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Monday, 3 October 2005
Delay the Iron Fist.
Topic: General News.

Tom DeLay says he can do his “job with or without the title” and that he’s still running the show. Poor guy, he’s a little deluded, he thinks all he’s lost is his title, but he’s also lost his fancy office and his staff and it’s not exactly like his party is falling over themselves to defend him. (I’m sure the Democrats are hoping the GOP lets DeLay continue to run things.) DeLay says he and House “leader” Dennis Hastert are of one mind on their grand Republican agenda of lowering gas prices, cutting taxes and enforcing immigration laws. He says Hastert and him are “simpatico,” but I think a more appropriate metaphor for their relationship would be of a puppeteer and a puppet.

Without DeLay pulling the strings Hastert is pretty much left powerless to do anything. We’ll see what Roy Blunt can do but he doesn’t have the relationship with Hastert that DeLay does and he doesn’t have the money and K-Street connections. Speaking of the K-Street project, what are Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed up to these days? Probably laying low hoping that whole Jack Abramoff thing doesn’t come back to snap them in the ass.

Operation Iron Fist update:

The US military says they’ve killed 28 insurgents in around the towns of Karabilah and Sadah on the Euphrates River valley area in their latest offensive Operation Iron Fist (See below.)[AP]. When did they bring back the body count, by the way, and why do they always seem to kill insurgents in even numbers? It’s a little odd to me that they’ve decided to revive the practice, discredited in the Vietnam War, of making up phony evidence of progress by counting bodies. They’ve repeated every other mistake made in Vietnam, so I guess this is par for the course.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed they had taken two Marines prisoner and would kill them in 48 hours unless the Iraqi government released all female detainees. (I assume they’re referring to Dr Germ and Mrs. Anthrax?) The Multinational Force West says, “There are no indications that the al-Qaeda claims are true,” and said they were checking to make sure “all Marines are accounted for.” Well, that’s reassuring.

In political news: Iraqi president Jalal Talibani is calling for PM Ibrahim Jafaari to resign. Talibani accuses Jafaari of monopolizing power and dragging his feet on the de-Arabization of Kirkuk. I’m sure this is all political posturing but the issue of Kirkuk is a big keg of TNT sitting right in the middle of room that’s got its fuse lit. No matter what else happens, Kurdish independence and Kirkuk are going to have to be dealt with one way or the other.

There is no question that the Turks are serious about not allowing the Kurds to control Kirkuk but the Iranians have their own population of troublesome Kurds and they are no doubt up to their necks in the issue of Kirkuk as well. They obviously have a major beachhead in the Iraqi government in the form of Jafaari’s Shiite bloc and their infiltration of Basra gives them a powerful hand to play. Talibani’s concerns about Jafaari’s power play inside the government are most likely linked to Iran’s meddling.

I don’t see how we’re going to circle this Kirkuk/Kurdish independence square without several other countries in the region getting involved in the fighting inside Iraq, including Israel who is reported to have sent Mossad agents to train Kurdish rebels inside Iran.

This is what happens when you let your foreign policy be run by a bunch of ideologues with a nice theory but no practical knowledge of the how to implement it. Raw military power has its limits, especially when there is no provision made for the political and diplomatic requirements of a monumental undertaking such as transforming a backward Arab country with a toxic ethnic and religious history into a modern western democracy.

Where are Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Kristal when you need them? Any new theories in where we go from here guys?

Saturday notes:

The US announced the beginning of Operation Iron Fist today, a military offensive aimed at supposedly preventing al-Qaeda from entering Iraq from across the Syrian border. It’s good to finally see some truth in advertising in this new operation’s nomenclature; it really invokes memories of Fallujah II. (So much or winning hearts and minds.) I wonder why so much attention is being focused on the Syrian border if, as the pentagon says, only about 2 percent of the insurgency is of foreign origin? I thought the main threat was former Ba’athist Sunnis, Rummy’s Saddam regime “deadenders “

Do we really have to bomb Tal Afar and Qaim into the Stone Age to get at these terrorists, or al-Qaeda, or whatever they’re calling them this week? [If we get into the way-back machine and go back to Saigon in 1962 or so, we’ll see the US information agency in Vietnam coming up with the bright idea of calling the Vietminh the Vietcong, in order to make the them more commie sounding. Branding them as the “Cong” helped reinforce the image of a Godless yellow peril.]

From what I can glean from the media reports coming from pentagon briefings in the Green Zone, there seems to be quite a lot of insurgent activity and the resulting mass casualties going on in around Baghdad and not so much out in the western deserts.

Operation Sword, Operation Steel Resolve, Operation Futile Flailing and all the other heavy handed “Operations” being launched every other week on the border don’t seem to be accomplishing much beyond moving desert Iraqis, already living in squalid conditions, into Red Crescent refugee tent cities and providing plenty of rubble for the insurgents to find cover in. [Remember the Russians in Stalingrad, don’t the Generals read history books?]

The Iraqis and Syrians have been smuggling in that area for a millennia or more, I don’t see how we’re going to put a stop to it with these ad hoc offensives.

Even though Robert Kagan is basically a more scholarly Ton Clancy type, he makes a good point when he says our assets over there could be used more intelligently and effectively if we stopped employing WW II set piece tactics and started fighting the insurgency on their level. We do have the ability and know how to fight these guys with the Special Forces.

Ultimately, however, even this sort of warfare is only going to accomplish so much, but we can’t just keep going on sending our troops out there to die like sitting ducks on needless supply convoys.

Lets do more with less. Most of our people in Iraq are not even fighting; they’re just hunkered down in heavily defended “fire bases.” Lets get some assets in there who are trained and equipped, make them light and mobile and drop the static base strategy.

But it worked so well for William Westmoreland in Ka Sanh and General Leclerc at Diem Bien Phu. (n'est-il pas?) God! We’ve recreated the Colonial Highway system! I’m not with Kagan on staying the course, though, we have to get out; find an opportune moment, declare victory and adios!

And just one more thought: When are we going to stop playing paddy cake with the Saudis? I read today in the WSJ that the US State Department has postponed for six months imposing sanctions including trade restrictions on Saudi Arabia for their brutal crushing of religious freedoms. The only difference between the Saudis and the Taliban is that the Saudis drive Mercedes not donkeys. Oh, and by the way, all those al-Qaeda types coming across the border, that we’re spending so much time and ammunition trying to stop, are mainly Saudis.

Sending all their young fanatics to Iraq is good for preserving the royal family’s gilded hides, but is generally bad for the average Iraqi and keeping all his body parts intact. If I were the president, I’d tell the Saudis to knock it off or we’ll stop buying their oil, an embargo in reverse. It takes two to tango and even the Chinese can’t buy that much oil, King Abdullah will have to either deal with his homegrown religious nuts or think about shutting down a few dozen of his palaces for a while.

Between the Canadians and our strategic oil reserve and maybe thinking about making nice with Hugo Chavez---he’s really just a screwball, he’s not trying to kill us---we can sweat them out. Every dollar we put in the tank goes right into Jihad Inc. As Tom Friedman pointed out last week on Tim Russert’s show, we’re funding both sides of the war on terror. It has to stop.

Fuck the poor, they don’t vote for us anyway!

I know W. is all about ending inequity and poverty and maybe even showing us some of his scars these days, but unfortunately congress is not in such a Johnsonian state of mind. On Friday, just as everybody was packing up for the weekend, the senate passed by a voice vote, a bill to continue spending levels from this year until November 18th, because they couldn’t pass government pending bills before the end of the fiscal year. The newspapers all dutifully reported this in their “briefing” sections, the focus of the story being this is the 9th year in a row the congress hasn’t been able to pass their spending bills before October first. After 9 years, this isn’t really news.

What is news, is that the House the day before passed a “continuing resolution” which included Republican cuts to community grant programs across the board in some cases 50 to 75%. [NPR]

Tom Harkin (D.Iowa) told his colleges that voting for the bill would cut money for those most desperately in need of it. Some 1.8 million without high school educations, 3.7 million poor children, millions of disabled Americans rely on these programs and Harkin called for an amendment to be added the senate bill to restore the funding. The Republicans would have none of it. Mississippi senator…..said that in order to vote on an amendment attached to the bill the House would have to be called back to vote for it, which was too much trouble.

Harkin counted that it wasn’t too much trouble for the House to come back on Easter Sunday to vote for the Terry Schiavo bill, but in the end, Harkin’s efforts were to no avail. The Republicans rammed the bill through on a very dubious voice vote, which is their usual tactic when they know they might lose an honest tally. And then W. signed it. Now, the senate can go home and if anybody bothers to point out that the rhetoric coming out the White House about caring for the poor is somewhat undermined by this legislative lynching of the country’s most vulnerable, they’ll blame it on the House.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:00 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005 1:33 PM EDT
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