« The Advisor - 10 March 2007 | Main | Democrats? Republicans? Same -Same »

11 March 2007

Comments

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

W. Patrick Lang

You folks don't get it. I am trying to talk to you about reality, not my sense of honor, or hope for humanity, or civic duty. You need to "sober up" and consider what are the real possibilities.

Am I "nuts?" Of course. Would I be bothering with you otherwise? pl

walrus

With the greatest respect to all especialy you, Col. Lang, I think you are all only just beginning to understand the scale of the coming disaster.

Its going to be a disaster in political, military and economic terms and its coming sooner than you think. We are going to attack Iran - and very very soon.

The Democrats can't stop it because they are "owned" lock stock and barrel by the Israel lobby thanks to a campaign funding system that allows the rich to dominate the American political process.

Let me give you what I know:

1. We have a full blown "demonisation" campaign running at the moment characterising Iran (and Syria) as the source of all the evils of the Middle East and then some. The latest installment will come with the unveiling of Iranian defectors who will sing a variety of prepared songs. Numerous sources.

2. From the Captain of a visiting foriegn warship three weeks ago: "Every American ship that can float is heading for the Persian Gulf." (Translation, even allowing for hyperbole, its not just the Stennis battlegroup)

3. We have two battlegroups in the Gulf.

4. Debka (not the most reliable source I know) is reporting American aircraft staging from the States through Europe on their way to bases in Bahrain and elsewhere. Confirmation of "unusual activity" at English bases came from an unrelated aviation website although the thread was deleted sometime later.

5. Debka also reported that Iran is conducting air defence exercises this week - confirmed by RIA Novosti.

6. Russia is delaying the supply of nuclear fuel to the Iranian Bushehr reactor citing "payment difficulties" on the Iranian side. The fueling of the rector was due to begin this month. I interpret this to mean that they don't wish to receive nuclear fallout when the reactor is bombed, if its fuelled and operating.

7. Then we have the "surge'

8. It now appears that Olmaert is going to make concessions to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. I interpret this as an effort to detach them from the fight that is coming.

9. And finally, on & March the Israeli State Department issued a travel advisory:

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Governmen...+7-Mar-2007.htm

The key words in it were instructions to Israelis to "Leave immediately" a whole swag of Arab countries (probably a Duh! instruction) but what caught my eye was advice for Israelis to "avoid visiting and leave as soon as possible" Indonesia and Malaysia. Folks, I know those countries, and no one would harm the hair of an Israeli head there at the moment.

So folks, I hope I am wrong and look the silliest guy on the block, but I conclude that the balloon is going to go up and we will bomb Iran starting on the moonless nights later this week.

The consequences of this activity are mind numbing. I will not share my darker thoughts about where this may lead.

FDR_Democrat

Colonel Lang -

When you say "the military still believes it still has a good shot at 'prevailing' in Iraq, what does the military define as 'prevailing?'

Frank Durkee

As a long term Democrat i have been raising the Col.'s basic issue with party officials and others for the last two years. it is not just the military members but the Republicans utilization of the Democratic efforts to end the war on less than favoraboe terms to the US. My efforts have been to no avail. it is a consideration to be looked at seriously.

psd

"Am I 'nuts?' Of course. Would I be bothering with you otherwise?"

well, it's nice to know we're not in this alone..takes one to know one! Besides, reality is hard and the absurdity of it hurts the brain.

besides, if you were sane, you'd throw us all over and finish v. 2, wouldn't you? not that i'm pestering/nudging/nagging you or anything like that....right, Col.?

dm

So when does the war end?

When the military prevails?
When the military constituency gives up? (and how will we know this?)
When Bush is replaced by a Democrat?

Richard Armstrong

COL Lang,

I think some of us do get it.

The reality of the situtation is that the Democrats will be blamed for defeat unless they fully fund the war throughout the remainder of the Bush administration.

The next administration will then have the option of choosing to attempt to find a political and diplomatic solutions to the chaos that is Iraq or simply withdrawing.

Regardless of the path chosen by a Democratic administration, the inevitable defeat in Iraq will he hung around the neck of the Democratic Party for the next fifty years.

lina

Gen. Tony McPeak (retired)
Member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the ('91)Gulf War:

"This is a dark chapter in our history. Whatever else happens, our country's international standing has been frittered away by people who don't have the foggiest understanding of how the hell the world works. America has been conducting an experiment for the past six years, trying to validate the proposition that it really doesn't make any difference who you elect president. Now we know the result of that experiment [laughs]. If a guy is stupid, it makes a big difference."

[from Rolling Stone magazine article entitled "Beyond Quagmire: A panel of experts convened by Rolling Stone agree that the war in Iraq is lost. The only question now is: How bad will the coming explosion be?]

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/13710030/leaving_iraq_the_grim_truth/print

Chris Marlowe

The last time the American people had a chance to do something about Iraq policy was in 2004 during the presidential elections, not in 2006 during the congressional elections.

The presidential candidate who took a principled intelligent stand for an Iraqi withdrawal was Howard Dean, but the corporate media positioned him as being too far left, even though he was in fact a centrist. In 2004, the Democrats chose John Kerry, who was Karl Rove's dream opposition candidate.

As long as Bush and Cheney are in the executive, they will continue to fight to keep a presence in Iraq. It doesn't matter if 99.99% of the American people, Barney and Laura are against the war, that is the reality.

Dave of Maryland

legislation which seeks to direct and limit the president and commander in chief of the armed forces as to how he should employ US forces. To attempt to do that, is, I think, of dubious constitutionality.

By comparison to all the dubious & downright stupid things presidents have done over the years, why shouldn't Congress join in on the fun? We are talking of the murder of innocents, which is more than enough justification for extraordinary means. To paraphrase the famous Canard, what good is a three-branch government if they can't fight each other like dogs?

Joe Northrop

The Republicans' fondest wish is that Congress restrict the President's ability to run the war through the "power of the purse." Should the Democrats be dumb enough to put their arms around this tar baby, they deserve whatever sticks to 'em. They will forever be the Party who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

SubKommander Dred

Charlottesville, Virginia
11 March 2007

Dear Sir;
When I look at the absolute clusterfuck that has befallen Iraq, I fear a great many things. One of them is the destruction of our ground forces. As you only too well know, the USA and USMC are being pushed past the limit. Indeed, a colleague’s son who is a marine in Ramadi has been extended in his current tour, his 2nd in combat. I would pose that leaving Iraq as quickly as possible may very well be in our national interest, that is, if we want to have any kind of military left when this thing is over. As you well know, history is replete with armies being wiped out. A military machine such as ours requires huge sums of fuel, ammunition, food, material supplied on a daily basis by truck convoy from Kuwait. Just what, exactly, would keep our guys from getting cut off from resupply? A massive and coordinated uprising in the south? I don’t know if the enemy could pull it off, but they could still hurt us, badly. As if they weren’t already doing so. Now, I never wanted this war, thought it was a bad idea, and told whoever would listen the same thing, leading to many heated arguments with friends and family. The fact that pretty much everything I said would happen (actually, it turned out much worse) has happened and they are now left feeling like complete suckers doesn’t make me feel any better. Any fool or cretin with a minimum of functioning grey matter occupying their skull would have come to the conclusion that a war with Iraq was probably not a good idea, particularly if GW Bush and the Neoconfederacy of Dunces had to make up a lot of stuff so we could get all righteous and saintly about bringing democracy and freedom to the oppressed citizens of Iraq. Or links toAl queda. Or possessing weapons of mass destruction. Whatever sounded good at the time. No facts, no evidence, no problem. Just get Douglas Fieth to make it up. He’s plenty stupid anyway and wouldn’t know weapons of mass destruction from a handjob. The brass lie, and our soldiers (along with a lot of other folks) die. If what you say is true and the Democrats can’t afford to be seen as the party that ‘lost Iraq,’ this whole thing is going to end very badly. In other words, are we going to have to get our ass kicked (images of American contractors fighting each other for the last helicopter out of the green zone come to mind) before we call it quits there and go home? I really, really hope it does not come to that.
So now we got us lied into war with Iraq, as well as the continuing clusterfuck in Afghanistan, and maybe some kind of total and complete clusterfuck with Iran, and perhaps, you can understand, just how disappointed I am with the current regime, running things in our name as citizens of an (allegedly) democratic republic. As to your mental status, I would say you are no more nuts than any of us. However, to pose a question, just how can any one expect to stay sane under the reign of George W Bush?

Your most humble servant,
Subkommander Dred

VietnamVet

Colonel,
What is and isn’t real?

The USA is fighting two wars of occupation. Wars that were lost as soon as a viable resistance formed; neo-colonial wars of attrition. Wars that can only be won with millions of boots on the ground and a political strategy that bribes secular and moderate Muslims to support American control of the Middle East oil fields. Without the troops and bribes, all the USA is doing is creating enemies who will seek retribution for generations to come. The only alternative is to withdraw and try to contain the damage.

I don’t know today’s Army. They are either in Iraq or Afghanistan or going there. The toll has to be tremendous. I do know from Vietnam the guilt and grief of knowing those who died and were maimed for nothing. It is hard to face the truth. Today’s soldiers will have to face it or they will spin off into denial and delusions.

Yohan

Here's a real possibility: if Bush maintains a military presence in Iraq knowing full well that he doesn't have the funding to sustain it, then whatever military disaster might happen because of that would be entirely on HIS head, as commander in chief. A defunding resolution will obviously allot enough money for the troops to evacuate themselves safely. This "defunding the war will hurt the troops" schlock is nothing more than a political smoke screen by Bush another of his lame attempts to prop up his vanity through human sacrifice.

This has been Bush's war from start to finish and the short term and long term postmortems will clearly pin the blame of losing Iraq on Bush's shoulders. The polls already indicate this, people are sick of this war, they think it was a mistake, and they overwhelmingly condemn Bush's conduct of the war. The only political consequences that the Dems need fear is that they, even now, are too timid to take meaningful action. Why should anyone vote for the Dems when they can't get anything done at all, even with the force of popular opinion behind them?

And if we're talking constitution, we should remember that Congress's power of the purse was *absolutely* intended to be a check on the president's ability to fight wars. Washington himself warned against the dangers of standing armies, and when the constitution was drafted the army was so tiny that the money needed to raise a real army to start a war was another check the Congress had, in addition to the sole power to declare wars. The idea that the president is the beginning and end of war fighting authority is a distinctly modern notion, gradually expanded during the imperial presidencies since T.R. The framers of the constitution did not intend to crown kings.

And why should we listen to the military on policy questions? Col. Lang has correctly stated in the past that the generals are not there to make policy, only to figure out a way to carry out the policies that are given them. Why should we expect a general to contradict Bush, especially with kool-aid sloshing throughout the Pentagon. Further more, they are completely allergic to admitting defeat, no matter how clearly hopeless the situation is. The hand-picked top generals will declare this war unwinnable sometime between when Bush says so and when hell freezes over. That doesn't mean that the war wasn't lost years before.

Also, I know that there is a LOT of private grumbling about this war that will never be voiced publicly because the military does not feel that that is their place. All the less reason to use official military opinions to determine when to quit.

Ultimately, the military has shown over and over again that it clearly has no idea what it's doing in Iraq, so to take them seriously when they say they can still "win" is by no means courting reality.

walrus

No Col. Lane, Sadly what you say is not rocket science.

I'm afraid though that one of the "real possibilies" is that things are going to get much much worse before the Democrats can intervene without any political cost.

.....And I think that they are about to do so for the reasons I enumerated.

God help us all.

Will

Lesson from the past. the difference between Vietnam and Irak is we have the experience of the Vietnam quagmire to draw from and plenty of good Generals giving us advice about Dumbya's "strategic blunder."

<http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=background.view&backgroundid=0078" rel="nofollow">Gen. William Odom March 2006 Iraq through the prism of Vietnam

" The wind-down in Vietnam actually started in Johnson’s last year in office, but Richard Nixon implemented it (taking his time doing so). Rather than a rapid pullout, he pursued two tactics. The first was turning the war over to South Vietnam’s military so that U.S. forces could withdraw. By 1972 most of them were gone. Second, negotiations in Paris through Soviet intermediaries with the North Vietnamese began. Both were based on transparently false assumptions.

The key problem in South Vietnam had always been achieving a political consolidation among anti-Viet Cong elites. It was not building effective military and police forces. In fact, as South Vietnamese military units became more effective, their commanders competed aggressively for political power, insuring a weak dictatorial regime in Saigon.

The assumptions about the Paris peace talks were no less illusory. Their designer, Henry Kissinger, believed that Moscow would “help” the United States reach a settlement short of total capitulation. In fact, by the late 1960s, the war was not only serving Soviet purposes against China, but also weakening NATO, hurting the U.S. currency in the international exchange rates, and making the charge of “imperialism” believable to citizens in many countries allied to the United States. Thus Soviet leaders had no objective reason to help the United States find a face-saving exodus. The deeper into “the big muddy” in Vietnam went the United States, the better for the Soviet Union... "

Ingolf

A useful step might be for Congress to quarantine the current war by passing a resolution requiring the administration to seek fresh congressional approval before launching any new military initiatives, such as an attack on Iran.

Such an escalation would, I fear, be profoundly dangerous since it -- and the reactions that followed -- could truly set America on an irreversible course, one where rights and wrongs and commonsense were all consigned to the "we don't have time for that now" basket.

Ruling it out could at least leave open the possibility for a managed disengagement from Iraq and some ultimately more constructive resolution.

avedis

"You folks don't get it. I am trying to talk to you about reality, not my sense of honor, or hope for humanity, or civic duty. You need to "sober up" and consider what are the real possibilities."

I think you are straight telling it like it is. Still, I think the dem.s need to buck up, do what has to be done and let the chips fall where they may.

That being said, their approach to date has been amateur and foolish (for the reasons you have outlined).

There must be a better way, a way to save face, an acceptable excuse. Perhaps a revitalized effort by the Taliban/A.Q. this spring might provide a very good reason to shift resources away from Iraq and to Afghanistan; a fight that is worth the effort and cost. Especially if there are new threats from Bin Laden and crew (where is the Democrats version of the Office of Special Plans - cooked intel and all?).

anon

Ick. I hate to think this way, but I agree with Col. Lang, on all points except the last.

I agree that "- a national debate over foreign policy to include..." is the first priority.

I was very much against this war from before the invasion and it makes me sick to contemplate it, but... the cold hard fact is that Bush and Cheney have the constitutional perogative re the only levers that can salvage a good chance of a not-awful outcome. And those levers do not concern troop levels or details of the surge/long term escalation strategy. Those levers concern comprehensive negotiations with on Middle East, including Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and all parties in Iraq. And a total rethink of their approach to the MidEast. No way Congress can change that.

Bush/Cheeny won't do it, and cannot be forced to do it.

So, best Democrats can do is press ahead and formulate a saner foreign policy vision that they can unite behind after Bush/Cheney are gone. In two years, the country will a choice have between that and three GOP "me too" militaristic Bushniks.

And the country needs to prominent voices to advocate for a saner US foreign policy, as opposed to the neocon madness.

I do questions Col Lang's assertion that the majority of US military think that the Bush approach has a chance of accomplishing anything. I have seen several respectable opinion polls of US troops saying that the majority do not think it will work. And certainly, most of the retired military brass who are speaking out, do not talk as though victory is possible with Bush/Cheney strategy or tactics.

So, until Col. Lang is more precise about who this group is, how big it is and what it thinks, and gives some emprical evidence about it, I remain skeptical about his last point.

The thought that this mess has to go on being run by incompetents (and perhaps criminals) sickens me, but they control the crucial levers of foreign policy that can help us for the next 21.5 months -that is how the country's foreign policy works.

I think the GOP is sunk for 2008, regardless of what the Democrats do. If the 'surge' plan is really a cover or excuse for another five or ten years of +160,000 troops, that will mean another cynical bad faith Bush Cheney lie the voters will have to swallow. And maybe there will be another military medicine scandal about cynically manipulating disability and wound recovery status to troops, so Bush/Cheney can make their long term escalation plan work by sending injured troops back to Iraq.

That kind of rancid bad faith is what Bush and Cheney will be leaving the GOP holding. The Democrats will have to really stretch to outdo that. So, if Democrats are afraid or do not have the vision to challange Bush/Cheney on the fundamentals issues involved, then the country will go into next election in a very disillusioned and bad mood with two bankrupt and discredited major parties. That's what I think.

zanzibar

The Democrats face exactly the dilemma that PL points out.

The activist element of the Democratic party put Iraq on the map as a campaign agenda during the last election. The Democratic party leadership were reluctant proponents of Iraq as a campaign lynchpin. Now this segment as well as a majority of the American public want out of Iraq, however they do not want the troops "defunded".

Those Democrats with a sense of history remember Vietnam and how the military became Republican in its aftermath.

So caught between a rock and a hard place what will they do? Muddle of course.

IMO, the best that they can do would be to provide full funding of training, equipment and medical care while at the same time making it clear there is no Congressional authorization for escalating the war into Iran. Then stepping on the gas into investigating and publicizing the decision making to war and the conduct of the war from war profiteering to conditions for troops to readiness of the military to treatment of detainees.

nsr

http://www.workingforchange.com/comic.cfm?itemid=22081

share

What victory? Would like someone to answer this question that has been asked so many times.

sybelia

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/3/11/18330/1257

........

The Army Is Ordering Injured Troops To Go To Iraq

Sun Mar 11, 2007

The outrage continues.....
Salon

The Army is ordering injured troops to go to Iraq

At Fort Benning, soldiers who were classified as medically unfit to fight are now being sent to war. Is this an isolated incident or a trend?

By Mark Benjamin

March 11, 2007 | FORT BENNING, Ga. -- "This is not right," said Master Sgt. Ronald Jenkins, who has been ordered to Iraq even though he has a spine problem that doctors say would be damaged further by heavy Army protective gear. "This whole thing is about taking care of soldiers," he said angrily. "If you are fit to fight you are fit to fight. If you are not fit to fight, then you are not fit to fight."

As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.

I've been too tired and just fed the f**k up, but I saw this and wanted you all to know.

Jenkins, who is still in Georgia, thinks doctors are helping to send hurt soldiers like him to Iraq to make units going there appear to be at full strength. "This is about the numbers," he said flatly.

That is what worries Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, who has long been concerned that the military was pressing injured troops into Iraq. "Did they send anybody down range that cannot wear a helmet, that cannot wear body armor?" Robinson asked rhetorically. "Well that is wrong. It is a war zone."

(snip)
Eight soldiers who were at the Feb. 15 meeting say they were summoned to the troop medical clinic at 6:30 in the morning and lined up to meet with division surgeon Lt. Col. George Appenzeller, who had arrived from Fort Stewart, Ga., and Capt. Aaron K. Starbuck, brigade surgeon at Fort Benning. The soldiers described having a cursory discussion of their profiles, with no physical exam or extensive review of medical files. They say Appenzeller and Starbuck seemed focused on downplaying their physical problems.

share

a classic sign of a broken military when invalids and the medically unfit are pressed into service.

We knew it would come to this, no?
There's no way in hell Congress is going to pass a draft.

This is about making sure that those who need care will die so the government doesn't have to provide it.

underestimating the economic costs of the war Shooting the messenger

Linda J. Bilmes, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University, calls her latest paper "pretty dry." That hasn’t prevented it from riling high-ranking Pentagon officials — who called her and her dean to complain about her work. When they questioned her sources of material, they ran into a bit of a problem: She did most of her research with data on federal Web sites. So what did the Pentagon do? It changed the Web sites, and now continues to trash her research.

The story begins with a paper Bilmes wrote last year with Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor and Nobel laureate in economics. In their study, they found that the Bush administration has seriously underestimated the economic costs of the war in Iraq. After the study was publicized, Bilmes was approached by some experts on veterans’ benefits who said that one ost of the war hadn’t received enough attention in their work (or from the government): the costs of caring for veterans injured in the conflict.

The central argument of the new Bilmes paper is that so many soldiers are being injured that the

costs of caring for them over their lifetimes is likely to be $350 billion, or up to twice that, depending on how long the war lasts. The high cost is the result of huge advances in military medicine that have greatly reduced the chances that a soldier injured in Iraq will die. As a result, the ratio of injuries to deaths — 16:1 by her estimate — is higher than in any other war in U.S. history. (By comparison, in Vietnam the ratio was 2.8:1 and in World War II the ratio was 1.6:1.)

johnf

Swinging from pessimist to optimist, the political situation could change dramatically later today with Chuck Hagel announcing his candidacy.

At the moment Bushco are able to paint all war opposers as leftwing Democrats, thus partially stopping the antiwar onslaught of ALL Democrats.

Now a major threat comes from the Right. So far, what with their sexual and social and religious flaws, Republican candidates have seemed a pretty sorry bunch. But something like 40% of Republicans are antiwar.

If a two front war is opened on the Neo-Cons and Bush - and the anti-patriotic card is far more difficult to play against Hagel - things could get far more interesting.

The rightwing libertarian Justin Raimondo argues this case on:

http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=10658

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 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            
Blog powered by Typepad