Saturday, January 27, 2007

It won't stop us.

Here we go again with the fear mongering and patriotic mumbo jumbo. SecDef Robert Gates says any Senate resolution that opposes the Decider's surge plan "emboldens the enemy and our adversaries." (Of course, one could also argue that sending 21,000 more troops into a hopeless situation embolden the enemy by giving them a chance to inflict more casualties, weaken our military capability further and bankrupt us.) In addition to accusing those opposed to W.'s escalation of aiding al-Qaeda, Gates muddies the waters by saying the resolution would prevent Gen. Patreaus from having "the resources he needs to be successful." Of course, none of the various resolutions being debated in the Senate says anything about cutting funding, but you've got to expect these types of bold-faced lies from such a desperate administration.

For his part, W. is spreading his own fog by claiming that Congress should "put up their own plan as to what would work," if they don't like the surge plan. They're just "condemning a plan before its even had a chance to work," he says. Judging by the great job he's done in Iraq so far -- 3,070 Americans killed; 30,000 wounded, half a trillion dollars down the toilet; 34,000 Iraqis dead last year alone; two million Iraqi refugees on the move; and a brutal civil war that threatens every day to spill over into the entire region -- I don't think this country can afford to give his new plan a chance to work.

What W. doesn't want anyone to know, is that Democrats do have an alternative plan, it's called the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group report, which W. rejected out of hand last month. This plan recommends, among other things, putting our resources into training Iraqi troops, pulling our troops out within a year and launching a major diplomatic effort in the region to get all sides involved in fixing the mess W. made in Iraq. You can see why W. never gave the ISG recommendations a second glance; too much jaw jaw, not enough war war.

The fact is, W. & Co. aren't in the least bit interested in taking a detour from their march of folly. They're committed to the proposition that escalation is the way to go and nothing is going to get in their way; not the American people and not Congress. And not the Iranians, who are now the new excuse as to why everything is going to hell in Iraq.

The Iraqi Army is our ally, right?

ABC reports:

"The United States Senate has confirmed the appointment of Lieutenant General David Petraeus as the new commander of US forces in Iraq. He will have the job of implementing US President George W Bush's decision to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq to crack down on the violence. The vote was unanimous, even though many Senators oppose the idea of sending more troops to Iraq - something the army General supports."

So our modern General Grant is flying to Iraq with the full backing of the president and the US Senate. He's got the wind at his back and he has a plan. Of course, one small problem with the plan is that it doesn't provide enough troops to get the job done. According to General Petreaus' own counterinsurgency manual he needs 120,000 troops to secure Baghdad. All he's going to have is 35,000. He claims that will be fine because the real number including Iraqi forces will somewhere near 85,000. On top of that he says he can rely on private security contractors to make up the remainder..

This sounds like wishful thinking to me, especially, the part about expecting the Iraqis to be of any help at all. After reading the article in the NYT by Damien Cave and James Glanz describing their time with the Third Stryker Brigade Combat Team [those poor bastards!] on patrol in Haifa Street with an Iraqi unit, I get the impression the Iraqis will be a bigger hindrance than anything else.

Glanz and Cave write that while the U.S. troops were dodging small arms fire from every direction the Iraqi unit kept disappearing. In fact, at one point the Americans thought their Iraqi "partners" might be the ones actually doing the shooting. When the Iraqis did show up they were pretty much worse than useless. Door to door searches were pretty much left up to the Americans to get done. [Justlike their families tried to tell Rummy they were doing back in August, when he canceled their trip home.]

Glanz and Cave report: "Many of the Iraqi units that showed up late never seemed to take the task seriously, searching haphazardly, breaking dishes and rifling through personal CD collections in the apartments. Eventually, the Americans realized that the Iraqis were searching no more than half the apartments: at one point the Iraqis completely disappeared, leaving the American unit working with them flabbergasted."

The article highlights the fact that the Iraqis are something less than properly equipped and disciplined. "One Iraqi soldier. . .pointed his rifle at an American reporter and pulled the trigger. There was only a click: the weapon had no ammunition. The soldier laughed at his joke."

Lt. Col. Avanulas Smiley of the TSCT, 2nd ID, "Conceded that the cost of letting the Iraqi forces learn on the job was to add to the risk of the operation. 'This was an Iraqi-led effort and with that come some challenges and risks,' Colonel Smiley said. 'It can be organized chaos.'"

I should think any type of chaos, organized or otherwise, in a military operation is a recipe for a lot of casualties. But my question is, why are they still learning on the job? Haven't we trained over 300,000 of them in the past three and a half years, according to the pentagon? And wasn't General Patreaus himself in charge of that task for most of that time? Retired General Douglas Macgregor gave this stinging critique of Patreaus' tenure as Iraqi army trainer on the NewsHour saying: " The Iraqi army today is, by anyone's definition, a disaster, and it is substantially his creation."

So this is the guy who is now going to go in there and save the war? He's going to go right into the neighborhoods, setting up district bases behind 12 ft. high blast walls with an emphasis on heavy patrolling. Some say his supposed success in Mosul was mainly due to the fact that there was no insurgency there to begin with. By the time he left, though, his heavy handed patrols had actually created an insurgency, which subsequent units going in had to deal with.

But getting back to the Iraqis: Reading Glanz and Cave's report is like de ja vu all over again. Absolutely nothing has changed since Dexter Filkins wrote about his experiences being embedded with US troops who were working with Iraqi units in Fallujah back in 2004(just before Fallujah II): [From a post on this blog 11/13/04]

Filkins writes of the Iraqi troops "fighting along side" the Marines, 'the farther south the marines push through this rebellious city, the more often they notice that the men shooting at them are wearing tan uniforms with a smart-looking camouflage pattern that is the color of chocolate chips.'

There have been incidents of insurgents fighting against our troops in these National Guard uniforms, so now the "good guys" are being made to wear a piece of red tape on their right arm and a white piece on their left leg.

He continues, "When members of the First Platoon, B Company, First Battalion, Eighth Regiment of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, turned onto a street on Thursday, they saw the chocolate-chip camouflage pattern and hesitated. There was no red tape on the right arm or white tape on the left leg. It did not matter. Before that registered with the marines, the insurgents opened fire, killing one and wounding two. The rebels fled. "'They should just take these guys out of here,' Staff Sgt. Eric Brown of the First Platoon said, 'because they're causing my men to hesitate.' He added, 'That hesitation cost my marine his life.'"

Sound familiar?

Any way you look at this surge, its one big disaster waiting to happen. I hear Gen. Patreaus is wicked ambitious and he's probably thinking that if he can pull this off he'll be on the fast track to the top. Perhaps, though, General Patreaus should be thinking less about the example of a General Grant and more about what happened to General Custer. The Iraq war has ruined the reputations and careers of many generals who have gone before. In a couple months I think he's going to be seriously asking himself why he didn't just show up for his confirmation hearing in diapers and a propeller hat.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Maher Arar should not come to U.S.

Maher Arar is back in the news. It seems our ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, thinks Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day should mind his own business when it comes to who can and cannot enter the U.S. [CBC]

Day wants Arar, who was detained by the US in 2002 and rendered to Syria for torture, to be able to go to the US if he wants. Wilkins says, "It's a little presumptuous for him to say who the United States can and cannot allow into our country." It's a little presumptous for the US to be going around the world kidnapping people with no links to terrorism and sending them to third countries for torture, too, but that's different, I guess.

Last week Day met with Michael Chertoff who told him that Arar would just have to try and get in to see if he'd be allowed to enter. Chertoff said, "I'm simply going to say that this becomes a relevant issue only if and when somebody presents themself to come into the United States. Otherwise, it's kind of a hypothetical issue."

Strangley, he said this after he and Alberto "water board" Gonzales had come out and said that Arar would remain on a terrorist watch list. Nothing hypothetical about that. Macleans reported that: "In a letter. . . Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said they've looked at the secret U.S. file on Arar and think the decision is 'appropriate.'" David Wilkins said later that, "Mr. Arar's original removal from the United States in 2002 was based on information from a variety of sources, as is his current watch-list status."

Of course, the fact is that a Canadian government commission found that Arar was completly innnocent and apologized to him. The US has not. Patrick Leahy gave Gonzales a whole of grief about the case the other day telling him, "This abhorrent practice stains America's reputation as a defender and protector of human rights. Yet the Bush administration has yet to renounced (it) and it has yet to offer even the hint of an apology to Mr. Arar."

Like Gonzales cares. As far as he's concerned everything was done just right. "We were not responsible for his removal to Syria, I'm not aware that he was tortured, and I haven't read the Commission report. Mr. Arar was deported under our immigration laws. He was initially detained because his name appeared on terrorist lists, and he was deported according to our laws."

Of course, and even though he was a Canadian citizen, for some reason Gonzales decided to send Arar to Syria. But not to worry:

"We understand as a government what our obligations are with respect to anyone who is rendered by this government to another country, and that is that we seek to satisfy ourselves that they will not be tortured. And we do that in every case. And if in fact he had been rendered to Syria, we would have sought those same kind of assurances, as we do in every case." [Jurist]

Leahy answered that by saying: "Attorney General, I'm sorry. I don't mean to treat this lightly. We knew damn well if he went to Canada, he wouldn't be tortured. He'd be held; he'd be investigated. We also knew damn well if he went to Syria, he would be tortured. . . And it is easy for us to sit here comfortably in this room, knowing that we're not going to be sent off to another country to be tortured, to treat it as though -- well, Attorney General Ashcroft said, 'We’ve got assurances,' though assurances from a country that we also say now, "Oh, we can't talk to them because we can't take their word for anything." []

Oh, you can trust the Syrians, just like you can trust the US government. They've got information on Arar, you can count on that. Thery can't disclose what they have, naturally, because that would treaten national security.

If I were Maher Arar, I'd stay as far away from this country as I possibly can.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cheney's rantings:

It appears that W.'s big 'give war a chance' speech on Tuesday didn't produce the desired results. One day after the speech the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted out a resolution denouncing the New Way Forward by a vote of 12-9. All the Democrats voted for it along with one Republican, Chuck Hagel. Everyone expected Hagel to vote for the resolution, as he's been a critic of the war for a while, but now even Senator Warner has his own resolution calling for W. to cut the crap. When you've lost Warner, you're in deep doo doo. What is a war president to do?

Dick Cheney knows what to do; he told Wolf Blitzer in a very testy interview on CNN that whichever resolution eventually gets passed by the full Senate, "It won't stop us." No matter what the American people want or Congress says, "We are moving forward. The Congress has control over the purse strings. They have the right obviously, if they want, to cut off funding. But in terms of this effort, the president has made his decision." Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Of course, I don't think anyone in Congress (besides Jack Murtha) is talking about cutting off funding. That would "validate the terrorists' strategy." The point of the resolution is to say Congress doesn't support the president's surge plan. Cheney says he thinks any resolution would "detrimental from the standpoint of the troops."
He's one to talk about that!

It's kind of funny that Cheney would be implying that Congress was endangering the troops by cutting off funding, when it was he and his old buddy Rummy who sent troops into Iraq in the first place without sufficiently armored vehicles and without body armor. Didn't Rummy say something along the lines of, "You go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.?"

I recall reading somewhere that 80% of all the Marines who have died would be still alive today if hey had had the proper armor. [IHT]I also seem to recall Cheney's former company Halliburton was poisoning GIs with contaminated water.[AP]Whose fault was that?

Congress has signed off on every supplemental funding request the administration has asked for since the war began and what is there to show for it; 3,044 U.S. soldiers dead, 34,000 Iraqis dead in the past year and a half trillion dollar price tag for a full blown sectarian civil war that's already spilling over into the region. I wouldn't cut off funding for the troops to stop this war, but maybe cutting off funds to Bush and Cheney might get their attention. Congress should say, 'You want to defy the will of the American people and Congress? Do it on your own dime. Oh, and by the way, we're raising your taxes.'

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bill Kristol is nuts.

Ok, Bill Kristol is clearly out of his mind. He was let out of his cage and some idiot let him publish an op-ed in Time Magazine:

"To succeed in reversing the deteriorating situation in Iraq would also have real consequences. The forces of liberty (if it's permissible to use so naive a formulation) could regain momentum in the Middle East. Jihadism could be set on the run. Individuals and nations might decide that it is once again wiser to be a friend of the U.S. than an enemy. Why, the Bush presidency might even turn out to be a success! What a thought!"

As I've said before, I don't know why the media keeps listening to him and his neocon brethren because they were basically wrong about everything.

Remember this oldy but goody from 1998?

"The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy."

Remember Ken Adelman in Feb. 2002?

"I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk." [WaPo]

Rumsfled another PNAC allum:

"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world and the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."

"There is no question but that they would be welcomed. Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and the al-Qaeda would not let them do."

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

And now more nonsense from Mr. Kristol:

"The foreign policy cognoscenti and the political élites were happy to dismiss the fact that Saddam's trial was a real achievement of a struggling democracy fighting terror and sectarian strife. They were eager to deprecate the fact that Saddam was tried in court before courageous judges under the laws of his nation, with a chance to defend himself. They were willing to pretend it was no big deal to see a tyrant brought low, to see injustice punished and justice done.

Why? Because to dwell on the life and death of this mass murderer might remind Americans of the fundamental justice of the war. It might cause the American people to wonder why, having accomplished this, they should be so quick to give up on accomplishing more."

You know, he's so right. After witnessing a bunch of thugs from the Mahdi Army inside Saddmam's death chamber with cell phones chanting "Muqtada, Muqtada," I really got the idea there was so much more to accomplish in Iraq. We've lost over 3000 U.S. troops and have spent a half trillion dollars to set up a Shiite theocracy bent on genocide.

Much better than a Sunni regime bent on genocide.

Presi-duck get's Webbed.

I think the drubbing the GOP suffered in the November elections is really starting to settle in. Seeing Nancy Pelosi sitting next to Cheney -- where Denny Hastert comfortably snoozed during past SOTUs -- really drove it home for me. (It was kind of like seeing white Gandalf sitting next to Sauran.) I wish I was in DC right now so I could finally get back at those bratty little Republican staffers who infested all the bars in Eastern Market back in '04 with their self satisfied smirks. (And I'd really like to find that schmuck from Raytheon I spent an hour going around and around with in Georgetown that one long night.) The true believers, all 28% of them, just can't admit their big hero is an abject failure whose leading them back into the political wilderness for another 40 years. I say, God speed George Bush, bring 'em on!

W.'s latest SOTU should be all the evidence anyone needs to prove that he's the lamest of lame ducks. Seriously, who does he think he is? What a joke. What I love the most is the fact that he thinks the Dems need to do what he says to show the public they're not partisan. As one GOP strategist quoted in the WaPo says (referring to his poll ratings), "When you're sitting at 35 [he's being a bit generous]and you're telling them what to do after they've won an election, they've got to chuckle." Someone ought to point out to him also that if he starts wielding his veto pen every time a law hits his desk that he doesn't like, he'll be the one accused of being the obstructionist.

I also love that there's as much talk about Jim Webb's rebuttal as there is about W.'s lame attempt to cling to relevancy. No one wants to hear about "finding our resolve to turn events toward victory," as the car bombs keep exploding and 29 more U.S. soldiers are dead. Jim Webb really cut through the crap and laid it on the table. He said what everyone wanted to hear and he managed to do it in about 9 minutes: "The President took us into a war recklessly. . . We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable -- and predicted -- disarray that has followed."

Bam! The truth for once! What more needs to be said? And either W. gets a clue and works with the Democratic majority to find a way out of this mess, or Congress will "be showing him the way." Because, once he's surged the last few troops we've got left to Iraq, he's going to be out of options. He may be the Decider in chief but he's not the boss of Jack Murtha. When W. sends his minions down to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue with their hands out they're going to hit a brick wall. Suddenly, W & Co. are going to have to explain where all the money is going and why the Army doesn't have any men left. Remember, Jack Murtha plans to play the readiness card.

And W. just shot the wad: AP reports that the head of the National Guard, Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, says "I am not as comfortable as some others seem to be in accepting the low readiness levels here at home. It creates a problem. It will cost us time and time will translate into lives." The WaPo reports that senior Army officers told reporters yesterday that: "All the Army's combat brigades -- except for the handful on alert or ready to go overseas in a month -- are currently rated as unready to deploy." Lt. Gen. Stephen Speaks, Army deputy chief of staff, says if there's another "combat scenario" requiring a large number of conventional forces, "that's where America is taking a risk."

But not to worry, didn't Maureen Dowd write in the NYT on the 13th that W.'s classmates at Yale said he was the "riskiest Risk player of them all." This 'ideological war' he's fighting is just a big board game to him. And W. is the kind of guy who just hates to lose. Gail Sheey wrote in Vanity Fair that "Even if he loses, his friend's say, he doesn't lose. He'll change the rules, or make his opponent play until he can beat them." This time around, however, I don't think Congress wants to play and he's not making the rules anymore. Tough old vets like Murtha and Webb aren't likely to knuckle under to a bully with a pedigree like a bunch of skinny New England blue-bloods might have.

This is some serious business and our people are dying. Lots of our people are dying. It's time for some adult supervision and a few trips out to the woodshed. This president sent our soldiers into harm's way under-equipped and with insufficient numbers to get the job done. Four years later he's planning to compound that error in judgment by sending more troops -- but again, not enough to get the job done -- on an ill defined mission with no exit strategy. On top of that he's leaving us vulnerable to attack by any country or stateless entity willing to gamble that we're not capable of taking on one more crisis.

If he does not yield to the will of Congress and the vast majority of the American people by immediately changing course, he and his vice-president should be removed from office for dereliction of duty. This isn't about politics anymore, this isn't about stains on blue dresses; this about this country's ability to defend itself. All congressmen and women took an oath to preserve and defend the constitution, not the leader of their political party. If they allow this president to play Risk with our national defense, they will be betraying their sacred duty to this great nation and endangering the lives of all its citizens.
hit counter script Top Blog Lists Favourite Blogs Top List
My Zimbio
Top Stories