Sunday, December 17, 2006

3 Excellent Paragraphs from Salon

I was reading on the web this morning and checking some of the opinion pieces at Salon, and came across this great article by Gary Kamiya, entitled,"

A bombshell with a long fuse - The Iraq Study Group report may be DOA. But it shows the Washington establishment is finally confronting reality in the Middle East.

Here's a live link A bombshell with a long fuse, though you likely have to get a free site pass by watching an ad first.

And here's the 3 most excellent paragraphs which express what I have been thinking recently also :

"In fact, the greatest single failing of the ISG report was that it did not make its cautious military proposals -- to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Iraq by 2008, to push harder to train Iraqi troops -- contingent on the acceptance of its diplomatic ones. As many analysts have pointed out, the problem with training Iraqi troops is that Iraqi troops are more loyal to their sects than to the in-name-only government, and so training them might simply result in their being able to shoot at us more accurately in the future. For this reason and others, the ISG's plan would still be a Hail Mary pass even if its diplomatic recommendations were followed; if they are not, it has virtually no chance of success. By saying, "If you don't engage in diplomacy, you should withdraw U.S. troops immediately," the Baker group would have greatly increased the pressure on Bush to abandon his failed stay-the-course approach. And such a link would have given Democrats in Congress invaluable bipartisan support to demand a timetable for troop withdrawal -- something they don't feel they have enough political cover to propose now.

Of course, Bush would almost certainly have rejected this proposal anyway. As his entire disastrous presidency has shown, Bush is incapable of admitting he is wrong. With all the certainty of a simpleton whose brain has been taken over by One Big Idea, Bush has been convinced ever since 9/11 that history and God have chosen him to defeat an enemy of near-satanic menace. (Oddly, this Manichaean attitude is echoed by his also highly devout enemies.) In his mind, the current crisis is the Battle of Britain, and he is Winston Churchill, rallying the British people to their finest hour. Unfortunately, Bush has chosen the wrong World War II analogy. Iraq is not the Battle of Britain, it is Stalingrad. And Bush is not heroically standing fast like Churchill; he is stubbornly clinging to a doomed position, like Hitler. (If he insists on playing Churchill, there's a more applicable battle: Dunkirk.)

{or Gallipoli; during WW I, Churchill pushed for the Gallipoli operation, and long after any window of opportunity had passed for making it work, the Allied generals kept pushing more and more troops into the maw, to no useful end}

So for the next two endless years, the American people, the 140,000 American troops in Iraq and the Iraqi people will have to hang on for dear life as Bush, like Ahab chasing the Great White Whale of "Islamofascism," steers his course straight for Davy Jones' Locker -- with the only consolation being that he will take the Republican Party with him. But the Bush era will eventually pass, and America will be forced to deal with Mideast reality. "

As Kamiya concludes his article: "Bush will reject the Baker Commission's report, the neocons are already screaming in rage and panic, and it remains to be seen whether the Democrats will seriously press for any Mideast policy change that will lead to a showdown with Israel. But the facts on the ground are not going away. "

Sunday, December 10, 2006

An excerpt from Thomas Rick's Fiasco

Well, haven't posted for a while, which means I may have lost what readership I had. Sorry. The Thanksgiving holidays intervened with my time, and then you hit December and more time gets sucked away.

Anyway I finshed reading Thomas Ricks Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq . Reading this along with State of Denial will illuminate many things about the war in Iraq. I highly recommend reading Fiasco. Here is a bit from about the book:

"The main points of this hard-hitting indictment of the Iraq war have been made before, but seldom with such compelling specificity. In dovetailing critiques of the civilian and military leadership, Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Ricks (Making the Corps) contends that, under Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith, the Pentagon concocted "the worst war plan in American history," with insufficient troops and no thought for the invasion's aftermath. Thus, an under-manned, unprepared U.S. military stood by as chaos and insurgency took root, then responded with heavy-handed tactics that brutalized and alienated Iraqis. Based on extensive interviews with American soldiers and officers as well as first-hand reportage, Ricks's detailed, unsparing account of the occupation paints a woeful panorama of reckless firepower, mass arrests, humiliating home invasions, hostage-taking and abuse of detainees."

Then on page 408 we find this passage, which considering the occasion took place a few days short of two years ago are a devastating indictment of the 43rd President taking any action on what has turned out to be the truth back in 2004. It is slightly more than 4 paragraphs, but since I am recommending the book and citing it, I hope the powers that be don't get upset. Okay here goes:

"In December 2004, two unvarnished official reports hit the White House. The first was a somber assessment by the CIA station chief in Baghdad, at that point, the agency's largest station. Called an aardwolf in agency jargon, the assessment enjoys special status under CIA regulations. It cannot be edited by the ambassador, and it is delivered directly to the agency's director. Just a few other copies are distributed, and only to people at the top of the government, with recipents including the president, the secretaries of state and defense, and the national security advisor. "We face a vicious insurgency, we are going to have 2,000 dead, the CIA station chief's report stated, according to a senior U.S intelligence official with direct access to the document.

A few days later on December 17, 2004, according to a former senior administration official, President Bush received an extensive briefing on the situation from Army Colonel Derek Harvey, a senior U.S. intelligence expert on Iraq. Unlike most U.S. military intelligence officials involved in the region, Harvey understood Arabic, and also had a Ph.D in Islamic studies. He had a far less rosy few than what the president had been hearing. CIA and NCS officials who already had received the longer four-hour version of his briefing sat in. The insurgency was tougher than the American officials understood, Harvey told president according to three people present at the meeting. "It's robust, it's well led, it's diverse. Absent some sort of reconciliation it's going to go on, and that risks a civil war. They have the means to fight this for a long time, and they have a different sense of time than we do, and are willing to fight. They have better intelligence than we do." The insurgents had managed to mount about twenty-six thousand attacks against U.S. forces and Iraqis during 2004 and the trends weren't good.

The president wanted to know where Harvey was coming from. Who was he? And why should his minority view, so contrary to the official optimism, be believed. Harvey explained that he had spent a good amount of time in Iraq, that he had conversed repeatedly with insurgents, and had developed the belief that the U.S. intelligence effort there was deeply flawed.

The other officials present weren't entirely at ease with Col. Harvey and his perpective. " There was always the view that Harvey was a little bit over the top," especially in his certainty that he was right and everyone else was wrong, said a former senior administration official.

Okay, what about the Syrian role? the president asked.

One ot the CIA officials spoke up to say that his agency didn't see clear financing coming from Syria. The CIA had long thought that Harvey and other military intelligence figures were overemphasizing the role of Syria and foreign fighters in Iraq. No, Harvey bluntly responded with striking specificity, in fact , we do. "We see four different tracks of financing from Damascus. All to Ramadi, to the tune of $1.2 million a month. And it is based in a very Arab way, on relationships and shared experiences. And all the sigint [sinals intercept intelligence] isn't going to tell you that". But don't focus on the foreign fighters, Harvey told the president, breaking a bit with the orthodox view in military intelligence . We've zeroed in on them too much because our intelligence apparatus can intercept their communications. But they aren't at the core of the Iraqi insurgency, which is "the old Sunni oligarchy using religious nationalism as a motivating force. Thats it in a nutshell."

Its fairly easy to see that events in Iraq have unfolded exactly as Col. Harvey was saying they would back in December 2004.

At this point General Abizaid is saying give us 6 more months and perhaps 20,000 more troops, and the situation will get stabilized. More likely by then there will be 3,500 dead US soldiers, an additional 5,000 more wounded, and the civil war will be just as nasty as it is now.

Just another example of this Adminisration ignoring intelligence because it does not fit their idealogical notions, and then compounding their blunders. And also by late in 2007, their incompetence will likely cost us 3 quarters of a trillion dollars. Well, as the old Houston Post motto used to say, "Let facts be submitted to a candid World."