US losses in Iraq and Afghanistan today (3525) are approaching the half way mark (3750) of the military losses during the Clinton years.
It's quite an expansive post with sources and history. Very worthwhile.
Every week I write some additional words to those of the Sine Man. I have no traffic in front of my house. I cannot post a hand-painted sign. No one will read it.
John Burns, foreign correpondent for the NYT, offers his opinion on Iraq.
And my guess is that history will say that the forces that we liberated by invading Iraq were so powerful and so uncontrollable that virtually nothing the United States might have done, except to impose its own repressive state with half a million troops, which might have had to last ten years or more, nothing we could have done would have effectively prevented this disintegration that is now occurring.
No outrage from the editors at the NYT??? I mean, sure, he didn't say the US could win but, he didn't Blame Bush.
What timing: NY Post - A Ban on 'Victory'
Consider correspondent Chris Hedges' infamous 2003 commencement address at Rockford College, where he charged that Americans were becoming "tyrants to others weaker than ourselves," and linked Bush to Vladimir Putin and Ariel Sharon - whom he said were "carrying out acts of gratuitous and senseless violence."
Nor, as the Web site Timeswatch.org points out, was there any reprimand of correspondent Neil McFarquhar, who last summer also appeared on Charlie Rose's show and at tacked the Bush administration for "rush ing bombs to this part of the world."
"It just erodes and erodes and erodes America's reputation," said McFarquhar - who, unlike Gordon, did not even offer the disclaimer that his was "a purely personal view."
From the Times, silence.
Some of us have, apparently, moved beyond the pretense of supporting the troops but not the mission.
William Arkin (via his WaPo blog):
The Troops Also Need to Support the American People
The Arrogant and Intolerant Speak Out
A Note to My Readers on Supporting the Troops
Arkin, the Greenpeace activist turned Military affairs correspondent claims, among many other things, troops receive "obscene amenities", are mercenaries, and owe us. Anybody who disagrees with him is apparently arrogant and intolerant. And now, in his last post, he didn't really mean it we're to believe.
But others, like Kos, buy it "lock, stock, and barrel" so-to-speak.
Arkin Was Right - We Do Have a Mercenary Army and They Do Owe Us!
Interestingly, with Arkin expressing what is clearly a personal view...one has to wonder what the folks at WaPo think about all this. Especially in light of recent events over at the NYT regarding Michael Gordon. What that about? Michael Gordon was asked for his opinion. Unlike William Arkin.
Drawing a Line
Times editors have carefully made clear their disapproval of the expression of a personal opinion about Iraq on national television by the paper’s chief military correspondent, Michael Gordon.
The rumored military buildup in Iraq was a hot topic on the Jan. 8 “Charlie Rose” show, and the host asked Mr. Gordon if he believed “victory is within our grasp.” The transcript of Mr. Gordon’s response, which he stressed was “purely personal,” includes these comments:
“So I think, you know, as a purely personal view, I think it’s worth it [sic] one last effort for sure to try to get this right, because my personal view is we’ve never really tried to win. We’ve simply been managing our way to defeat. And I think that if it’s done right, I think that there is the chance to accomplish something.”
I raised reader concerns about Mr. Gordon’s voicing of personal opinions with top editors, and received a response from Philip Taubman, the Washington bureau chief. After noting that Mr. Gordon has “long been mindful and respectful of the line between analysis and opinion in his television appearances,” Mr. Taubman went on to draw the line in this case.
“I would agree with you that he stepped over the line on the ‘Charlie Rose’ show. I have discussed the appearances with Michael and I am satisfied that the comments on the Rose show were an aberration. They were a poorly worded shorthand for some analytical points about the military and political situation in Baghdad that Michael has made in the newspaper in a more nuanced and unopinionated way. He agrees his comments on the show went too far.”
It’s a line drawn correctly by Mr. Taubman — and accepted honorably by Mr. Gordon
I haven't seen anything in the NYT from Gordon since this. Disturbing to say the least.
With President Bush announcing 21,500 additional troops being sent to Iraq in a bid to quell violence in Baghdad emotions on both sides of the argument as to whether or not this is a good idea have run high.
In a piece in the Washington Post today Stephen Hadley speaks a basic truth:
The Baker-Hamilton report explained that failure in Iraq could have severe consequences for our national interests in a critical region and for our national security here at home.
For example, for the Arab Mujahideen, led by Bin Laden, who fought the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, their victory was of monumental importance in terms of legitimacy, recruiting, obtaining funding and, other forms of immaterial support. Further, when the USSR began its collaps about a year later, it lent further support to the Arab Mujahideen narrative. Not only did they, with Allah's help, repel the infidel invader, this led, directly, to the collapse of the atheist communist state.
This narrative drives much of Al Qaeda's ideology today.
Additionally, Mr. Hadley states another basic truth:
It [the ISG] said: "We could, however, support a short-term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad . . . if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines that such steps would be effective." Our military commanders, and the president, have determined just that.
The President's new strategy is in accordance with views espoused by the much touted ISG.
Nevertheless, The US Senate, following the lead of some of majority members, has been harranging about a non-binding resolution opposing the strategy. A strategy which, according to the author of the Army/Marine counter-insrugency manual, contributor to the ISG report, and new commander of MNF-Iraq, requires the additional troops to succeed and is undermined by the resolution which would, in Gen. Petraeus' words, "give the enemy some comfort". Gen. Petraeus, was also unanimously confirmed by the same Senate.
It's not all that often that Dick Cheney comes out and speaks about something. So, when he does, the subject is likely important and, what he says is probably worth listening to. The question is, is he right?
Cheney says critics of new US Iraq plan play into hands of Bin Laden (AFP - 14/01/2007)
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Vice-President Dick Cheney accused critics of the administration's new strategy in Iraq of playing into the hands of Osama bin Laden and global terrorism.
Oh my, this is going to be a fun article.
Cheney said withdrawing forces from Iraq rather than the troop "surge" announced this week by President George W. Bush would be "the most dangerous blunder" possible.
Hmm. Well, that doesn't seem to be something one could agree with on face value. But, that's just his assertion, he still needs to back it up. And he better.
"They are convinced that the current debate in the Congress, that the election campaign last fall, all of that is evidence that they're right when they say the United States doesn't have the stomach for the fight in this war against terror," he said.
"Bin Laden doesn't think he can beat us. He believes he can force us to quit," Cheney said, citing US military setbacks in Lebanon and Somalia that led to US withdrawals from those countries.
"He believes after Lebanon and Somalia, the United States doesn't have the stomach for a long war and Iraq is the current central battlefield in that war, and it's essential we win there and we will win there," he said.
"They're convinced that the United States will, in fact, pack it in and go home if they just kill enough of us," he said.
In this point, according to many analysts and authors Cheney is 100% correct. For example, Michael Scheuer (wikipedia). In his works, Scheuer documents, using Bin Laden's own words, how he sees the U.S. as a paper tiger or, a weak horse. Scheuer also shows how Bin Laden is attempting to portray himself as the strong horse to attract supporters.
So, by looking at the issue of how the conflict in Iraq is resolved from the perspective of the Al Qaeda narrative, Dick Cheney would appear to be spot on.
President! Or, Secretary of State! Or, Director of National Intelligence or, something useful! I've read some of James Woolsey's public writing (on the state of the world, and on oil) and that prompted me to watch meeting of the House Committee for Foreign Affairs (January 11, 2007, Next Steps in the Iran Crisis) on C-SPAN yesterday during which he testified.
In his prepared statement he provides the committee members with the type of analysis that our brilliant media could never bring itself to do:
The regime’s threats to destroy Israel and, on a longer time-scale, the United States are part and parcel of its essence. Recent official statements to this effect represent not a shift in policy – Iran’s regime has defined itself by its fundamental hostility to the West, and especially Israel and the US, for nearly three decades (“Great Satan” etc.) – but rather a greater degree of public and explicit candor.
This fundamental hostility is now seasoned by a more pointed expression of the views of the circle of fanatic believers around Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi in Qum, including Ahmadinejad himself. This group expressly promotes the idea that large-scale killing should be welcomed because it will summon the return of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi, which in turn will lead to the end of the world. Recently the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting web site has begun to assert that the world is in its “last days” and that, as the world ends, Jesus will appear with the Mahdi, as a Shi’ite and as his lieutenant. This rhetoric is not limited to a small circle. Rafsanjani, e.g., has utilized it as well. To us, of course, it sounds bizarre – but we ignore such ideology at our peril. As Enders Wimbush points out in the current Weekly Standard “Iran’s leadership has spoken of its willingness – in their words – to “martyr” the entire Iranian nation, and it has even expressed he desirability of doing so as a way to accelerate an inevitable, apocalyptic collision between Islam and the West . . . .” Those in decision-making roles in the Iranian regime who believe such things are certainly not going to be very inclined to negotiate in good faith with us about Iraq, their nuclear program, or indeed anything at all. Even deterrence is questionable, much less arms control agreements.
I can't find a record of the question and answer that followed just yet. One member rattled off a litany of grievances worthy of Michael Moore against American policy toward Iran and wondered, "why shouldn't they distrust us? hate us?"
Mr. Woolsey replied that the Iranian leadership does not want to destroy us because of what we've done wrong but, because of what we've done right. He attributes this insight to a conversation with a DC cab driver just after 9/11. In otherwords, our affront to their ideology. It wouldn't matter what we'd done in the past, the end result would not differ. Thanks a bunch Jimmy!
In general, he advocates a policy of non-violent regime change modeled on Cold War efforts in Eastern Europe. This seems like they type of policy everyone could get behind.
Later, he addressed the role of oil in international [in]security (an issue he speaks to at length in the article I link to above).
And finally, by moving toward technology that can reduce substantially the role of oil in our own economy and that of the world’s other oil-importing states, we can help deprive oil exporters – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, and others – of much of their leverage in international affairs. As Tom Friedman of the NY Times puts it, the price of oil and the path of freedom run in opposite directions. The attached op-ed piece of mine, published in the Wall Street Journal December 30, notes the possibility of plug-in hybrid vehicles soon making it possible for consumers to get around 500 miles per gallon of gasoline (since almost all propulsion would come from much less expensive electricity and renewable fuels, the latter mixed with only 15 per cent gasoline). This may seem an extraordinary number. But when General Motors last Sunday joined Toyota in the plug-in hybrid race to market and unveiled its new Chevrolet Volt, one of its executives used a figure of 525 miles per (gasoline) gallon. Five hundred and twenty-five miles per (gasoline) gallon should give Minister Nejad-Hosseinian and his colleagues a bracing degree of concern.
Surely everyone can get behind this type of policy as well.
James Woolsey for President! Or, Secretary of State! Or, Director of National Intelligence or, something useful!
On the face of it, this poster seems represent a legitimate criticism of President Bush sitting in the Oval Office ordering American troops into Baghdad to fight insurgents and terrorists. If he's so eager to defeat them, let him do some of the fighting.
However, if you think about it...
The sign seems to blur the line between a civilian leader and a member of the military. Civilian control of the military is a critical component of any liberal democracy (which includes our form of government):
A state's effective monopoly of force is an issue of great concern for all national leaders, who must rely on the military to supply this aspect of their authority. The danger of granting military leaders full autonomy or sovereignty is that they may ignore or supplant the democratic decision-making process, and use physical force, or the threat of physical force, to achieve their preferred outcomes; in the worse cases, this may lead to a coup or military dictatorship. A related danger is the use of the military to crush domestic political opposition through intimidation or sheer physical force, interfering with the ability to have free and fair elections, a key part of the democratic process.
Even beyond the high-minded doctrinal discussion, there's a much more practical one that speaks to the issue of moral equivalence and legitimacy. I don't want to get too far into that because it's a tad off topic but, when's the last time you saw the US Military conducting a parade carrying a poster of Bush? Or, any current or former president, civilian leader, or general? Now, for example, how about the Iranian military? Or, Hezbollah?
This is not an insignificant point.
Another possibility is that the protester is merely so opposed to the policy that he wants to force President Bush to personally implement it in place of others. Afterall, we know that at least some, particularly Democrats, favor a draft. Forcing political
prisoners opponents to engage in warfare on behalf of the state is not new. Especially on the left. You should read up on the history of penal military units that drew many of their ranks from the pool of gulag inmates. You should note, in particular:
While these camps housed criminals of all types, the Gulag system has become primarily known as a place for political prisoners and as a mechanism for repressing political opposition to the Soviet state.
So, to me, that sign and the sentiment behind it, represents something to be actively resisted. It is far from democratic in thinking. Especially so when compared to today's civilian led all-volunteer force.
From Wikipedia, on the subject of tin-foil hats:
Such hats are very uncommon in mainstream society, as the injuries they might guard against are highly speculative, and their effectiveness in preventing such harm would be dubious even if the danger were plausible. Instead, the concept has become a popular stereotype and term of derision; the phrase serves as a byword for paranoia and is associated with conspiracy theorists
For a more in-depth analysis of tin-foil hats refer to http://zapatopi.net/afdb/ under the subject of the Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie.