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Saturday, 1 April 2006
Thousands of figurative tactical errors.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Boy, whoever thought a U.S. Secretary of State would have so many problems on a visit to our best friend in the world the UK? Condi Rice has been dodging anti-Iraq war protesters from the minute she landed. Jack Straw wanted to give her the royal treatment in his home constituency, but that plan hasn't turned out so well. The British foreign minister's name might not be a household word in Alabama, but an international warmonger like Condi is world famous for the blood on her hands.

A visit to a local mosque in Blackburn was called off on 'fears of an invasion' by anti-war Muslims; a football match she was supposed to attend was rescheduled to avoid her; Paul McCartney declined to meet her and when she went to the school that he attended in Liverpool instead, a half a dozen students lined up at the front door with t-shirts that read, "No torture, no compromise." Protesters outside the school chanted, "Hey, hey, Condi hey, how many kids did you kill today?" [Guardian]

Even a former Foreign Minister under Margaret Thatcher, Lord Hurd, in a speech at the empty football stadium said, "The world only works if the world's only superpower follows the rule like everyone else." Hmmm...I wonder who he was talking about. For her part, Condi said she was used to this sort of thing. "I've see it in every city I visit in the United States." Of course, she's so beloved and so many people support her policies that no matter where she goes at home or abroad she has to avoid massive protests.

I don't know if it was the constant pounding she was taking form the demonstrators or if it was the jet-lag, but at one point in answer to a question about the Iraq war she said the Bush administration had made, "tactical errors, a thousand of them perhaps, I'm sure." But it was all OK she explained because the overall strategy of getting rid of Saddam had worked. "Saddam Hussein wasn't going anywhere without a military intervention," she said. It's nice to see she has such faith in the Iraqi people to take control of their own destinies. (If Daddy Bush hadn't signed off on letting Saddam use his helicopters after he surrendered in the Gulf War maybe they would have had a chance to get rid of him on their own.) Later, one of her spokesman she was only speaking figuratively.

What the hell does that mean? She said her and her buddies had made thousands of tactical errors in a war W. keeps insisting is going great; "lessons learned" and all that, not thousands of tactical errors. It's lucky this bunch wasn't around when we were fighting Hitler. He made thousands of tactical errors, too, and you see where it got him. Unbelievable!

Meanwhile, W. was busy explaining things to the foreign press:

"I'm the funny guy. Go ahead"

Global Warming?

"We -- first of all, there is -- the globe is warming. The fundamental debate: Is it manmade or natural. Put that aside."

Foreign interference in Iraq?

"Syria is a complicated issue because of Lebanon. It's not complicated, actually, it's quite clear what needs to be done." Kaboom!

On remembering history:

"It's what Americans have got to understand. We tend to forget. Ours is a society where things are like instant, so therefore, history almost is like so far back it doesn't count."

On his upcoming visit to the G8 summit in Russia:

"And so I'm pretty confident...that I be in a position where I'm able to walk into the room with the President of Russia and him not throw me out."

Elections in Egypt:

"I appreciate the fact that there were elections in Egypt. That's positive...I think Egypt is a -- has a chance to be one of the leaders of the freedom movement in the Middle East."

[News item: "The Egyptian parliament Tuesday postponed local elections for two years despite opposition from the United States and a leading fundamentalist group, a state-owned newspaper and lawmakers said."

Progress for girls in Afghanistan:

"Afghanistan -- it's obvious -- when you have a society in which young girls weren't allowed to go to school because the Taliban thought it was like against humanity to send girls to school, and now they can, there's an amazing change in that society."

[News itemNews Item: Girls scholl's attacked in Afghanistan]

More figurative tactical errors to come....

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:12 PM EST
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Thursday, 30 March 2006
In Palestine:

Hamas officially took control of the PA yesterday and the U.S. now says it won't deal with any agency in the government. They're terrorists, you see, wouldn't be prudent. (Now we really have an excuse not to deal with the Middle East peace process.) I'm just wondering about the apparent double standard here. I mean, how many people has Hamas killed in the past year compared to the Shiite militias in Iraq? Hamas has maintained a ceasefire with Israel for over a year and after being democratically elected by a large majority of the Palestinian people, they managed to very efficiently form a government in about two months.

No one is saying that Hamas is some great enlightened Jeffersonian operation that is being victimized by the Israelis ---far from it ---but they are the party in control, they have the support of the Palestinians and, at the very least, they're a lot less corrupt than Mamoud Abbas' Fatah party. International donors can be more or less assured that their financial aid is actually going to the poor and not winding up in Swiss bank accounts.

In Iraq:

By contrast, the new Shiite majority in Iraq ---after over three months pointless point scoring and non productive squabbling --- have just announced they're not going to lift a finger to form a government because they're mad at us for an attacking one of Moqtada al-Sadr's militia compounds. This is the same Moqtada al-Sadr who killed a fellow cleric and waged two rebellions against us that caused the lives of dozens of U.S. troops. They're mad at us!

One of PM Jaafari's top spokesmen, Haydar al-Abdadi, went so far as to imply that the U.S. was responsible for the hundreds of mutilated bodies with bullets in the back of their heads popping up all over Iraq. He seems to think there are Iraqi army units solely under our control that are going around abducting Sunnis and killing them. Naturally, it couldn't be militias associated with the main Shiite political parties doing all this right under the noses of Iraq's democratically elected leaders. No way!

Back to Palestine:

After thirty years of brutal occupation, intifadas, suicide bombings and other acts of man's inhumanity to man, there is a chance that things may be going in the right direction in the Palestinian/Israeli "peace process." Instead of following Israel's lead, who once again is claiming they have no peace partner, we should use our influence to get both sides to moderate. Cutting off one side and just allowing the Israelis to unilaterally set the borders and do whatever the hell else they want to do, isn't going to lead to a lasting peace. Once and for all we should tell the Israelis that they can't pick and choose who they will and won't talk to. For better or worse, Hamas is there now. If Sharon had made even the slightest effort to work with Abbas, or we had insisted that he did, we wouldn't be in this position of having to deal with Hamas.

Back to Iraq:

Meanwhile in Iraq, it looks like they're on there way to thirty years of suicide bombings and even more brutal acts of man's inhumanity to man. W. & Co. really screwed the pooch by backing the religious fanatics. By L. Paul Bremer going along with Ayatollah ali-Sistani's approach to elections in an effort to quickly get out of this quagmire, he only hastened the breaking up of the country up into religious and ethnic blocs. Redressing centuries of wrongs done to the Shiites at the hands of the Sunnis and establishing majority rule is all well and good, except in a place like Iraq.

The BBC reported today that there may be as many as 30,000 Iraqis on the move in the country. Sunni and Shiites are moving from their homes in mixed neighborhoods into refugee camps and into the homes of their families in order to keep from getting killed by the various rampaging militias bent on cleansing those neighborhoods. Once this process is over, then the politicians can demarcate their green lines and get on with their civil war in earnest.

But all of this is something future Iraqi leaders and U.S. presidents can deal with. W. will have his presidential library fully stocked with picture books by the time things are settled in Iraq.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:34 AM EST
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Wednesday, 29 March 2006
Back the Sunnis?
Topic: Iraq

Nancy Youssef and Waren P. Strobel in the Inquirer report today:

"U.S. officials sent a message this week to Iraq's senior Shiite cleric asking that he help end the impasse over forming a government and strongly implying that the prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, should withdraw his candidacy for reelection, according to U.S. officials.

The unusual decision by the White House to reach out to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani suggested how eager the Bush administration is to jump-start negotiations that have failed to produce Iraq's first permanent postwar government more than three months after national elections."

Or in other words, we're out of ideas. We've got nothing. Once again we're crawling in suplication to Ayatollah ali-Ssitani to dig us out of the hole we're in.

The report goes on to say that Scott McClellan denied reports in Baghdad that president Bush had written a letter to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim. You remember, al-Hakim is the leader of Sciri, whose armed wing the Badr Brigade is accused of rampaging around Iraq killing Sunnis. The NYT reports that the U.S. military now believes that the Shiite militias are more of a problem that the insurgency is.

So why would the president be writting letters to one of the leaders of those militias, you may ask. It's because we attached our star to the wrong bunch to begin with. The leading Shiite party led by al-Hakim wants to split the country up into three pieces. The Sunnis want Iraq to remain one nation. Say what you will about the Sunnis and their past rule, but at least they're nationalists and more secular for the most part.

I said it along time ago and I'll say it again, we're going to eventually wind up backing the Sunnis. The Shiites may be the majority in Iraq, but the Sunnis are the majority around the region. If we ever expect to get the help of our Arab allies in the Middle East, we're going to have to back the Sunnis.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:38 PM EST
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Tuesday, 28 March 2006
A.C. Grayling and his great plan for victory in Iraq.
Topic: Iraq

The NYT published an astounding column by A.C. Grayling in yesterday's edition that really got me wondering what the hell their thinking about at the Times these days. Grayling started out alright by writing that a watchful press should make sure U.S. forces in Iraq are adhering to the "doctrine of distinction," a basic law of warfare that requires the military to distinguish combatants from noncombatants to make sure the latter are protected.

This is all well and good, but then Grayling launched into a twisted historical analogy of the British war against the Mau Mau in Kenya in the 1950's as an example of what he thinks we should do to "dry out" the insurgency in Iraq. The British colonial strategy for fighting insurgencies involved "physically moving a civilian population from troubled areas into camps,” or draining the pond in which the insurgents swam. The camps in Kenya "into which civilian population was 'drained,'" he writes, "were usually comfortable villages with good amenities and became an element of the hearts-and-minds aspect of the campaign."

Let's just stop here for a moment and get into the way-back-machine and find out exactly what the British did to the Kenyans:

Ashley Pettus writes in Harvard Magazine:

"British soldiers herded nearly one million of them into detention camps and 'emergency villages,' where they endured forced labor, starvation, torture, and disease. At least 100,000 died. When the British left Kenya in 1963, they destroyed all official files relating to their crimes...brutality was common and took place at every level, ranging from electrocution and mutilation to beatings and various forms of sexual assault and humiliation. Many of the women forced to labor on so-called 'poor relief' projects on the reserves died of exhaustion and disease. Others found their babies had died while strapped to their backs during work brigades. Both British officers and loyalist African guards raped women with impunity."

[See also Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya by Caroline Elkins]

Besides, the fact that the British waged a vicious campaign against the Mau Mau that almost wiped out the entire population, there's also the American experience in Vietnam ,which Grayling, I guess, just forgot to mention. We've tried this "draining" the pond strategy before and it met with abject failure. And on top of that, this has already been tried in Iraq in the aftermath of Fallujah II and despite the check points, ID cards and retinal scans, the insurgents are still operating inside Fallujah with relative ease.

The problem then and now is that rounding up whole populations up and putting them behind bars only reinforces support for the insurgency, which wouldn't have been able to operate in the first place if it wasn't for the majority of the population being full square behind the idea of expelling the occupier. Grayling finishes up by writing that, "An insurgency cannot be defeated, only damped down and eventually ended through a political settlement. This hard truth has to guide efforts in Iraq, the sooner the better."

With this I agree, but so far our quest for a political settlement through elections and the creation of a constitution has only exacerbated the sectarian and ethnic divisions inside Iraq. A political solution now seems more distant then ever before. After the assault on Fallujah that left a city of 300,000 in ruins and the de facto imprisonment of its population, coupled with the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the consequent degradation of our moral standing in the world, I hardly think putting Sunnis in concentration camps is a strategy for victory.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:20 PM EST
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Monday, 27 March 2006
That was then, this is now. Picking a new fight with Moqtada
Topic: Iraq

As if things weren't going well enough already, now it looks like we might be going into round two with Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi army. Yesterday, U.S. Special Forces and the Iraqi cannon fodder army apparently stormed a Mehdi army headquarters in Baghdad ---which we called a "terrorist cell" ---and somehow managed to kill a bunch of "insurgents" or militia members or maybe civilians and an 80-year old Imam inside a mosque in the northeast of Baghdad. [NYT] The facts are still sketchy, with the U.S. claiming they were barely involved and didn't attack the mosque at all the Iraqis not saying much of anything on the subject. Something tell me, though, we probably had a much larger role than what we're letting on, but we can't be seen to be taking sides in this non-civil war.

See, the problem is that al-Sadr was the target of a mortar attack near his home in Najaf just hours before this raid took place. Al-Sadr may be connecting the dots at this point and be thinking we're out to get him. Since he's a major power broker in the negotiations to get a "unity government" going --- which will lead to peace and tranquility and our departure --- getting into a hot war with him at the same time we're fighting the Sunnis and al-Qaeda, might not be the best situation to be in. Military spokesman Maj. Rick Lynch says, "Sometimes it's hard to sort out who's killing who," amidst this non-civil war, but in this ever expanding Arabian nightmare we might find out pretty soon that everybody is out to kill our guys in particular.

Adding the Mehdi army to our list of enemies would pretty much double the number of people we're fighting right now and put a quick end to W.'s rosy predictions of a big draw down of forces by the end of the year. That scenario must be especially worrying to congressional Republicans on the election trail who are trying to get Iraq off the front page in their home towns, where the war is becoming ever more unpopular.

The reason I say we probably had more to do with this "incident" at the mosque is because I don't buy the fantasy W. is peddling that the Iraqi army is doing a great job and is increasingly able to operate on their own. The NYT reported in the same article about the raid, that 40 bodies were found dumped near the highway between Baghdad and Baquba, 30 of which were decapitated.

So, I guess, that crack Iraqi army W. is so fond of talking about fearlessly moved in to secure the area and pick up the bodies, right? Not exactly. "Iraqi Army troops waited for American support before venturing into the insurgent-controlled area to retrieve them. 'It's too dangerous for us to go in there alone,' said Tassin Tawfik an Iraqi army commander." Boy, you really get the feeling the Iraqis are ready to stand up so we can stand down, don't you? These bozos can't take a whiz without our air and logistical support. Why would anyone think that they took on the Medhi army all by themselves, while we only sent a few "advisers" to look over their shoulders? Are these the same "advisers" that were giving the ARVN a leg up in Vietnam by any chance? Give me a break.

Someone very smart recently said that a policy that leaves you no options is no policy at all, referring to W.'s contention that our policies in Iraq are working out great. We have no option in Iraq. If we leave it'll be a disaster and if we stay it will be a disaster. Not only are the Iraqis, who we're relying on to take over for us, incapable of operating without our support, but now we're on the brink of being dragged into a full-scale civil war with them being the only ones on our side in this thing.

And even then, we can only really trust the units made up of the Peshmerga, because the Shiite units are infested with troops who are connected to the Medhi army and the Badr brigade. And how long can we count on the Kurds if they decide to take over Kirkuk while we're busy in Baghdad and Anbar? They might have to redeploy to their northern border to deal with the Turks, who are already not exactly impressed by our lack of interest in their little PKK problem problem.

And then there's the Iranians, remember them? If we're too busy dodging all the various factions bent on killing us, the Israelis just might decide at some point very soon Iran has crossed that red-line they keep talking about and take matters into their own hands.

But the Italians will help us, though, right? NO? They're leaving? The Brits? Oh crap, they're leaving too. Well, there's always Romania.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:57 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006 12:21 PM EST
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More evidence that Bush was trying to avoid war. Riiiiight!
Topic: Iraq

The NYT reports that even as W. was telling the world on January 31 2003 that," Saddam is not disarming. He is a danger to the world," he was telling Tony B-liar privately that he didn't expect any WMD to be found before the invasion. According to previously leaked memo of the January meeting, W. was trying to come up with a way to get Saddam to fire the first shot in order to justify the invasion to the world.

The memo says, "The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted with U.N. colours." This was W.'s great idea apparently. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach." Another Bush brainchild was that, "The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam's WMD." (Who, Curveball?) Keep this little tidbit in mind over the next few months as W. tries to come up with an excuse to attack Iran.

Even though W. was initially reluctant to even bother going to the U.N. early in 2002, he was apparently pressured into going the U.N. route at some point, maybe by Daddy. Thus the first resolution that was passed authorizing inspections ---but not an attack as the defenders of Bush keep claiming. Security Council resolution 1441 threatened "serious consequences" if Saddam failed to comply, but not military action per se. (Keep this in mind also as W. and his wrecking ball Co. try to get similar wording into a new resolution against Iran.) The memo says the idea behind the second resolution was that it "would give us international cover, especially with the Arabs." The Brits seemed to be the ones most intent on getting some sort of international sanction for this highly illegal maneuver. Bush for his part thought he had God on his side, so he didn't need no stinkin' badge. Even so, Bush agreed that the U.S. and Britain should attempt to get another resolution but time was running out.

You see, after all the preparation involved in getting ready for the war W. supposedly didn't want ---starting way back in Dec. 2001 when Rummy started taking money earmarked for the war in Afghanistan and moving it into the Persian Gulf ---the military was ready to go and nothing could stop the time table. Certainly not some namby pamby legalistic fig leaf the limeys were asking for. The memo says Bush told his British "partner" that, "The U.S. would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and twist arms and even threaten. But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway." Of course, you see how Saddam forced him into this?

Well, that was then and this is now.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:45 PM EST
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Saturday, 25 March 2006
Soul mates
This is neither here nor there necessarily but, I just happened to come across a Deutsche Welle Tagestema story from Dec. 24 1999, which showed how the people of Groznyy, the capital city of Chechnya, were dealing with the Russian bombardment there. If you'll remember, Vlad claimed that apartment bombings in Russia that killed ------ civilians was the work of the Chechen rebels, and even though he has yet to this day provided any evidence of this, he went ahead and launched another war in Chechnya that goes on to this day. The opening round of this his new "war on terror" was the indiscriminate shelling and strafing of a city of ----- people. At the time, nearly a discouraging word was heard from the Europeans or the American about this campaign of terror and murder and when W. got into office he looked into Putin's eyes and saw a man he could deal with. Putin's war of convenience dove-tailed perfectly with W.'s war of convenience and the two lived happily every after.

As we're lecturing the Russians on their violations of human rights, I though it would be instructive to compare the results of their campaign to wipe out terror.

Here's Groznyy in 1999:

and here's Fallujah in 2004:

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:00 PM EST
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The Russians are no friends of ours! Well, duh!
Topic: General News.
As I mentioned a while back, the Russians are on W.'s shit list these days. It's come to the attention of the president that Vlad "the impaler" Putin, the man who he thought was his soul-mate, is really just another tin-horn dictator. (I don't know, maybe they really are soul-mates.) This apparently hadn't occurred to W. & Co. before, when Putin was closing down all the independent news outlets, rejiggering the constitution to allow him to appoint previously elected Governors and sending his political opponents to Siberia. The veil began to lift when Putin tried to strong-arm the Ukrainians into voting for his guy and then cut off the gas pipelines to Ukraine and Europe during the worst of the winter months. The kicker must have been when Condi came out and declared that Belarus was last true dictatorship and in reply Vald invited Lukashenko to Moscow.

Speaking of Belarus, it's purely a coincidence that just as the Europeans and the Americans are talking about imposing sanctions on president Alexander Lukashenka, who just won re-election with 82% of the vote --- low and behold ---a story comes out in the media that says Russia was spying on us before and during the invasion of Iraq. Strange bit of timing there.

This spying story is really much to do about nothing, because ultimately the intelligence they passed on to Saddam just reinforced his already muddled appraisal of the American strategy in the first place. And something tells me that the U.S. had some inkling of what the Russians were up to because, it's a little difficult for me to believe that they could have gotten their information so wrong on so many things if they actually had someone right in the heart of the command center at Doha. Obviously, they were being fed misinformation on purpose. For the U.S. to be crying foul at this point is a bit like Claude Rains being shocked, shocked that gambling was going on at Rick's.

[An interesting side note in all of this is that the Russian ambassador to Iraq was passing this intel to Saddam, and oddly enough, as he was making his getaway out of Baghdad his his convoy was fired on by U.S. troops and they damn near killed him. Was this a case of trigger-happy troops in the fog of combat, or an intentional attempt to kill or capture the Russian ambassador who no doubt knew who the mole was at Doha?]

I think, the point of this charade is to get tough with Putin. This is SOP for W. & Co.: carry a big stick and...carry another big stick in case the first one doesn't do the job. In this case, though, I don't know how far we're going to get with threats. Russia is the second biggest supplier of oil to the world and Europe would come to a grinding halt if he cut off their natural gas. Plus, China just made a big pipeline deal with the Russians, so even if we're now over the idea of the Russians helping us out with Iran's nuke's the Chinese are hardly gong to be on our side on the Belarus issue.

Besides, they can turn right around and point out that we said not one word when Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan won his election with 82% of the vote back in 2003. At the time, undersecretary of State Richard Armitage even congratulated him on his "strong showing."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:57 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006 2:00 PM EST
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Friday, 24 March 2006
More progress in Afghanistan:

Democratic institutions are flourishing in Kabul and a newly elected parliament of warlords is getting down to the business of reinstating Shariah law. Everything there is going so well --- except for the resurgent Taliban and the opium growing ---and now there comes this case of Abdul Rahman, who is under the threat of being put to death by an Afghan court for converting to Christianity. President Bush is very upset about this latest embarrassment and has sic'd Condi on Hamid Karzai. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says Condi called Karzai and discussed this issue with him "in the strongest possible terms." McCormack says that Condi, "urged president Karzai to seek a favorable resolution to this case at the earliest possible moment."

The problem, according to Barnett R. Rubin, and expert on Afghanistan, is that the West, with their money and military presence, is putting a lot of public pressure on Karzai to quash this, which makes matters worse. The religious types are questioning his credentials as the leader of an Islamic country and in the current atmosphere of religious hurt feelings over the Mohammed cartoons he can't be seen to be backing down to infidels. [Hear Rubin on the World for more on this]

W.s right-wing Christian fanatic constituents here at home are also equally exorcized about this story and are demanding Bush do something about it. The only supporters W. has left at this point are his radical end timers, so when they say jump he says how high. This is the problem you run into when your foreign policy is based on the teachings of the Bible. A book written by a bunch of stinky sun-stroked lunatics 2000 years ago is probably not the best guide to conducting your foreign affairs in the age of instantaneous communications and nuclear weapons.

But, this isn't about religion, parish the thought, it's about democracy. We're all about democracy. Scott McClellan says that this prosecution "clearly violates the universal freedoms that democracies around the world hold dear." W. said on Wednesday that he expects Afghanistan to "honor the universal principle of freedom." What he didn't explain was why Afghanistan is being held up to this standard but Pakistan isn't.

In any case, this puts the Afghan government is a bit of a pickle and everyone concerned wants this story to go away. Supposedly, there is a chance that Rahman will be declared mentally unfit to stand trial and he'll be deported. That doesn't really do much for him or his child custody case, the reason he got into this mess in the first place, but at least he'll get out of Afghanistan with his head still intact.

With all this going on some are starting to wonder what difference getting rid of the Taliban really made. For a long time we were perfectly fine with them being in power so what happened? Oh right, the pipeline deal. Hamid Karzai, being a former adviser to Unocal, understands the value of a pipeline to his country. I guess, as long as the oil flows, we can put up with a little warlordism and Sahriah law.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:01 PM EST
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Iraqi My Lai continued:

Time Magazine reports that the military has reluctantly launched an investigation into the allegations that Marines summarily executed 15 Iraqis civilians in Haditha last November. This comes at the same time that the military is investigating the deaths of 11 civilians last week in the village of Ishaqi, where Iraqi police say Marines killed a whole family execution style. [Night Ridder] The military initially said the civilians were "collateral damage" from a fire fight between them and a suspected al-Qaeda member, but the Iraqi police rejected that claim. Farouq Hussein, a local police official, told Reuters that all the victims were shot in the back of the head. "It was a clear and perfect crime without any doubt," he said.

If this is true, what was going on in these two units? The Marines Corp. isn't exactly an organization that is known for its trigger happy killers. The Marines are the creme de la creme of military, their discipline and professionalism is legendary. If these Marine units just went off on their own and decided to kill civilians in revenge for the death of one of their own and then tried to make it look like it was the Iraqis who did it, with the bullet in the back of the head thing --the Interior Ministry's trademark ---we've got a much bigger problem in the military and the strain its under than just endless rotations and equipment fatigue.

For a while now I've been noticing the large number of NCOs we're losing in Iraq every week and I've been wondering how long we can sustain the loss of so many experienced members of the military and not start to suffer from it. The NCOs are the backbone of the military; they train the recruits and the officers. The hallmark of the volunteer army and its high level of competence is the NCO. All that experience and skill that's lost every time another Staff Sergeant or Lance Corporal is killed starts to add up after a while. Just look at the pathetic state of the Russian army, which uses "grandfathers," or soldiers with two years in the army, to enforce discipline on the new recruits by beating and hazing them. We can't get to the point where the ones training new recruits are just slightly less trained than they are.

Discipline and unit cohesion is what makes an army an army. When young soldiers are going off on their own without orders and killing civilians, especially in an insurgency war like Iraq, where such atrocities can be used by the insurgents to gain support from the local population, it's a sign something is going terribly wrong. Of course, it doesn't help that the Commander-in-Chief, who managed to avoid military service when his country needed him, regularly rewards incompetence and condones the punishment of the lowers ranks while those in command get off scott-free. As long as Rummy, the man most responsible for this mess in Iraq, gets to keep his job and continues to run the military, I don't see things getting any better over there.

I feel really sorry for those poor bastards in Iraq that somehow have to manage to fight day in and day out in the middle of the impossible situation they've been put into by the likes of Rummy and his compliant generals. The most solemn duty a general has is to ensure the safety of those he commands. This batch of lackeys, Tommy Franks chief among them, who remained silent while Rummy violated every hard learned lesson of the Vietnam war, should be prosecuted, not rewarded. Every rule guiding the uses of a post-Vietnam volunteer army was broken by Rummy and Co.:

If you're going to go to war, make sure you have the support of the public, make sure you have overwhelming force to achieve your goals and make sure you have an exit strategy. None of these rules was applied in this situation. The public has bailed, we never had enough troops and W. is hoping a future president can figure a way out, once he's safely out of office building his presidential library.

Our brave war president defends all the good work Rummy has done by saying to his critics, "Listen, every war plan looks good on paper until you meet the enemy." The problem with that is the war plan Rummy came up with didn't envision an insurgency. W. even denied that this particular "enemy" even existed until about a year after our people had started fighting them. Rummy dismissed the insurgency as a small group of Saddam regime "dead-enders" and just ten months ago Dick-shot Cheney said they were in their last throes.

The leadership of this war is seriously flawed, to the point of being dangerous, but this isn't to say the military is completely remiss in its duties to the men and women fighting the war. ATC had a piece the other day on a mock Iraqi town they've built in the Mohave Desert at Fort Irwin to work out strategies to fight the insurgency. It's quite a major undertaking and one of the only generals who actually got his stuff together, Lieutenant General David H. Petraeus, is overseeing the whole thing. This is good and we should all be happy that the people charged with defending this country are using their training and expertise to try and get things right in Iraq, despite the lack of leadership at the top.

Deborah Amos, who did the report, interviewed a general involved in this project, who had been in Iraq during the early stages of the insurgency and he gave an example of the level of denial that was going on in the military back then. He said he was talking to a Colonel about the insurgency when the Colonel stopped him in mid-sentence to tell him there was no such thing. There was only a limited violent uprising, or some such blather. The general told Amos that those using terms to describe what was going on right in front as something other than what it was, was a form of self-delusion.

When I heard that, I was thinking how apropos that was to what is going on in the halls of the pentagon and in the White House even at this late date. As much as I am heartened by the fact the some in the military are trying to get down to brass tacks and come up with a way to fight the insurgency and save American lives, all of that effort is pretty much futile as long as we've got a president who thinks we're on the verge of a glorious victory.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:53 PM EST
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