

first because their own opinions are less important in the scheme of things than their source's information

second they can't risk alientating their source for fear of cutting off their opportunities

remember how cheney was quoted speaking of tim russert during the libby trial

seymour hersch is in a different league - he has a different kind of job and a different relationship with sources

Chris Marlowe

American wars are lost and won not on the battlefield, but in the living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens of American homes. Americans like swift victories, unless there is a clear good cause, as in WWII. As far as the American people are concerned, this war has already been lost.

The war which is really being fought now is "Who gets the blame for losing the war?" The Bush/Cheney/Rove stand is to blame the Democrats for undercutting the troops, while the Democrats, in typical fashion, have a hard time agreeing on what to do.

If you look at it this way, the only thing the Republicans and Democrats are REALLY fighting over are withdrawal dates. In other words, Americans are fighting and dying over DATES ON A CALENDAR and the FACE OF BUSH/CHENEY and the Republican Party which was bamboozled into backing this war (by DeLay/Rove and their corrupt lackeys) and this failed neoconservative dream, which has not only destroyed Iraq, but will most likely be interpreted by historians as the first and second acts of the end of the Pax Americana. (My guess is that the final nail in the coffin will come in some socio-economic form. When that happens, Americans will no longer be able to say that "We are the greatest nation in the world.")

This reminds me of a meeting which took place between an American and Vietnamese officer after the war. The American said "We never lost to you on the battlefield." The Vietnamese replied "That's irrelevant."

The Vietnamese officer had it right.

Gilbert Foster

Col Lang I have long thouht that you were the most rational, sane and by far the most informed of the so called 'experts" that the cable news flacks trot out to give thier opions on the disaster the Mr Bush has gotten us in to. I am always glad no relieved when I see you make one of your all too rare appearances I remember watching cnn one morning before Bush started his war you were making a good case for caution and were rudely cut off by Bill Hemmer I wanted to reach into the screen and slap that blow dried ignoramus I visit your website daily to hear your words of wisdom I wish you would post when your appearnces will bo so I can view them in real time thank you for your wisdom and realistic world view Gil Foster

Sandy

While everybody devotes all their time to thinking and talking about funding and getting out of Iraq...or staying in indefinitely....and whichever is the latest new scandal today -- whether it be the firing of the U.S. Attorneys....or Walter Reed mismanagement....or Anna Nicole...or 2008 candidates....

meanwhile.....

just as Walrus says.......meanwhile....

Bush and Cheney and Company are counting the days until

THEY BOMB IRAN.

We really shouldn't -- at this point...before it happens -- be talking about anything else.

When they get away with bombing IRAN....everything changes. Permanently.

You think they're ruining the country now?

Small potatoes.

JM

I've now read several times the "Late Edition" exchange that Col. Lang has posted, as well as the comments so far, and I keep coming back in my mind to something that has been troubling me for some time:

There are people within or advising or close to the OVP who have emphatically supported, either through their writings or public lectures, the notion that our objective in the Middle East should be to "create chaos," in the sense of ensuring that the Middle East is nothing more than a bunch of small, powerless, constantly squabbling nation-lets who won't pose any threats either to us or our main regional ally.

I'm talking about the folks of the Wurmser-Pipes-Gaffney persuasion.

So it might seem that any notion of "stability" of the sort that Gen. Joulwan talks about is precisely the opposite of what some high level neocons actually want to happen.

There are many on this thread who are convinced that Iran is next. If that "creative chaos" viewpoint still holds some sway, they might be right.

(And then I read through my own comments on "preview" and could swear that they were written by some wacky conspiracy theorist.)

ked

DeWitt, That future AAR (no doubt classified) will conclude that the problem with The Big Lie is not the Lieing part, but the Bigness - need more Bigness... and Sexiness... and Fear... and Production Values... Yeah, that's the ticket - no charge (Profit component was just fine, thanks).

Stan Henning

Regardless of what transpires in the wake of the plus up of forces in Iraq, the whole affair was, is, and ever will be a blunder of massive proportions reflecting gross incompetence among both our civil and military leadership.

It has laid bare the meaninglessness of depending on "high-tech" warfare to cope with human factors, which are at the core of all conflict beyond initial clashes by "conventional" forces. We completely defeated the Germans and Japanese in WWII and took complete charge of their "rehabilitation". However, their populations were not fractious, so we were successful in these two cases. Except for initially mauling her "conventional" forces, we never really defeated the Iraqi military (we just caused them to scatter and retaliate as we continue to experience). We also did not take complete control of their "rehabilitation" and their population is abysmally fractious, so we have reaped what we have sown. We have met the enemy and they are us.

Stan Henning

Regardless of what transpires in the wake of the plus up of forces in Iraq, the whole affair was, is, and ever will be a blunder of massive proportions reflecting gross incompetence among both our civil and military leadership.

It has laid bare the meaninglessness of depending on "high-tech" warfare to cope with human factors, which are at the core of all conflict beyond initial clashes by "conventional" forces. We completely defeated the Germans and Japanese in WWII and took complete charge of their "rehabilitation". However, their populations were not fractious, so we were successful in these two cases. Except for initially mauling her "conventional" forces, we never really defeated the Iraqi military (we just caused them to scatter and retaliate as we continue to experience). We also did not take complete control of their "rehabilitation" and their population is abysmally fractious, so we have reaped what we have sown. We have met the enemy and they are us.

sybelia

Sunday, March 18, 2007

This Administration should never again be able to get away with accusing ANYONE of "not supporting the troops"

The situation at Walter Reed is even worse than what we've known up to this point:

Washington, DC (WUSA) -- A major 9NEWS NOW EXCLUSIVE -- allegations from a former inspector at Walter Reed of widespread and dangerous problems in nearly all the buildings at the Army's premier hospital.

Burst steam pipes near electrical cables, rats, mold, and holes in floors and walls -- all of that extends far beyond the well-publicized problems at the notorious Building 18.

And 9NEWS NOW has learned managers may have been slow to respond. A worried quality control inspector, Mark Cordell, finally quit last week in frustration, and brought his fears to 9NEWS NOW.

"I won't sit back and watch someone get killed," he says while running through 81 pictures of the problems on a laptop computer.....If you needed further proof that to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the entire neocon cabal that got us into this mess in Iraq, these young men and women are nothing but cannon fodder -- meat puppets to be deposited into a war zone and then forgotten -- here it is.

They give lip service to supporting the troops, but then outsource the maintenance of the facility to -- wait for it -- a subsidiary of Halliburton. It's all about the money to this bunch -- money stuffed into Cheney's pockets, money stuffed into the pocket of the other Bush cronies who have been feeding at the federal trough ever since this bunch of criminals took office in 2001..

http://brilliantatbreakfast.blogspot.com/2007/03/this-administration-should-never-again.html..

BadTux

Who is "the enemy" in Iraq? And what qualifies as "victory" in Iraq? Given the dozens of factions, "the enemy" changes by the hour. And "victory"? What is "victory"? A free and democratic pro-American Iraq? Might as well wish for a pony for every boy and girl on their birthday. Simply physically not possible. Any true democracy in the Middle East is inherently anti-Israel and thus anti-American as long as America's knee-jerk support of Israel continues. So what is "victory", then?

Closest I can see if the goal is a *stable* Iraq is "Saddam Lite in power". Is it really worth more American blood and money to make that happen, when in the end it will happen anyhow, with or without American involvement? Is it merely the desire to put a pro-American Saddam Lite in power rather than allow an anti-American Saddam Lite to spontaneously arise that keeps American troops in Iraq?

-BT

Peter Eggenberger

A friend of mine comes from an aristocratic and very distinguished Iraqi family. I get the impression from him that the civil society of the Middle East is like 18th century Europe: peasants and gentry. He says that if the U.S. left, Iraq would stabilize quicky. The gentry would arrange compromises, agree to revenge killings or suitable compensation, etc. And the neighbors would act according to custom, seeking peace and stability. I suppose he must be wrong, because his view implies that the U.S. is at bottom an irrelevant and destructive interloper.

4 billion

I once saw an interview of an Australian football supporter, who's team was doing badly, he said he viewed a loss by less than 10 goals to be a victory...Iraq will be seen as this, as we lost, but at least we didn't lose 60 thousand like last time.

FB Ali

Underlying the discussion on Blitzer's show is the assumption that it is the US which decides how long it will maintain troops in Iraq, and pursue this strategy or that tactic. This assumption also underlies most of the debate in the US on Iraq.

Get real, fellas! Those days are long gone. You are still in Iraq because the Kurds and, critically, the Shia still want you there, fighting Sunnis. The day the Shia decide they are better off without US troops there, your forces will only be able to remain in Kurdistan, and in air-supplied, heavily-fortified bases in other parts of Iraq. Sure, you'll be able to bomb the hell out of anything and anyone, but what would that achieve?

Time to wake up and smell the coffee!

W. Patrick Lang

FB Ali

On programs like that one is somewhat "trapped" by the questions.

I completely agree with you.

1 - Unfortunately it is unlikely that the Kurds will want us to leave. as a result we will be "stuck" up there for a long time.

2 - The Shia thing is a ticking time bomb that can blow up in our face any time. pl

Babak Makkinejad

All:

Today (20-th of March) is the New Year according to the Persian Solar Calendar; No-Ruz (New Day in Persian) is being celebrated from Syria all the way to the Chinese border.
The festivities will be on-going for the next few days; in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey ( by the Kurds), in Iran, Azerbaijan Republic, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and parts of Pakistan.
This is the biggest holiday of the year – and the year is 1386.

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