Iraq

Lindsey Graham: Iraq And Syria ‘Coming Here’ To U.S. Mainland If Obama Doesn’t Go To War

Lindsey Graham: Iraq And Syria ‘Coming Here’ To U.S. Mainland If Obama Doesn’t Go To War:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned on Sunday that militants in Iraq and Syria would attack the U.S. mainland if President Barack Obama did not immediately take military action to stop them.

I guess we can assume that all those Republicans that called on Obama to attack ISIS will now rally around the president? Probably not.

Iraq, The GOP and Obama

If Iraq is stable a year after the end of the troop withdrawal, the GOP will credit Bush. If it falls apart, the GOP will blame Obama.

New evidence suggests Ron Suskind is right

That story begins during the final weeks of 2003, when everyone in the White House was suffering severe embarrassment over both the origins and the consequences of the invasion of Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. No evidence of significant connections between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the al-Qaida terrorist organization had been discovered there either. Nothing in this costly misadventure was turning out as advertised by the Bush administration.
According to Suskind, the administration’s highest officials — presumably meaning President Bush and Vice President Cheney — solved this problem by ordering the CIA to manufacture a document “proving” that Saddam had indeed been trying to build nuclear weapons and that he was also working with al-Qaida. The reported product of that order was a fake memorandum from Tahir Jalil Habbush, then chief of Saddam’s intelligence service, to the dictator himself, dated July 1, 2001. The memo not only explicitly confirmed that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had received training in Baghdad for “attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy” but also carefully noted the arrival of a “shipment” from Niger via Libya, presumably of uranium yellowcake, the sole export of that impoverished African country
From Salon.com | New evidence suggests Ron Suskind is right

What strikes me as really odd is the lumping together of two right-wing talking points in one memo. This is so unlikely that I wonder who came up with the bone headed idea. Why didn’t just lump in some anti-Clinton talking points and a call for a flat tax while they are at it.

Hired Gun Fetish

the so-called private security contractors are mercenaries. They’ re heavily armed. They carry out military missions, but they’ re private employees who don ’t answer to military discipline. On the other hand, they don’ t seem to be accountable to Iraqi or U.S. law, either. And they behave accordingly.
From Hired Gun Fetish - New York Times

Krugman describes exactly what the root problem with Blackwater is. If you aren’t totally sick of Iraq news or the Blackwater story, this is a must read

Spain Opens the Books on Bush?

But it seems someone in the Spanish government has leaked to El Pais transcripts of conversations between President Bush and then Spanish Prime Minister Aznar just before the outbreak of the Iraq War. The gist seems to be that Bush was rather candid about the fact that the efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis were a sham and that the war was a done deal.
From Talking Points Memo | Spain Opens the Books on Bush?

Pants on fire.

U.S. Weapons, Given to Iraqis, Move to Turkey

Weapons that were originally given to Iraqi security forces by the American military have been recovered over the past year by the authorities in Turkey after being used in violent crimes in that country, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
From U.S. Weapons, Given to Iraqis, Move to Turkey - New York Times

Remember that story about the missing weapons in Iraq? I think the Turks found some. This is blow-back in action. And it drives a wedge between us and the one friendly Muslim democracy on the planet.

Armored Trucks' Delivery Delayed

The United States military said Wednesday that it would deliver less than half the number of blast-resistant trucks to Iraq by year's end than planned.
A Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said 1,500 vehicles, rather than 3,500, would be delivered because of the time it takes to equip them with radios and armaments and then deliver them by sea. He said the Pentagon was now trying to cut that time to 30 days from 50.
From NYT

Three years into the insurgency and there is still a lag in getting the proper equipment. Sadly, it isn’t even on Waxman’s List.

Robots with guns in Iraq

Robots have been roaming the streets of Iraq, since shortly after the war began. Now, for the first time — the first time in any warzone — the machines are carrying guns.
From Danger Room - Wired Blogs

As much as I might appreciate the use of technology to help save the lives of our troops; I’ve always been concerned with the use of combat robots. My biggest concern is that it will further remove the soldiers from the populace. One has to wonder if it is really that much easier to kill by proxy than it is to stand there and see the flesh and blood person before firing. I think we need to start considering Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics.

Iraqi Says Turkey Is Massing 140,000 Troops

Turkey has massed 140,000 soldiers on its border with northern Iraq, Iraq’s foreign minister said Monday, calling the neighboring country’s fears of Kurdish rebels based there ”legitimate” but better resolved through negotiation.
From Iraqi Says Turkey Is Massing 140,000 Troops - New York Times

I didn’t think things could go worse. And now I think I may be wrong. What if a Turkish Surge is followed by an Iranian one? Things could get really bad really quick. The Daily Show graphic of Mess-O-Potamia comes to mind.

Lieberman Backs Limited U.S. Attacks on Iran

"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," Mr. Lieberman said in an interview on the CBS News program "Face the Nation."
This could be achieved mostly with air attacks, Mr. Lieberman said, adding, "I'm not talking about a massive ground invasion of Iran."
Lieberman Backs Limited U.S. Attacks on Iran - New York Times

Lieberman’s plan to improve the situation in Iraq is to open another front. Great idea. What could go wrong? And I really hope that Iran respects our decision to keep this military act limited. I would hate to think that Iran would get the wrong idea and think our bombing them should lead to an escalating conflict where they mobilize a couple hundred thousand troops to attack our troops and bases in Iraq or Afghanistan. And yes, I’m being sarcastic.

Doubts Grow as G.I.'s in Iraq Find Allies in Enemy Ranks

But now on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this past February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber's body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army.
"I thought, 'What are we doing here? Why are we still here?' " said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. "We're helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us."
From New York Times

So what are we doing there? And why do we think it will be worse if we leave? And this is just the tip of the misery iceberg of what’s going on there.

Billions in Oil Missing in Iraq

Between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels a day of Iraqa s declared oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for and could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling, according to a draft American government report.
From New York Times

We are fighting a war where the American taxpayer finances both sides of the conflict. One directly via taxes and one indirectly via fuel purchases. Sad fact of the day.

General: Air fleet wearing down

The Air Force’s fleet of warplanes is older than ever and wearing out faster because of heavy use in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the service’s top combat commander.
Gen. Ronald Keys, who leads the Air Combat Command, points to cracked wings on A-10 attack planes and frayed electrical cables on U-2 spy planes.
From USATODAY.com

This is a really disturbing story about the real costs of the Iraq war. While the degradation of the National Guard’s readiness is being covered in the media, the toll on aircraft seems to have slipped by barely noticed. This concerns me because the last two attacks on the US came via aircraft. Right after 9/11; the skies of the US were patrolled by NATO aircraft.

Those 11 GOP "moderates"

Every one of the 11 GOP “moderates” who privately warned Bush that the public wants out of the war actually voted against the House bill tying war funding to progress in Iraq.
From Talking Points Memo

Maybe I’m too much of a cynic. I can’t help but think those 11 moderates may be more concerned about re-election than the situation in Iraq.

Qaeda Is Seen as Restoring Leadership

American, European and Pakistani authorities have for months been piecing together a picture of the new leadership, based in part on evidence-gathering during terrorism investigations in the past two years. Particularly important have been interrogations of suspects and material evidence connected to a plot British and American investigators said they averted last summer to destroy multiple commercial airliners after takeoff from London.
From NYT

This should be a much bigger story. While we have been pouring blood and treasure into the Iraqi sand, Al Qaeda has been rebuilding. And nothing, not even a miraculous victory in Iraq is going to change that fact.

proof that we are stuck in someone else's war

Ms. Saadoun was a Sunni Arab living in a Shiite enclave of western Baghdad. A widowed mother of seven, she and her family had been chased out once before. This time, she called American and Kurdish soldiers at a base less than a mile to the east….
The next morning, Ms. Saadoun was shot dead while walking by a bakery in the local market.
From NYT

A must read article. What happened to Ms. Saadoun seems to be clear evidence that at least in some parts of the Iraq, our troops are stuck in between sides of a civil war. This is clearly not what their orders were. And this is clearly not a mission they should be charged with.

Democrats Seek Votes for Bill on Iraq

House Democrats were scrambling today to find the 218 votes needed to pass a war spending bill that would set a timetable to bring American troops home from Iraq, as the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans worked aggressively to foil their effort.
From Democrats Seek Votes for Bill on Iraq - New York Times

The inability to find the 218 votes is really disappointing. The war is unpopular. The president is unpopular. And Congress is unpopular because it hasn’t forced a change in Iraq strategy. The second complaint is over the volume of pork in that bill. Weren’t we promised a change in earmarking? What happened to that?

Londo Mollari on Iran?

The recent saber rattling with Iran has reminded of a quote from Londo Mollari of Babylon 5:

“Only a fool fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the kingdom of fools fights a war on twelve fronts!”

There are three classic military blunders.

  • Getting into a land war in Asia.
  • Opening a second front when the first front hasn’t been secured.
  • Going to war with with Italian Army on your side.
Bush went three for three.

Rep. Rangel's bill to reinstate the draft

WASHINGTON - Rep. Charles Rangel plans to resurrect a bill to reinstate the draft when Democrats take power in January, but the idea got a chilly reception yesterday in the heart of his Harlem district.
From New York Daily News - politics - Rangel feelin’ a draft

Last time he brought this up, Mr. Rangel joined 400 other congressmen to vote against it. And this will fail once more. Sorry, but this is just like Terri Schiavo. The absolute worst in partisan political grandstanding. If Mr. Rangel was really concerned with who is being sent off to war, there are better things to spend your time on. Start with looking at funding health care for reservists and their families. Or expanding money available funding educational benefits under the GI-Bill.

wing nut spin

I have two words for the wing-nuts that are claiming that America Rolls Over To Al-Qaeda or that Olberman and Bin Laden Are Celebrating: Please continue.

If the election shows us anything it is that linking a democratic victory to a victory for the terrorists isn’t working. Linking the fiasco in Iraq to Al-Qaeda isn’t working. So please continue wasting your breath on a failed tactic. At least until mid-November 2008.

A McCain-Lieberman ticket?

A Republican McCain-Lieberman ticket. Is that a fantasy? It strikes me as less improbable than the Kerry-McCain ticket MainStream Media reporters touted in 2004.
From USNews.com: Opinion: Michael Barone: Barone Blog: A McCain-Lieberman ticket?

Where to start. First, McCain was the favorite in the 1999 GOP nomination race. So much so that only one would dare to run against him. Remember how that turned out? So there is no guarentee that McCain would get the nod in the first place. The second problem with this idea can be summed by the this other quote:

a McCain-Lieberman ticket, however nonconservative on some issues, would be solidly committed to a vigorous prosecution of the war against terrorism. This issue unites the two of them as no other and so would help make that the central issue of the campaign. And an issue on which McCain-Lieberman would probably have a huge advantage over any possible Democratic ticket.

What unites McCain and Lieberman is not support for the War on Terrorism. It is support for the War in Iraq. A war of increasing costs in blood and treasure and decreasing support among voters. Running on support for the war in Iraq lost Lieberman the primary in 2006. Why on earth does anyone think that running on support for the war in Iraq will get anyone into the Whitehouse in 2008? As of now, a large and growing majority of Americans see the war in Iraq as a bungled occupation, not a front in the war on terror.

Marines killed civilians "in cold blood"

“Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood,” said Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam and is among the most influential Democratic voices on military matters. “This is going to be a very, very bad thing for the United States.”
From Salon.com News

Really sad story here. I have a lot of sympathy for troops in Iraq. They’re in a really tough fight made worse by failures of the civilian leadership. And this is yet another tragic incident that will serve as propaganda by the Islamists.

Hitchens Jumps Shark

It was from Niger that Iraq had originally acquired uranium in 1981, as confirmed in the Duelfer Report. In order to take the Joseph Wilson view of this Baathist ambassadorial initiative, you have to be able to believe that Saddam Hussein’s long-term main man on nuclear issues was in Niger to talk about something other than the obvious.
From Wowie Zahawie By Christopher Hitchens

I think Mr. Hitchens needs to re-read Wilson’s Op-Ed.

Given the structure of the consortiums that operated the mines, it would be exceedingly difficult for Niger to transfer uranium to Iraq. Niger’s uranium business consists of two mines, Somair and Cominak, which are run by French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Nigerian interests. If the government wanted to remove uranium from a mine, it would have to notify the consortium, which in turn is strictly monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Moreover, because the two mines are closely regulated, quasi-governmental entities, selling uranium would require the approval of the minister of mines, the prime minister and probably the president. In short, there’s simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired.
The question shouldn’t be, Did Saddam want atomic weapons?. Of course he did. I’m sure he wanted Stealth Bombers, Cyberdyne T-800 Terminator Cyborgs and a Death Star too. But he was in no position to acquire any of those weapons. Second, Wilson's mission was to determine whether the memorandum claiming there was a bill of sale between Niger and Iraq for yellowcake was true. And it was neither true nor likely. So if Mr Hitchens wants us all to admit that Saddam wanted atomic weapons, I’m willing to concede that point. I’m sure there is a long list of despots that same point can be made about.

I participated in a hoax on the American people

I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community and the United Nations Security Council. How do you think that makes me feel? Thirty-one years in the United States Army and I more or less end my career with that kind of a blot on my record? That’s not a very comforting thing.
From NOW. Politics & Economy. Iraq Pre-War Intelligence. Lawrence Wilkerson | PBS

Now that he has come out an admitted that the case for the Iraq war was false, I wonder how long it will take before the GOPers try to swiftboat him. This man is not some lefty crackpot. Nor was he some low level staffer. He was there when the planning was going on and he admits that he participated in a hoax. I’m sure he is already on Rove’s blacklist.

Al-Qaida Is Losing says Hitchens

The conditions for this latest truce are of course impossible as well. All one needs, in order to earn Bin Laden’s mercy, is to give up Afghanistan and Iraq. But this raises a more intriguing question. Why are formerly triumphalist jihadists using the language of “truce” at all? Not very long ago, God was claimed to be on their side and victory certain.
From Slate

While Mr. Hitchens makes a number of really good points, I have two retorts. First, just because things may be going bad for the jihadists; that doesn’t mean things are going well for us. Secondly, considering point one; there is no reason why things going poorly for either the US and/or the jihadists couldn’t translate into things going very well for Iran or Hammas. And that would be also be bad for us.

Rick "bumpersticker" Santorum

What I’m asking all of you tonight is not to put on a uniform. Put on a bumper sticker. Is it that much to ask? Is it that much to ask to step up and serve your country
From Salon

If Sen. Santorum wants to support our troops, here is a list of things he; as a member of the Senate could do:

If for some reason, your expression of patriotism is limited to adhesive vinyl stickers, please consider stepping down and endorsing either Bob Casey or Chuck Pennacchio to do the job you can not.

US Abandons Iraqi Reconstruction

White House to Withdraw Funding for Rebuilding Iraq
By Andrew Gumbel
The Independent UK

Wednesday 03 January 2006

The US government is not planning to continue funding reconstruction projects in Iraq, in what appears to be a major climbdown from the White House’s one-time pledge to build the best infrastructure in the region.
According to officials cited in yesterday’s Washington Post, the Bush administration will not be adding construction funds to the $18.4bn (10.7bn) it has allocated since the 2003 invasion.
t r u t h o u t - US Abandons Iraqi Reconstruction

Well, so much for that stay the course crap. I can’t wait to see how the GOPers spin this as something other than a prelude to cutting and running. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that the White house has some sort of exit strategy in mind. Though it would be nice if they were honest and up front about this.

The top ten myths about Iraq in 2005

Juan Cole, one of the most incisive analysts of the situation in Iraq, lists the top ten myths about that country that he sees promulgated in the U.S. media. Cole is a fierce critic of the war and the administration that is waging it, but he’s also a nuanced thinker who challenges conventional wisdom on all sides. Here are the myths he debunks — check out his blog for his explanations.
From Juan Cole, by way of Salon

a few words on Iraq

This post by blogenlust makes me wonder if Osama issues red shirts to his number three men.

The American approach shows little sense of Middle Eastern history and politics. As one prominent Kuwaiti academic explained to me, in the Muslim world the best way to deal with your enemies has always been to assimilate them - you never succeed in killing them all, and by trying to do so you just make more enemies. Instead, you must woo them to rejoin society and the government. Military pressure should be used in a calibrated way, to help in the wooing.
From a NYT Op-Ed by Wesley Clark

My view on the current situation is that it is lost. We simply can not win. The sole reason why we can not win is the total lack of a defined condition for winning. Right wing slogans like stay the course and finishing the job, absent a description of the course or a list of tasks associated with said job; are nothing more than excuses for open ended occupation. What we on the left want is a plan. We want the Administration to explain what we can expect to accomplish and what the plan to accomplish it is and when we can expect the troops to finish that job and come home.

We don’t want to give Bush more blank checks and excuse him from goals and metrics that would actually measure progress to those stated goals. Somehow the right has twisted that to mean cut and run.

this time, someone really does have to be fired.

This time, someone really does have to be fired. The revelation that Defense Department money, not even authorized by Congress for the purpose, has been outsourced to private interests and then used to plant stories in the Iraqi press is much more of a disgrace and a scandal than anyone seems so far to have said.
Well said.
It is, anyway, not so much a matter of fooling people as of insulting them. The prostitute journalist is a familiar and well-understood figure in the Middle East, and Saddam Hussein’s regime made lavish use of the buyability of the regional press.
Today, Hitchens reminds me why I read his work. I still disagree with him on almost everything else about Iraq, but he is dead on about this.

making hay from straw-men

Washington is suddenly convulsed by a debate that should have taken place three years ago, and the sleeping giant known as the American public is finally awakening to the deceptions that led to war. Emotion, instinct, and other proclivities may be the driving force behind support or opposition for war, but reason and logic are the means by which we try to prove the correctness of our views.
Peter Daou of Salon lists Ten Pro-War Fallacies

Occam's toothrush

What do you have to believe in order to keep alive your conviction that the Bush administration conspired to launch a lie-based war?
Normally I really like reading Christopher Hitchens but this recent article is just so bad I had to spew a little venom. What are the problems:
as that which arose from the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, during the Clinton-Gore administration, in 1998. That legislation-which passed the Senate without a dissenting vote-did expressly call for the removal of Saddam Hussein but did not actually mention the use of direct U.S. military force.
While that is true, it ignores the fact that the ILA was drafted by PNAC a think tank that later formed the core of the Bush43 foreign policy and military apparatus. Odd that he would leave that out. Well not that odd when you consider that is invalidates much of his claims.
In 1998, following marked Iraqi unwillingness to co-operate with UN weapons inspections, members of the PNAC including Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz wrote to the president, Bill Clinton, urging him to remove Saddam Hussein from power using US diplomatic, political and military power. The letter argued that Saddam would pose a threat to the U.S., its Middle-East allies and oil resources in the region if he succeeded in obtaining Weapons of Mass Destruction. The letter also stated “American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.” The letter argues that an Iraq war would be justified by Saddam Hussein’s defiance of UN “containment” policy and his persistent threat to U.S. interests.
From wikipedia; externally sourced. Recognize those names? Both Rummy and Wolfy were involved with the PNAC, the ILA and were senior members of the civilian military oversight for Bush43. So why is Mr. Chalabi needed to believe that Bush lied us into war? Mr. Hitchens seems to have missed the targets the critics of the war are pointing to.
the INC was able to manipulate the combined intelligence services of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as the CIA, the DIA, and the NSA, who between them employ perhaps 1.4 million people, and who in the American case dispose of an intelligence budget of $44 billion, with only a handful of Iraqi defectors and an operating budget of $320,000 per month. That’s what you have to believe.
No you don’t. Mr. Hitchens builds this little straw man and I have yet to hear anyone suggest the fault of the bad Intel comes from the INC. And Mr. Hitchens ignores the revelations that come from the Downing Street Memo which suggest that the Intel was being fixed to the cause or going to war.

The part of Hitchens’ straw man that really gets me is that it fails to identify the people who are making these supposed claims that the INC fooled us all. The referenced WaPo article by Mr. Pincus doesn’t even mention Chalabi. So who are these lefties blaming the INC? He argument might actually have merit if he listed them.

Pat Tillman

War hero Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan last year, believed the US war on Iraq was “f***ing illegal” and counted Noam Chomsky among his favorite authors.

Must read story from The Nation. The right wing hasn’t come up with its spin yet, so they are just claiming to know Tillman more than his Mother and war buddies.

christopher hitchens on imperialism

Christopher Hitchens is a right wing pundit that annoys me to no end. Not because his arguments are flawed, but because they are so well thought out and so damn convincing. Case in point

East Timor was for many years, and quite rightly, a signature cause of the Noam Chomsky “left.” The near-genocide of its people is an eternal stain on Indonesia and on the Western states that were complicit or silent. Yet Bin Ladenism wants not less of this killing and repression but more. Its demand to re-establish the caliphate is a pro-imperialist demand, not an anti-imperialist one.

His argument is that the al-Qaida goal of the re-establishment of the caliphate is, at its core, imperialist in nature. This is intriguing to say the least. In addition, it does more to explain why al-Qaida support comes not from the poorest in the Arab world, but the middle class. But I am still not sure that western imperialism isn’t a factor in the rise of Caliphate imperialism. Why would this be a zero-sum game? Why wouldn’t western imperialism convince otherwise neutral Muslims of the need for an Islamist empire?