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10 April 2011


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William R. Cumming

A wonderful post with which I wholeheartedly agree. Just as the "Revolutions" of 1848 were not largely successful most regimes including the political parties in the US cannot be reformed from within. But the stage is set for larger catastrophes to follow. This century will apparently be even more explosive than the last.


this is by far the most powerful comment for some time, if you allow me that label? And I hope that the people that have the power to influence matters read it, give up their narcissistic strife (endless factional internal conflicts over policy) and face the scenario you paint.


"A lot of people want to believe in the purposfulness of the American government in its policy towards such events."


When the government acts in ways that seem contradictory/inept/confused/leaderless, etc., etc., I suppose it's to be expected that people refuse to accept that reality.

That refusal, together with the unexamined assumption that government is somehow "all powerful", gives rise to those beliefs that there must be something more at play than the apparent ineptness.

Hence, conspiracy theories.

However, like was said, a rose is a rose.

Ken Hoop

If the US government is comprised of the inchoate competing factions the Col describes, only one more reason it had no business conducting an interventionist Middle East policy unlikely to help the region, Libyan intervention being no exception.

Nevertheless, I'm not sure it can be argued a decline in clerical or any other
nationalism in Iran would automatically help the Palestinian fight for the inevitable, justified one state solution against Zionism. A prime concern.


Is there no moral code for our government to follow? Can we not agree on some simple, clear guidelines? The American people feel confused by our foreign and domestic policies...they seem to be directed by the hidden, narrow interests of those in power rather than an immutable Higher Purpose.

What are American values? Where are they written? Do we know what they are?

The Constitution. The Bible. Why are we so disunited as a people? Help pls.


Col. Lang,

I explicitly said before that I deliberately ignored Hanlons razor: "Never attribute to conspiracy what can be explained by stupidity".

Sadly, you are most probably absolutely correct. The big investors in the status quo have prevailed.

You are right about the Egyptian Officer Corps as events today in Tahrir Square apparently foreshadow.


EGYPT Several hundred protesters stayed in Cairo's Tahrir Square overnight and have barricaded the square with a burnt-out army vehicle, barbed wire and beams.

"The people demand the toppling of the Field Marshal," they chanted, referring to military chief Hussein Tantawi who was handed power after former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted"



You have mentioned increased Chinese influence in Saudi Arabia is likely. Do you think this might involve basing rights? I wouldn't mind having some friendly Chinese troops around if I were the Saudis, but maybe too provocative to the "man on the street"?

michael brenner

There are alternative explanations that do not fit comfortably into the conspiracy or factional deadlocks categories. It has to do with judgment, perspective and a sense of what counts - plus a modicum of responsibility.

The line of analysis insightfully presented by the Colonel was not self-evidently beyond the ability of Mr. Obama, Ms Clinton or Mr Gates to comprehend. What they lacked was the four qualities noted above.

If they had reached the conclusions outlined by the Colonel, I frankly cannot see why there would insurmountable difficulties
in acting upon it. There is no comparison with Iraq; we are not even talking about boots on the ground. The operation got off to good start with the French and British, there were no signs of mutiny in the military, Gates was not about to resign, and no riots in the streets. The fretters on the talk shows would fret anyway but the topping of Gaddafi could well have been over before the usual 'experts' even finished the circuit.

One further condition (a fifth) that should be added to the above notation of qualities worthy of a President and his people. That is a mature freedom fom mania and obsession, e.g. the dread of phanton ben-Ladens behind every Facebook and Twitter message.

In the end, it comes down to the man at the top - it always does. Americans in 2008 were awaiting a Messiah; an empty taxi arrived and Barack Obama stepped out.

Joe Lima

The fact that the neocon conspiracy to invade Iraq succeeded where the advocates of more decisive action on behalf of the Libyan revolt have apparently failed, is dismal to contemplate.

Are our institutions and processes of foreign policy formation so dysfunctional now that we are condemned to oscillate between vigorous pursuit of stupid & unrealistic goals and half-hearted pursuit of noble & achievable ones? And if so, is that a new pattern, historically speaking, and what, if anything, can be done to reverse it?

FB Ali

Col Lang,

An excellent summary of what is really happening. The only thing I would add is: watch carefully what Turkey does.

Turkey appears to have assumed, by default, the role of leadership of the Muslim world. While working to keep this community free of foreign domination (and foreign interference, open and covert), it is also trying to move it in the direction of modernization. That means it will try to support moves towards increasing freedom and democratization, but without openly breaking with the current oligarchic regimes in Muslim countries.

I believe it will try to achieve a resolution in Libya that will prevent Qaddafi from having the free hand that will lead to the bloodbath that you fear, and will leave open the potential for future progress. Of course, there is no assurance that it will succeed in this endeavour (or in its general policy in the Muslim world).

But it bears watching.

Patrick Lang


Ah, no, we should take charge. Suggest a method.

My bretheren, SOS and Highlander know how helpless we are.

You still, nobly, think there is something other than servitude to the corruption of our instututions. God bless. pl


"Servitude to the corruption of our institutions."

Col Lang, what a beautifully concise way to describe America's plight. Rightists think we are still free, when we are demonstrably not. Leftists think we are slave to the institutions of the state or the market, when in reality it is the corruption of those institutions that has opened the door to nihilism and tyranny.


Boobus Americanus cannot be allowed to connect freedom fighting with shouts of All-hu Akbar. What would he think when the Israelis invade Lebanon and/or Gaza again? The skillful portryal of the Egyptian intifada as perfectly secular and peaceful saisfies the narrative woven for the public: Muslims fighting as Muslims are always bad. Arabs fighting (as opposed to 'protesting') for anything while wearing kaffiya are terrorists.

The Twisted Genius

Our union is torn asunder. I don't know when it started, but it became very apparent to me shortly after the Obama inauguration when the Republican party goal of making the Obama administration fail in everything it attempted was openly acknowledged and deemed acceptable by half the electorate. Our present predicament reminds me of the old Russian story of the poor peasant who prayed, "Lord, my neighbor has a goat and I do not. Please kill my neighbor's goat." When the Republicans next hold the oval office, the Democrats will make the same prayer. Unless something cataclysmic happens, we are royally screwed and cannot be expected to demonstrate moral leadership in world affairs.

Come together for a grand purpose? How naive and quaint.

Beyond our borders autocrats not only acknowledge that ruthless application of violent force to retain power is not only effective, but not subject to any meaningful sanction. I don't, however, think this will last forever.

The Twisted Genius

In the seven years or so prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, I got the distinct impression that CENTCOM desperately wanted to have a much larger footprint in their AOR and to have major forces permanently under its command. The enduring bases of Iraq and the occupying forces were to be CENTCOM's dream come true. In spite of our imminent departure, I think there is still a large element in CENTCOM and the in the Pentagon that desperately clings to this dream and are pushing as hard as possible to remain in Iraq...not so much as a matter of defense strategy, but as a matter of bureaucratic enlargement. Of course this is not a proven fact, but it sure looks that way to me.

William R. Cumming

Agree with General Ali that the Turks hold the key to the very near term in both Libya and elsewhere in the Islamic world. Yes Iran please look over your shoulder and ask yourself "who are these guys"? They are the ones that most successfully and most recently washed East and West even to the gates of Vienna. All seem to have such short short memories these days.

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