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16 October 2007

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JohnS

Regarding the Howard Dean comparisons. At this point in the process, Dean was little known. Mrs Clinton's fellow Democratic candidates are all mostly known quantities (do I have to include Mr Gravel?). The less known Obama got a ton of early press/blog coverage and started off his campaign on a high. Now he appears to be mired in a distant second. I don't think we can expect any Dean-like come- from-behind surprises this time around.

Like Col. Lang, I think it's beginning to look like Hillary Clinton will be our next nominee, unless either Obama and Edwards finally decides to bust a Richardson-type move. But now, that becomes harder with Mrs Clinton releasing Iraq policy manifestos as reasonable as this one. Despite her yea vote on the Kyl-Leiberman Monstrosity and what Z. Brzezinski has to say about her foreign policy ("very conventional"), she landed Wesley Clark's endorsement and now I'm finding myself drawn into the Clinton vortex against my will....

Donovan

I have yet to hear a Democratic candidate call the fiasco in Iraq for what it is. An occupation. It is not a war, and hasn't been since 2003. The Democrats have allowed the Bu$h cabal to frame the debate, and keep the Neocon favorite catch phrase "WAR" in the forefront. If Senator Clinton or any other Democratic candidate starts calling Iraq what it is then I will start listening.

Martin K

I found it very encouraging that she speaks about pulling in China as an ally in more issues, and takes Putin quite strongly to task. A US/Chinese powerhouse is a very interesting idea, with almost limitless possibilities. One thing we can take out of the last chinese congress is that they are about to get *really serious* about enviromental issues. A green alliance across the pacific is a very good idea in my eyes..

J

Colonel,

my 'choice' is NOT hillary, but former sen. gravel instead. we need a prez who puts the u.s 'first' instead of the majority of the field of those in the prez race (on both sides) who are beholding to a corporate puppet-master of one persuasion or another.

J

Colonel,

your '67' is 'young' for 'politics', just look at sen. byrd's 'age'.

pat you're a youngster, start kicking up your heels. :)

lina

Warren Christopher was 67 when appointed Sec. of State in the first Clinton adm.

(I'm just saying. . .)

Savrola

Let's not delude ourselves.
The only first-tier candidate of either party who might faciliate an orderly withdrawal from Iraq by 2009, is Ron Paul.

Hillary is merely pulling a Nixon to get elected.

Peter Principle

"Two families running our country for 25-30 years?!!"

Given the state of our "democracy," it's probably more accurate to think of them as brand names -- like Coke and Pepsi, McDonalds and Burger King. People vote for what they know.

Will

i detect "concert of nations" in there.

someone's blog published the brain trusts of the various candidates. i eagerly scanned the clintonistas but did not detect our spymaster, but after all a spymaster would remain undetected.

the thing the bothers me about clinton is what what scott ritter said. Clinton same-same as Bush. the whole Iraq embargo that resulted in the deaths of all those children had nothing to do with disarming Irak. The UN had already disarmed Irak. It was all about regime change. Bush 41 and Clinton 42 colluded together and 43 ramped it up to dismember Irak.

And it appears that Clinton 44 has "OOps, I've done it again", given 43 another blank check to start another war.

No longer is it about WMD. They must not have "the knowledge that could lead to WMD." They shall not be allowed to learn calculus, then the next day Algebra, or Arabic numerals, then the next year allowed to read. New meaning about tasting the fruit of the tree of Knowledge.

Nancy

I think this Clinton being a woman may worry some people. Could we possibly do any worse than Bush/Cheny? Come on give her a chance, she may be a Thatcher, only kidding.

Charles

Is HRC's plan for withdrawal intended to begin implementation before or after the Army mutinies?

I know how decent and patient the troops are in the face of being conscripted to an unreasonable number of tours of duty. But these rotations are wearing, PTSD is affecting a large number of active duty, and at some point we are going to wake up in the middle of 1970.

sixpacksongs

to Donovan and Savrola -

Dennis Kucinich calls Iraq an occupation, voted against the authorization and has voted against funding each time it's come up. He's also filed HR1234 - To end the United States' occupation of Iraq immediately, along with HR676 - Medicare for All and HRes333 - Impeachment articles of Vice President Richard B. Cheney.

I don't see any way Rep. Paul can be considered "first-tier". It's just not going to be permitted. I disagree with him on almost every issue, but this media-driven, party-defined tiering of candidates is a serious betrayal of our democratic principles. My pal Dennis is in the same boat.

Charles I

Charles' comment above,
is "withdrawal intended to begin implementation before or after the Army mutinies? " reminds me to wonder whether we are still on track for the breakdown of the army next spring as discussed last spring.

We have discussed many modes and timing of withdrawal but I don't recall anyone specifically commenting on the political will/army breakdown/withdrawal vector in the context of the real world come next spring. How will the mooted breakdown that many were so exercised about affect. . . well, everything? Can a broken even withdraw in any semblance of order or safety? Is the army still on track for breaking?

I'd be interested in anybody's knowlwedge in this regard. Will the army et al be able to do what must be done when called to do so?

robt willmann

The article "by" Hillary Rodham Clinton in the November-December 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine is stunning in its support for the gangster foreign policy of the United States and the implementation of worldwide organizations with the essence
of governmental authority.

As a brief background, let us
never forget that Bill Clinton, and by extension Hillary, launched an aggressive war against Serbia/Yugoslavia in 1999, a country not an imminent, clear and present danger to the U.S., without a declaration of war or the current illegal fad: a resolution "authorizing" force in some strangely worded manner, against even a non-country.

Now for a few of the disturbing things in the Foreign Affairs article.

1. Not just nation building but world building. In the introductory section alone, "building a world" or its equivalent, and "create a world" appear four times, and the penultimate section is entitled "Building the World we Want". We are to "make international institutions work" and bring them in line with the "power realities" of the twenty-first century and "such documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (paragraph 13).

We need to "engage the world" in a "global humanitarian effort to confront the human costs of this war" (which she voted for and still supports); this will "require a multi-billion dollar international effort" under the "direction of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees" (paragraph 20).

In the section "Strengthening Alliances", India needs to be given a voice in "regional and international institutions, such as the UN". And the U.S., Australia, India, and Japan
must find ways to cooperate on "global climate control", "global energy supplies", and "global economic development". (Paragraph 46).

We need to strengthen "regional institutions" such as the "African Union", which "seeks to emulate the European Union by requiring and supporting democracy among its members" (paragraph 48). You see, "democracy" is not a choice of the African people, but is "required" of them. Let's not forget that France and the Netherlands, two of the biggest pushers of the European Union, voted down its next step, the European Constitution.

Despite the horrible failure of the federal "no child left behind" law in the U.S., and our appalling decline in the ability to read, write, and do arithmetic, Hillary will spread this failure throughout the world with an "Education for All Act", to the tune of $10 billion. (Paragraph 51).

Don't forget that we need "to reach a binding global climate agreement" (paragraph 54).

The "International Labor Organization" can enforce labor laws just like the (destructive) "World Trade Organization" was strengthened "to enforce trade agreements". (Paragraph 53).

And whether China knows it or not, that country "must be integrated into the international system" (whatever that is). (Paragraph 8).

2. An aggressive, unilateral war can be launched against Iran. Without producing proof, Hillary says that Iran "seeks to acquire nuclear weapons" (paragraph 8) and has a "nuclear weapons program" (paragraph 35). She devotes paragraphs 33-35 to Iran and deceives the reader about the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Read the NPT for yourself, which the U.S. signed, and you will see that Iran has the absolute right to do what it is doing "without discrimination", as long as the nuclear material is not diverted to make nuclear weapons and such weapons are not imported.

If Iran doesn't comply "with its own commitments" (it currently is complying according to the IAEA) and with "the will" of the "international community", all options "must remain" on the table (paragraph 34). If you can tell me when the "international community" last met, who was at the meeting, the text of what was decided, and what its "will" was, I would appreciate it.

Hillary repeats the current line of propaganda to gin up a war on Iran.

3. Any country can unilaterally be attacked in order to avert "an avoidable tragedy" (paragraph 11). For an example of this criminal policy, please see the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

4. Poor Afghanistan doesn't realize what Hillary has got up her sleeve. The Iraq War is "diverting attention and resources from Afghanistan" (paragraph 16), which is "where our military effort must be reinforced" (paragraph 27). She claims that "current U.S. policies have actually
weakened President (laughter) Hamid Karzai's government (more laughter) and allowed the Taliban to retake many areas", and that an unimpeded heroin trade finances the Taliban and al Qaeda "terrorists" who are attacking our troops (paragraph 27).

Earth to Hillary: the folks we put in power in Afghanistan are the heroin pushers and warlords who in the past were so bad that the Taliban was accepted to drive them away. And I understand that the Taliban is not a separate tribe, but part of the Pashtun tribe, the largest in that troubled land.

And those pesky Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. "Redoubling
our efforts with Pakistan" will help "root out terrorist elements there" and send a "signal" to our "NATO partners" that the Afghan war and the "broader fight against extremism in South Asia" are battles that "we" can and must win. (Paragraph 28). Whew! Now that's a tall order. So Hillary is going to whip those Waziristan tribes down, something no one has ever done. And who are the "we" who are going to win the battles against extremism in South Asia? NATO and us? I thought NATO had something to do with up north and mainly that area called Europe.

For a real Afghan women's group, instead of Hillary's
foolishness, check out the Revolutionary Association of
the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).

http://www.rawa.org

5. Remember Kosovo? Well, that nasty Vladimir Putin has "thwarted a carefully crafted UN plan that would have put
Kosovo on a belated path to independence". (Paragraph 40). Hold on a minute. I thought the aggressive war against Serbia/Yugoslavia had to do with something other than turning Kosovo into an "independent" Albanian gangster state.

6. We are not going to give up control of Iraq. The old Clinton doublespeak is back in paragraphs 17-21, in which she talks about bringing our troops home safely and redeploying troops from Iraq.

But don't get your hopes up. "I will order specialized units to engage in targeted operations against al Qaeda in Iraq and other terrorist organizations in the region" (paragraph 21). And these "specialized units" will also "provide security for U.S. troops and personnel in Iraq" and train and equip Iraqi security services. And she will also "consider" leaving some forces in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq.

If these "specialized units" are going to provide "security for U.S. troops", who are they? I thought U.S. troops provided security for themselves. Is she talking about mercenaries protecting U.S. troops and training Iraqi security forces? If the specialized units are going to protect U.S. troops, that means that U.S. troops are not leaving Iraq.

Nobody is fooled by the euphemism "targeted operations". Her administration will
run a Murder, Inc. throughout Iraq and "the region", which would include other countries, and go around doing extra-judicial assassinations of whoever it doesn't like.

The war in Iraq will continue.

7. The Colonel's idea for a Concert of the Greater Middle East will not happen if
she is president. Paragraph 19 speaks of "convening a regional stabilization group" which would work, of course, with the "UN special representative for Iraq". But its purpose is not to smooth things over in the Middle East. Rather, it will have a narrow focus: "implementing a strategy for achieving a stable Iraq" that would make everyone except the U.S., Britain, and Israel "stay out of the civil war".

8. Last and still least: the Palestinians. Read paragraph 22 very carefully several times. It starts with the lie that we will be "getting out of Iraq". Then the key words, "peace process". Those who do not want peace with the Palestinians love the peace "process", because a "process" can go on for the next 500 years. Then there is the silly arrogance that the fundamental elements of a final agreement have been "clear since 2000", which was when her husband was president. Elements of a final agreement have been clear for over 35 years, and they are not stated by her.
Notice that her "fundamental elements" speak specifically only about Israel; there is just a vague reference to a
"Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza", which does not include the most important and only word with legal effect: "sovereign". What matters is
the creation of a "sovereign Palestinian state", which would include all sorts of nice things, like control of your own airspace and territorial waters off of Gaza, defined borders, and so forth.

She will continue the policy of trying to pick and control who the Palestinian "leaders" are when she talks of gaining "Arab support" for a leadership "that is committed to peace and willing to engage in a dialogue with the Israelis".

And to make sure that there will be no change in the destructive status quo or a lessening of the oppression of the Palestinians, check out the beginning of the last sentence of paragraph 22: "Whether or not the United States makes progress in helping to broker a final agreement ...."

In conclusion, from all indications, Hillary Clinton is significantly more autocratic and dogmatic than her husband. She will not change the gangster foreign policy of the U.S. and will overlay it with her commitment to and promotion of world government.

Conrad The Crazed

I see nothing here other than the standard 'agree to hold additional meetings' principle of diplomacy. Relying on the United Nations for ANYTHING is simply ludicrous. They are nothing more than a congregation of diplomats living high on the American tax-payer, while simultaneously seeking new ways to extract even more. The continuous flow of tax dollars overseas must stop. While our national sovereignty is continually being sold at warp-speed to the highest bidder, the 'establishment' is muddying the waters with more long-term talk on Iraq and the greater middle-east.

The only candidate even remotely resembling a statesman in the Jeffersonian style is Congressman Ron Paul. We need to return to constitutional republican government ASAP, or the nation we hold dear is truly lost, as our middle class becomes extinct and we crumble into third-world status.

HRC is tacking hard center-right in order to attract moderates, but she is a socialist deluxe at heart. Do not think for a SECOND that she won't make fine use of the various presidential powers Dubya has bequeathed himself. The die is cast, she merely awaits her coronation.

Martin K

Conrad t Crazed: We are in exact opposition on the UN. As Iraq has proved it is the only way forward, though I admit it needs to change. Regional selfcontrol supported by a competent UN core is not a bad idea.

Cold War Zoomie

"HRC is tacking hard center-right in order to attract moderates, but she is a socialist deluxe at heart."

We Americans truly don't understand what socialism really is. It is more than just a collection of social safety nets. The UK prior to Maggie was a pretty serious socialist state with almost all heavy industry, utilities and transport systems owned by the government. Take a gander at what socialism really entails:

Former Nationalised Industries

We would never, ever go that far.

"Do not think for a SECOND that she won't make fine use of the various presidential powers Dubya has bequeathed himself."

This always befuddles me - how pols are so myopic. The second question I would ask myself before granting any more power to a sitting president is whether or not I would want the opposition to have that same power.

Grim

"I can distantly hear the string section tuning up."

Roger that.

John Moore

I haven't had time to read all the comments, but I remember the campaign in 1992 when Bill got Robert Reich to work for his campaign and give persuasive talks about progressive labor policies only to see Reich leave after serving two years as Secretary of Labor when he couldn't make any changes. Likewise Bill wouldn't fix HIV public health policy even though he had sound reasons from the scientists and NIH administrators and such because he didn't think he had any political backing. It's telling that Al Gore and Jimmy Carter have Nobel Peace Prizes and Bill Clinton doesn't. Being a leader sometimes means creating your own political support by going it alone if you have to. The Clintons were good at saying the right things, but they helped the Dems lose the Congress after their first two years in power. The Dems aren't really being courageous right now in Congress. They can't overturn Bush's veto of the schoolchildren's health insurance program, so what chance would they have even if a Dem got the White House? There would just be the chance of another GOP win in Congress and another stalemate like happened to Bill during his terms in office. As far as foreign policy, other than free trade (NAFTA) and the UN missions to Bosnia (which suffered from foot dragging) and Kosovo, what did Bill accomplish? He certainly allowed Bin Laden's little group to become emboldened in their attacks and plans under his watch. Now we want his wife to fix things when she doesn't have the charisma he had, and both of them were ineffective politically the first time?

Lisa

I agree with Martin K--I'd like to hear Hillary addresss the raft of civil rights abuses we have incurred under this administration.

I also think Bill would be fabulous as some kind of goodwill ambassador. I also think he'd make a good secretary of state; surely better than the last two.

I am also with old bogus:

"until we treat terrorists as criminals and combatants as combatants, we are going to continue to be mired in an ambiguous situation."

Clifford Kiracofe

Per the Clinton dynasty and foreign policy, we may wish to keep the Balkans in mind given the rising Wahhabi and Islamic terrorist organization penetration there.

Chris Delisio's take and new book "The Coming Balkan Caliphate":

"... considering that the Balkan interventions were undertaken aggressively by the previous Clinton administration, I fear that it will only get worse if Hilary Clinton is elected president. Most of the people around her who are likely to crawl out of the woodwork and take up positions of power, like Richard Holbrooke, Wesley Clark, Madeleine Albright and their assistants have direct responsibility for the failed policies that have created such a dangerous situation today. They are certainly not going to acknowledge or apologize for this, of course."

"One of the interesting things that has happened in this time has been the disappearance of former mujahedin who have gone ‘underground’ in the Balkans, according to regional intelligence sources to places like Sandzak in Serbia, Albania and Kosovo, or even further to Turkey and Chechnya. What is interesting to note is that the spread of radical Islamist groups in the Balkans has created a network of ‘safe houses’ and underground channels by which wanted terrorists or extremists are being circulated."

"Since the Clinton administration, and a good section of the media that supported it, was so heavily in favor of the Muslim side during the fighting in Bosnia, it’s no surprise that the direct connections between Bosnia and major terrorist attacks, including 9/11, has been underreported."

"Chapter 4 discusses the curious case of Wahhabi Islam in the (former Yugoslav) Republic of Macedonia, and the existence of several groups there that were of interest to the military intelligence services of Italy and France, among others, but have never before been reported in the media. This is a very interesting case because it is so unknown. The existence of a small number of radicals, and groups such as the Pakistani Tablighi Jamaat, among the minority Slavic Torbeshi Muslims comes as a surprise to not only foreigners but also locals. Such groups and their connections between diaspora Muslims from the country and Wahhabi groups in places like Italy and Austria, where they work, was closely watched by the foreign services and even manifested in a few detentions in the Trieste area last year, during an investigation of al Qaeda-linked networks in northern Italy." Etc.
http://www.antiwar.com/deliso/?articleid=11773


Binh

Would like to hear the Colonel's (and everyone's) response to this piece by 12 Army captains who served in Iraq:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/15/AR2007101500841.html

The Real Iraq We Knew

By 12 former Army captains
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; 12:00 AM

Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion. Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.

As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we've seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it's like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it's time to get out.

What does Iraq look like on the ground? It's certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

Iraq's institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting. Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s, the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves. At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.

The inability to govern is exacerbated at all levels by widespread corruption. Transparency International ranks Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And, indeed, many of us witnessed the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars by Iraqi officials and military officers. Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq's oil industry, which still fails to produce the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped would pay for Iraq's reconstruction. Yet holding people accountable has proved difficult. The first commissioner of a panel charged with preventing and investigating corruption resigned last month, citing pressure from the government and threats on his life.

Against this backdrop, the U.S. military has been trying in vain to hold the country together. Even with "the surge," we simply do not have enough soldiers and marines to meet the professed goals of clearing areas from insurgent control, holding them securely and building sustainable institutions. Though temporary reinforcing operations in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad may brief well on PowerPoint presentations, in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on the map and often strengthen the insurgents' cause by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances. Millions of Iraqis correctly recognize these actions for what they are and vote with their feet -- moving within Iraq or leaving the country entirely. Still, our colonels and generals keep holding on to flawed concepts.

U.S. forces, responsible for too many objectives and too much "battle space," are vulnerable targets. The sad inevitability of a protracted draw-down is further escalation of attacks -- on U.S. troops, civilian leaders and advisory teams. They would also no doubt get caught in the crossfire of the imminent Iraqi civil war.

Iraqi security forces would not be able to salvage the situation. Even if all the Iraqi military and police were properly trained, equipped and truly committed, their 346,000 personnel would be too few. As it is, Iraqi soldiers quit at will. The police are effectively controlled by militias. And, again, corruption is debilitating. U.S. tax dollars enrich self-serving generals and support the very elements that will battle each other after we're gone.

This is Operation Iraqi Freedom and the reality we experienced. This is what we tried to communicate up the chain of command. This is either what did not get passed on to our civilian leadership or what our civilian leaders chose to ignore. While our generals pursue a strategy dependent on peace breaking out, the Iraqis prepare for their war -- and our servicemen and women, and their families, continue to suffer.

There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.

America, it has been five years. It's time to make a choice.

This column was written by 12 former Army captains: Jason Blindauer served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Elizabeth Bostwick served in Salah Ad Din and An Najaf in 2004. Jeffrey Bouldin served in Al Anbar, Baghdad and Ninevah in 2006. Jason Bugajski served in Diyala in 2004. Anton Kemps served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Kristy (Luken) McCormick served in Ninevah in 2003. Luis Carlos Montalván served in Anbar, Baghdad and Nineveh in 2003 and 2005. William Murphy served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Josh Rizzo served in Baghdad in 2006. William "Jamie" Ruehl served in Nineveh in 2004. Gregg Tharp served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005. Gary Williams served in Baghdad in 2003.

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