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07 August 2009

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Cato the Censor

Nice centurion photo. Brings back memories of home. Is that from HBO's "Rome?"

VietnamVet

War is hell. But, why has the USA been at war for almost 8 years with no strategic plan to end the bloodshed?

First, the absence of rules and laws gives adrenaline junkies a chance to be war profiteers.

Second, the fighting overseas has been by volunteers and contractors and the federal government is not quite bankrupt, yet.

Third, corporate media has promoted the fear mongers at the expense of truth.

Fourth, many Americans including leaders and soldiers believe they are fighting forces of evil, Islam.

According to Hillary Clinton, the third front is Somalia.

Hell on earth continues, unchecked.

Fred

Wormtongue, there are many of his ilk inside the beltway.

Cieran

I recognize Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney in the picture on the left. But who's the other guy, the one with the hat that's two sizes too large? Addington?

William R. Cumming

Perhaps prompted by the photo of Imperial Roman Centurion ask the blog the following question:

I don't always agree with writings of Edward (sic) Luttwak but I always found his book "The Strategy of the Roman Empire" of great interest. Wondering givent the differenc in time and technology whether US strategy in military affairs and foreign affairs does not seem to closely parallel Luttwak's analysis of Roman strategy? It seems to me IMO that the Romans for their time did better than US! But interested in opinions and facts!

F B Ali

There is much rejoicing in the MSMedia (and presumably in Washington) over the "death" of Baitullah Mehsud. It may well be true, but I would advise caution. I find it suspicious that his demise was first announced to the media by one of his aides. What better cover from nasty drones than to be presumed safely buried six feet under?

I would recommend that the champagne be popped when some tangible, independent evidence of the death is discovered.

Maureen Lang

Since this is an open thread, I do heartily recommend Cieran's "Prairie Skies" photo post over at The Athenaeum. He's a wonder with that camera, is our Cieran.

PirateLaddie

Given the GOP's apparently serious moves into Swat & other parts of NWFP, the elimination of Baitullah Mahsud in Waziristan, and the hinted deal to keep Karzai in power next door, what might be done next to move the ball further down the field without another COIN toss?

Jackie

Col.,
Do you think your commentors are afraid of an open thread and need a topic to argue about?

Once more, would someone please explain to me why we are still in Afghanistan eight years later?
Thank you.

Jose

Two old economics stories that I would like to share and get your opinions and feedback:

1. Porsche drama, Gulf states bailing out on the Dollar?

2. Desertec which has attracted lots of backers.">http://www.reuters.com/article/earth2Tech/idUS321870797520090713">backers.

Different Clue

Although these picture are surely meant to get us to think beyond the movies they are taken from, the "old king and Gryma Wormtongue" shot reminds me of memories specific to Lord Of The Rings itself. And these memories are...of a serious and unfunny animated cartoon movie Ralph Bakshi did of Lord Of The Rings in the 1980s sometime. It covered the first 1.5 books and then stopped. It was at least as true to the story as the New Zealand movie, and the animation captured even better for me the spirit and atmosphere I think Tolkien was trying to convey. When Frodo first put on the ring while hiding under that log, the animation suddenly changed form and texture to "show" the RingWorld into which Frodo thereby entered. The animation changed from normal cartoonish to hardedged surreal animated oil painting. The nazgul became huge horn-hatted figures. Things like that make me unhappy that the Bakshi movie stopped being shown many years ago. Anyone who could find a copy
would find it worth watching, I think.

William R. Cumming

Question? Do any readers of this blog see any real coherence between our foreign policy/relations and our national security strategy? I have always thought that Edwin (sic) Luttwak did a nice summary of Roman strategy in his book involving that title. Have we adopted or improved on Roman strategy given changes in the times and the technology? Looks to me like Rome more coherent but could be wrong. Also why is proliferation so far down the real heavy lifting effort of our government? After all US started it all and looks to me like more nuclear missle armed nations coming down the road and soon! But could be wrong. Is our (US) first team and first team effort on proliferation work?

Redhand

The centurion photo rocks. No, I don't think it's from HBO's "Rome," where the uniforms and helmets were remarkably true to those of the late Republic. This looks like a later "Imperial Gallic" helmet from the early 1st Century AD worn by one of those wonderfully fanatical Roman re-enactors. I have yet to see one of these folks in the flesh, but they are reportedly every bit as obsessed with their subject matter as US Civil War re-enactors. Cedo alteram!

Yellow Dog

Okay, I'll start. I submit that if the Dow continues to go generally up, and unemployment continues to go generally down (admittedly a big if), then the D's will make gains in the mid-term elections, and 2012 will be a slam-dunk for Obama. Oh, and the GOP will get even more unhinged than they are now, because it's all about partisanship anyway.

The struggle over healthcare, while important for the nation, will not have have the slightest impact on the political climate. Anyone else?

Cold War Zoomie

I want to retire where they have these:

Tapas

Anyone got a couple mil they can send my way so I can quit the rat race today and move to San Sebastián?

jonst

Any thoughts on whether Congress is going to be dumb enough to pass the proposed sanctions on Iran?

Nightsticker

Colonel Lang,

Since this is an open thread, here is a barrage of mini-threads.

(1)Just finished re-reading Fred Ickle's "Every War Must End". Would like to share with your readership a passage that sheds some descriptive and predictive light on many of the issues discussed on SST.
"In part, governments tend to lose sight of the ending of wars, and the nations's interests that lie beyond it, precisely because fighting a war is an effort of such magnitude.Thus it can happen that military men, while skillfully planning their intricate operations and coordinating complicated maneuvers,remain curiously blind in failing to perceive that it is the outcome of the war, not the outcome of the campaigns within it, that determine how well their plans serve the nations interests."
(2) Just read in Marine Corps Times that 7 of the 12 KIAs in the last week were SGT/Staff NCOs. Were this trend to continue it would have genuinely serious implications for the Corps.
(3)The Times of London carried an interview with the incoming CoS of the British Army. He advises the citizens of his country that the war in Afghanistan Will likely require a British Army presence for "30 or 40 years". He does go on to comfort them though with the assurance that it would likely not be at the current force level.
(4) The Taliban and the various other Resistance groups groups seem to produce new leaders no matter how many we kill in raids and drone attacks.[Here I will avoid comment on the attacks that go wrong and end up hitting wedding parties, funerals,residences with women and children, etc]. I wonder how long these foreign adventures of ours would go on if the Flag Officer/General Officer/ SES casualty rate was similarly high.Would our leadership stand up to frequent attacks on the executive dining rooms,senior officer dependent housing,the "O" Club?

Nightsticker
USMC 1965-1972
FBI 1972-1996

Nancy K

Cold War Zombie, San Sebastian is too expensive and too many ex pats. Costa Rica is quite beautiful, still cheap, good food,but quickly filling up with ex pats.

John Badalian


Col. Patrick - I find it a little interesting, even ironic that a Hollywood depiction of a Roman Soldier would be featured this weekend. Tomorrow being the anniversary of the Battle of Adrianople, the battle which essentially marked the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire. The Roman Emporer Valens, who perished in this AD 378 slaughter, has to be up there as one of the worst rulers of ALL time. This idiot ruler, lest one forget, allowed the entire Visigothic People to emigrate into the Roman Empire, in order to escape from the Huns, the greatest military force of the age. Instead of treating the Goths with charity, Valens through his hand-picked governers, brutally exploited them. Bloody revolt followed. Col. Pat, you know the military blunders and disaster that followed better than I could hope to! Best - John B.

anna missed

Thought I'd cross post this, if you will.

Gareth Porter has an provocative post up at Antiwar.com in which he views the recent agreement between the Maliki administration and the Shiite insurgent group “League of the Righteous”, that formally ends the groups armed resistance to the regime that:

This deals a final blow to the U.S. military’s narrative of an Iranian “proxy war” in Iraq.

Because:

The U.S. command in Iraq has long argued that Iran was using “special groups” of Shi’a insurgents who had broken away from cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army to destabilize the U.S.-supported Iraqi regime — but pro-Iranian groups were weakened by U.S. military pressures throughout 2007 and defeated by the Maliki regime in 2008.

The history of the new agreement confirms what was evident from existing evidence: the “League of the Righteous” was actually the underground wing of the Mahdi Army all along, and the Sadrist insurgents were secretly working closely with the Maliki regime against the Americans and the British — even as it was at war with armed elements within the regime.

The contradictory nature of the relationship between Maliki and the Sadrists reflects the tensions between pro-Sadrist elements within the regime — including Maliki’s Da’wa Party — and the anti-Sadrist elements led by the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

But more importantly though, he goes on to outline the contradictory nature between the Maliki administration and the U.S. occupation forces during that time, which eventually culminated in first, the SOFA agreement that set a hard deadline for the U.S. withdrawal that then set the stage for the big Maliki win in the subsequent election cycle that recast Maliki as a popular nationalist:

The relationship between Maliki and the U.S. was also marked by contradictions. Even through he was ostensibly cooperating with the U.S. against the Sadrists in 2007 and 2008, the Maliki regime was also cooperating secretly with the Sadrist forces against the Americans. And Maliki — with the encouragement of Iran — was working on a strategy for achieving the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq through diplomatic means, which he did not reveal to the Americans until summer 2008.

While I think Porter’s assertion is fundamentally correct, I think it overlooks some larger implications, which if true, are indicative of how the Maliki administration in coordination with Mqutada al-Sadr, gamed the the Bush administration into a diplomatic victory for Iraq, when a simple insurgent military victory was out of reach given the complicated sectarian context.

As I duly noted in the Iraqi Election Postscript post, was what was rather amazing about that election was, that literally minutes after Maliki’s victory in that election, his administration immediatly formed a political alliance with the Sadr organization. While most ignored this development, or some saw it at best, as a sort of self admission of Sadr’s falling star, following as it did, months of seemingly brutal U.S./ISF coordinated attacks on his organization - it struck me as a particularly suspicious turn of events, but a turn nonetheless had a certain logic in that it also just happened to honor all of Sadr’s basic political demands. Most specifically, the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraqi soil.

As Porter indicates, the release of Sadr’s lieutenants blows away the (U.S.) myth of the so called “special groups” as working for Iranian interests, when in fact, they were connected to the Mahdi Army all along and working it would seem, in some un-official capacity with the Maliki administration that ultimately created a grand illusion that fulfilled the occupations expectations - in order to shatter them at a later date on the diplomatic front with the expulsion of the occupation by decree.

What I’m saying is that throughout the entire roll up of Sadr’s movement there was a tacit/secret agreement between him and Maliki that would both create the appearance of Iranian military influence (and bolster U.S. justifications and confidence in Maliki), that would then lead to a roll up of said Shiite insurgency that would in turn, lay the foundation for the occupations irrelevancy to the security of Iraq (and thus, disarming U.S. justifications), that in turn would permit a stringent SOFA to be negotiated in Maliki/Sadr’s favor, that could be backed up by the Mahdi Army (if need be), that would finally set the stage for Maliki to consolidate power in the election. Power that would in the end, be in total synchrony to Muqtada al-Sadr’s vision of Iraq.

Fred

Jose,

The Desertec idea is certainly a interesting; however the promoters need to look at the experience’s of Brazil and New Zealand. Brazil had heavy reliance on hydro power and the effect of drought upon their grid capacity was significant and expensive to ameliorate. New Zealand has had multiple inter-island transmission line failures. Neither country had to worry much about terrorism or regulatory capture (or outright appropriation of the transmission capacity as Russia has done to Ukraine in the gas pipeline operations repeatedly).

On another topic, any suggestion as to learning how to embed a hyperlink in a post would be appreciated.

Nancy K

This this is an open thread, I will bring up the whole health care debacle. I do not understand why some Americans are so fearful regarding government sponsored health care. The elderly in this country get Medi-Care, which is government sponsored. The military have medical care paid for by the government. I imagine government workers get medical insurance paid for by the government, and our Congress and President get life time medical care paid for by the government. We are the government, we are paying for others health care why should not all of us benefit.
I bring this up not because I don't have health care, I do,but because as a nurse, I have seen many people without health care not getting the care they need. Also 3 of my adult children do not have health care, they cannot afford it. This country needs affordable and fair health care for all of it's citizens.
I think all the anger shown at the health care meetings have nothing to do with health care but illustrates how much some people hate the President and the Democratic party.

Patrick Lang

Nancy K

Civil servants buy their own health insurance under schemes in which the government arranges group rates.

I neve did that because I was taken care of by the military as a retired officer. pl

John Kirkman

"illustrates how much some people hate the President and the Democratic party."
My oldest daughter lives in Nebraska and cannot afford Blue Cross, the only insurance allowed in the state. Nancy K is only partially correct;much of the hatred is race related and encouraged by an unhinged Republican Party that Barry Goldwater would not recognize or affilate with.

Tyler

Re: Govt health insurance

You still encounter the same problems though. I recently wrecked a motorcycle, and ended up receiving bills that totaled over 2K even though I had the top tier insurance. After calling, turns out that the offices failed to report my accident as a emergency (with the exception of the podunk ambulance company, who did report it as such). Instead it was reported as an unapproved surgery.

Its simply all too complex, I think, with too many chefs in the kitchen. And if push comes to shove, they know that they can stick you with the bill, and tell you its between you and your insurance company. Why do so many Americans end up going into bankruptcy over medical bills? What happens if they just refuse to pay instead of living like refugees and selling the house, the car, and everything else? Are they that scared of their credit score going down? Just do like millions of illegal aliens do and simply be a charity writeoff.

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