Monday, November 28, 2005

Martin van Creveld is really shrill!

Forward Newspaper Online: Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War By Martin van Creveld November 25, 2005: The question is no longer if American forces will be withdrawn, but how soon -- and at what cost.... Confronted by a demoralized army on the battlefield and by growing opposition at home, in 1969 the Nixon administration started withdrawing most of its troops in order to facilitate what it called the "Vietnamization" of the country.... [T]his is not a pleasant model to follow, but no other alternative appears in sight.

Whereas North Vietnam at least had a government with which it was possible to arrange a cease-fire, in Iraq the opponent consists of shadowy groups of terrorists with no central organization or command authority.... [S]imply abandoning equipment or handing it over to the Iraqis, as was done in Vietnam, is simply not an option.... [T]he new Iraqi army is less skilled, less cohesive and less loyal to its government than even the South Vietnamese army was.... Washington might just as well hand over its weapons directly to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Clearly, then, the thing to do is to forget about face-saving and conduct a classic withdrawal....

American forces will have to fall back on Baghdad. From Baghdad they will have to make their way to the southern port city of Basra, and from there back to Kuwait, where the whole misguided adventure began.... A withdrawal probably will require several months and incur a sizable number of casualties. As the pullout proceeds, Iraq almost certainly will sink into an all-out civil war from which it will take the country a long time to emerge -- if, indeed, it can do so at all. All this is inevitable and will take place whether George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice like it or not.... A continued military presence, made up of air, sea and a moderate number of ground forces, will be needed.

First and foremost, such a presence will be needed to counter Iran, which for two decades now has seen the United States as "the Great Satan." Tehran is certain to emerge as the biggest winner from the war -- a winner that in the not too distant future is likely to add nuclear warheads to the missiles it already has.... [A] divided, chaotic, government-less Iraq is very likely to become a hornets' nest. From it, a hundred mini-Zarqawis will spread all over the Middle East, conducting acts of sabotage and seeking to overthrow governments in Allah's name....

Maintaining an American security presence in the region.... will involve many complicated problems.... Such an endeavor, one would hope, will be handled by a team different from -- and more competent than -- the one presently in charge of the White House and Pentagon.

For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins.

Now this is, even by my standards, very shrill. Has Martin van Creveld simply caught an extreme case of the madness to which we have all succumbed as a result of the incompetence, malevolence, mendacity, and stupidity of George W. Bush and his administration? Or is van Creveld hearing things about the White House--through his own military-academic and Israeli-security networks--even more terrifying and devastating than I am hearing through my networks.

The Bush administration: worse than you can imagine, even after taking account of the fact that it is worse than you can imagine.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Stratfor: Shrill

In Monday's Geopolitical Intelligence Report, Stratfor's George Friedman takes time out from job searches in 16th century Florence to reveal that he has been driven completely mad -- mad, he tells you -- by the incompetence and disconnection from reality of the George W. Bush administration.

When people talk about intelligence failures, they inevitably speak about the WMD issue. That was trivial, however, compared to the failure of the U.S. intelligence community to discover that the Baathists had planned for continued warfare after the fall of Baghdad.


Moreover, they failed to consider that the behavior of forces defending Iraq's seizure of Kuwait during Desert Storm might be different than the behavior of forces resisting American occupation of Iraq proper.


The administration cannot admit what is self-evident: it does not have the ability, by itself, to break the back of the Sunni insurrection.


The problem the Bush administration has -- and it is a problem that dates back to the beginning of the war -- is its inability to articulate the reality. The United States is not staying the course. It has not been on course -- if by "course" you mean what was planned in February 2003 -- for two years.

Welcome, George. Feel free to give your coat to the doorshoggoth.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Eric Umansky is really shrill. He fears that what General Petraeus and others are doing in Iraq is to train Iranian-allied Fedayeen Death Commandos:

Eric Umansky: 'Training' Iraqi Forces Won't Do It : James Fallows' opus on how the U.S. has FUBARed training Iraq's army has been rightly getting a lot of attention. But there's one thing I think it misses.... If the U.S. helps create 'capable' soldiers... loyal to, say, their own Shiite militia, is that a net positive? From Newsday....

[P]olice commandos. In combat uniforms, bulletproof vests and wrap-around sunglasses or ski masks, they muscle through Baghdad's traffic jams in police cars or camouflage-painted pickup trucks... part of the Iraqi security forces... blamed for a wave of kidnappings and executions around Baghdad since the spring. One such group, the Volcano Brigade, is operating as a death squad, under the influence or control of Iraq's most potent Shia factional militia, the Iranian-backed Badr Organization, said several Iraqi government officials and western Baghdad residents.... In the past year, the U.S. military has helped build up the commandos under guidance from James Steele, a former Army Special Forces officer who led U.S. counterinsurgency efforts in El Salvador in the 1980s. Salvadoran army units trained by Steele's team were accused of a pattern of atrocities.... The [new] Volcano Brigade was built up under the current, Shia-led government and "is mostly made of men from the Badr militia," said a Shia source close to the unit. Like most of a dozen people interviewed about the commandos, he asked not to be named for fear of being killed....

Insisting--hoping--that the U.S. can "train" Iraqi forces to drop their ethnic loyalities is strikes me as nothing more than an assumption, an assumption upon which much of the U.S.'s chance for 'success' rests.... Peter Galbraith's piece in the New York Review of Books... there is no "Iraqi" army; there are basically only units loyal to their own ethnicities...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Progress Toward Further Dimensions of Yet More Intense Shrill Bush-Related-Madness-Activities

Robert Moomaw directs us to the extremely sharp-eyed James Fallows, whose shrill screeds of Bush-hatred redefine the genre:

The Blog | James Fallows: What Bush Isn't Addressing on Iraq | The Huffington Post : It would be nice if, even once, the Bush administration addressed the strongest version of the case against its Iraq-and-terrorism policy, rather than relying on bromides ("fight them there, so we don't have to fight them here") and knocking down straw men ("some say Iraqis don't deserve freedom...").... On available evidence, the President himself has not grasped the essential criticism of moving against Iraq when he did: that a war in Iraq undercut the broader and longer term war against Islamic terrorism. Not in one speech, not in one interview or off-hand remark, not in one insider account of White House deliberation has there been the slightest indication that President Bush recognizes this concept sufficiently to offer a rebuttal to it.

Someone who does recognize that distinction is Donald Rumsfeld, who raised exactly this concern... that the United States might be creating terrorists even faster than it was killing them.... Paul Wolfowitz's answer would also be fascinating to hear -- but he is off to other projects now.... As for an answer from Dick Cheney, dream on. So when the President decided on Friday to "respond to the critics" of his Iraq policy, naturally he did nothing of the kind. For the record, here are the three biggest, most obvious points not even addressed in his speech:

1) Everybody was not, in fact, working from the same misleading information. The administration's line about WMD these days is: OK, we might have been wrong -- but everybody was wrong.... [A]t the time, [however,] Administration officials were most emphasically NOT saying "hey, we're all operating in the dark here." The implied message of every briefing for reporters, every speech to the public, and every background session with legislators, was: If you knew what we knew, then you'd be as alarmed as we are. That was the message of Dick Cheney's statement that "there can be no doubt" that Iraq "now" had weapons of mass destruction, of Condi Rice's warning about the mushroom cloud, and of Colin Powell's presentation to the UN....

2) To say that Saddam Hussein might have been a threat is not to say that we had to invade when we did. The Administration had two responses when asked in 2003 "what's the rush?"... the troops were in place, they couldn't wait forever, soon it would be hot.... This obviously is a "Guns of August" style of reasoning: the trains are moving toward the front, so we might as well start World War I. The other response was: we've waited 12 years, why wait any more? The answer to that was, first, that Iraq was now crawling with weapons inspectors... and, second, that beginning a war could touch off a lot of messy complications left out of the optimistic war scenarios.

This is the crucial point: Every aspect about managing occupied Iraq could have turned out better with more time... line up Arabic-speaking or Islamic allies... get adequate U.S. troops on the scene... protecting the power system, the hospitals... the public infrastructure....

3) As for managing Iraq after the fall of Baghdad, there is no shared blame at all. The Bush Administration owns every aspect of this disastrously bungled situation. The failure to stop the looting; the deliberately low-ball on the number of occupying troops; the rash decision to disband the Iraqi army; the inattention to how quickly American "liberators" would become "occupiers"; the lassitude about recruiting or training enough Arabic speakers or getting serious about developing an Iraqi force -- on these and a dozen other familiar points, the Administration cannot possibly say, "Hey, everybody was wrong." These were the decisions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, in many cases bulldozing or ignoring contrary views from within the military and other parts of the government. Or, I guess the reality is: the Administration could "possibly" say this. They just couldn't say it honestly.

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Do it now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The shrill Bush-hating ulullations of Fred Kaplan rend the night beneath the dead, uncaring stars:

Parsing Bush's new mantra. By Fred Kaplan: President George W. Bush has suddenly shifted rhetoric on the war in Iraq. Until recently, the administration's line was basically, "Everything we are saying and doing is right."... Now, though... a new line is being trotted out: "Yes, we were wrong about some things, but everybody else was wrong, too, so get over it."... [D]oes Bush have a point? Did everybody believe, in the run-up to the war, that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction? And are Bush's Democratic critics, therefore, hypocritically rewriting history?...

As with many of the president's carefully worded speeches... this one contains fragments of truth... but they serve only to disguise the larger falsehoods and deceptions.

Let's go to the transcript:

Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

This is not true. Two bipartisan panels have examined the question of how the intelligence on Iraq's WMDs turned out so wrong. Both deliberately skirted the issue of why.... There's something misleading about Bush's wording on this point, as well: The investigation "found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments." The controversy concerns pressure from the White House and the secretary of defense to form the judgments--that is, to make sure the agencies reached specific judgments--not to change them afterward.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein.

This is an intriguingly ambiguous statement.... Most of the world's intelligence agencies figured Saddam Hussein would like to have weapons of mass destruction. If he means an assessment of Saddam Hussein's capabilities, though, he's wrong: Several countries' spy agencies never bought the notion....

They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing the development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

This, too, is misleading. These resolutions called on Saddam to declare the state of his WMD arsenal and, if he claimed there was no such thing, to produce records documenting its destruction.

[M]any of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security."

Bush's opponent, Sen. John Kerry, did utter these words, possibly to his later regret. Still the key phrase is "to use force if necessary." Kerry has since said--as have many other Democrats who voted as he did--that they assumed the president wouldn't use force unless it really was necessary....

That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and Senate--who had access to the same intelligence--voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

This is the crucial point: these Democrats did not have "access to the same intelligence." The White House did send Congress a classified National Intelligence Estimate... [which] did not cite the many dissenting views within the intelligence community. The most thorough legislators, for instance, were not aware until much later of the Energy Department's doubts that Iraq's aluminum tubes were designed for atomic centrifuges--or of the dissent about "mobile biological weapons labs" from the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research....

In Saddam's case, many of us outsiders (I include myself among them) figured he'd had biological and chemical weapons before; producing such weapons isn't rocket science; U.N. inspectors had been booted out of Iraq a few years earlier; why wouldn't he have them now? What we didn't know--and what the Democrats in Congress didn't know either--was that many insiders did have reasons to conclude otherwise. There is also now much reason to believe that top officials--especially Vice President Dick Cheney and the undersecretaries surrounding Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon--worked hard to keep those conclusions trapped inside.

President Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said today that the arguments over how and why the war began are irrelevant. "We need to put this debate behind us," he said. But the truth is, no debate could be more relevant now. As the war in Iraq enters yet another crucial phase--with elections scheduled next month and Congress finally taking up the issue of whether to send more troops or start pulling them out--we need to know whether the people running the executive branch can be trusted, and the sad truth is that they cannot be.

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Impeach them now.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The "Nelson Report" Is Now the "Black Goat with a Thousand Young Report"

Josh Micah Marshall reports that the Nelson Report is really shrill. It is calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush:

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: November 06, 2005 - November 12, 2005 Archives: A snippet out of this evening's Nelson Report ...

Scandals.... on the torture scandal part of the ongoing psychodrama called America, the political theme is that the Republican Leadership continues to trip all over itself, contradicting each other, insulting each other, and generally looking like incompetent fools. This is almost too much for the Democrats, who can hardly believe what they see unfolding, and who thus, so far, remain in something of a comic stupor, pending an organized, coherent attack.

But things are happening, and Senate Dems are coalescing around efforts to force real hearings on the misuse of Iraq war intel, and the torture scandal...even as the Republicans flounder between trying to deny everything, while simultaneously excusing or explaining it away. Latest example...former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, whom, you will recall, was forced to resign for insensitive racial remarks, is clearly revenging himself with comments that it was a fellow Republican who leaked the "CIA torture" story to the Washington Post last week.

On the larger topic, law and morality...the ethic of being an American leader, and its betrayal by the Bush Administration...the NY Times today details last year's CIA Inspector General's classified report that Bush Administration torture directives carried out by the Agency "might violate some provisions of the International Convention Against Torture..." and remember we warned last night that the CIA pros have it out for the White House....

We checked with a highly informed/involved former State Department source. His comments: " 1988 when John Whitehead signed the Convention in New York, and then later, when we ratified it, we enacted domestic laws where necessary to make it 'the law of the land'... we had this to say to the UN, copy to the Senate:

Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States. It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority. Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offense under the law of the United States. No official of the government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture. Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture. US law contains no provision permitting otherwise prohibited acts of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be employed on grounds of exigent circumstances....

Hummm....sounds like a pretty solid case for an impeachment proceeding, were there anything resembling either a sense or shame, or national ethics, in the Leadership of the House of Representatives and Senate. Something to be argued out in the 2006 Congressional campaigns?

They've brought us very, very low.

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Do it now.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The New York Times Editorial Board Is Shrill

We welcome the New York Times editorial board. The typeface used on their personalized straitjackets is, of course, Times Roman.

The New York Times editorial board is finally shrill--albeit five years too late. But they shy at the jump. If they believe what the body of their editorial says, the last line should call for Bush's resignation or impeachment:

President Bush's Walkabout - New York Times: After President Bush's disastrous visit to Latin America, it's unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run. An administration with no agenda and no competence would be hard enough to live with on the domestic front. But the rest of the world simply can't afford an American government this bad for that long.

Bush... could barely summon the energy to chat with the 33 other leaders there, almost all of whom would be considered friendly... under normal circumstances. He and his delegation failed to get even a minimally face-saving outcome at the collapsed trade talks.... [W]hen... Bush first ran for president, he bragged about his understanding of Latin America, his ability to speak Spanish and his friendship with Mexico. But he also made fun of Al Gore for believing that nation-building was a job for the United States military....

Bush could certainly afford to replace some of his top advisers. But the central problem is not Karl Rove or Treasury Secretary John Snow or even Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary. It is President Bush himself....

Bush has never demonstrated the capacity for... a comeback. Nevertheless, every American has a stake in hoping that he can surprise us.

The place to begin is with Dick Cheney.... This is truly a remarkable set of priorities: his former chief aide was indicted, Mr. Cheney's back is against the wall, and he's declared war on the Geneva Conventions....

Bush... could do what other presidents have done to vice presidents: keep him too busy attending funerals and acting as the chairman of studies to do more harm. Mr. Bush would still have to turn his administration around, but it would at least send a signal to the nation and the world that he was in charge, and the next three years might not be as dreadful as they threaten to be right now.

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Do it now.