Closing Thought–20Mar18

15 years ago we went to war with Saddam in Iraq and after winning the war we fucked up the peace and allowed the insurgency turn into ISIS and as they say the rest is history.

I have been a critic of our policies about the Middle East….but I will put my opinions aside and let some other opinions come to the forefront…..

The Cipher Brief asked its experts in the intelligence, diplomatic and military to assess the war’s impact. Their conversations are adapted for print below.

Rob Richer, former chief of CIA’s clandestine operations in the Middle East and South Asia, during the Iraq war

In the most basic of assessments, we accomplished our tactical goal of removing Saddam from power. In retrospect, and based on the comments of senior Iraqi officials from Saddam’s regime, the United Nations sanctions were being felt and, in their words, capitulation to full UN inspections and other International demands was not far away.

Then there is “Curveball” the intel asset that was used to start and justify the invasion of Iraq……

As US secretary of state, Colin Powell gathered his notes in front of the United Nations security council, the man watching — Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known to the west’s intelligence services as “Curveball” — had more than an inkling of what was to come. He was, after all, Powell’s main source, a man his German handlers had feted as a new “Deep throat” — an agent so pivotal that he could bring down a government.

As Curveball watched Powell make the US case to invade Iraq, he was hiding an admission that he has not made until now: that nearly every word he had told his interrogators from Germany’s secret service, the BND, was a lie.

15 years and NO end in sight…..

We were always caught in the middle. We still are. As a young man, a new lieutenant, and a true believer, I once led a US Army scout platoon just south of Baghdad. It was autumn 2006, and my platoon patrolled – mainly aimlessly – through the streets and surrounding fields of Salman Pak. To our north lay the vast Shia heartland of East Baghdad, to our south and east, the disgruntled and recently disempowered Sunnis of the rural hinterlands. Both sides executed teenagers caught on the wrong side of town, leaving the bodies for us to find. Each side sought to win American favor; both ation of Iraqried to kill us.

Most Americans know now that they were lied to to gain support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq….after all that in what shape is the country?

How many young Americans need to die or be maimed before we call the situation and bring our troops home?


Time For A Revisit 1973

My regulars know that I cannot let the fact that we are still fighting wars started before my granddaughter was born and she is 15 now…..and I do harp on the conflicts a bit much but since few people see the necessity to keep these wars in the minds of our people I feel that I must do so.  And yes I am anti-war and hope that if people see what is happening to our country and our military they too will see the need to end all this intervention for the sake of intervention.

Let’s start with 1973.

The year before the resignation of Nixon……so what could be so important that we should revisit that year?

The War Powers Act……..Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in 1973, it did so to reestablish procedures for Congress and the president to share responsibility for the introduction of armed forces into foreign conflicts. By explicitly limiting the executive’s prerogative to initiate or escalate military actions, the act affirmed that such power rests with Congress. The founders assigned Congress this most important authority to ensure solemn debate and prevent the kinds of foreign policy disasters that plagued European monarchies.

I have bitched in the past about the fact that the Congress needs to step up ans exercise their power by re-defining the AUMF…….the Congress has been wimping out for decades and that we are fighting a conflict on most continents maybe now would be a good time to revisit the War Powers Resolution of 1973……..

The ongoing hostilities in Yemen are just the sort of conflict the founders meant to avoid. The Saudi monarchy’s war has become a foreign policy debacle for the United States, and hell-on-earth for the Yemenis. Indeed, the cholera crisis now facing the country is the worst in recorded history.

Yemen’s deteriorating circumstances offer Congress an opportunity to reclaim its constitutional mandate and help resolve a humanitarian catastrophe by demanding deliberation viz. material and logistical support for Saudi’s war of attrition.

The US Congress is staffed with cowards….they are afraid to do anything at all for it may piss off someone and it might cost them votes or worse…….. donations.

War after war is the future as long as the Congress refuses to act…….costing this country massive amounts of cash and the lives of our citizens……

When will enough be enough for the American people?

World War One–A ‘What If’

2018 is the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War One, the Great War……come November the celebration on Veterans Day….eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…..

This war does not mean as much to Americans as it does to Europeans but the after effects were for everyone….it gave the US its standing as a world leader……but a what if here….Germany had won WW1….

People who see a divine hand or the iron laws of dialectical materialism at work in human affairs bridle at the question: “What if things had turned out differently?” To EH Carr, historian of Soviet Russia, to speak of what might have happened in history, as opposed to what did happen, was just a “parlour game”. To EP Thompson, author of The Making of the English Working Class, such counterfactual speculation was “unhistorical shit”.

Other historians have confessed to being more intrigued. “The historian must constantly put himself at a point in the past at which the known factors will seem to permit different outcomes,” wrote Johan Huizinga. It is important to recognise that, at any moment in history, there are real alternatives, argued Hugh Trevor-Roper.

These ‘what ifs’ are interesting…like what if the institute that Hitler had applied to had accepted his application….would WW2 have happened?  Or if a baseball team had signed Castro would he had lead the Cuban revolution?

‘What Ifs’ are fun for historians to play with….and fun for me to write about…..

Explain Niger, Please

When I was in the hospital in October of 2017 and had my toes removed for good measures I wrote about the deaths of Americans in the West African nation of Niger…..and wrote several other posts about the event and the American deaths…..

In October, the ambush that led to the death of four US special forces revealed that US forces were operating in Niger in large numbers. The Pentagon hasn’t gotten any better with transparency, however, as in December, the US got into another battle in Niger, and it was never disclosed publicly.

The December 6 Niger battle, according to reports, saw US Green Berets and Nigerien military engaged in a protracted gunbattle that left 11 suspected ISIS fighters killed. There were no US casualties, so the Pentagon never reported it.

Well it seems that all is not as together as the Pentagon would have us to believe…….

 The Pentagon, already struggling to manage growing concern about the US military operations ongoing in Africa, is now facing a second problem. Last week, it was revealed that the Pentagon had kept a number of recent clashes in Niger a secret.

Pentagon officials are now trying to defend not just the war effort, but the idea of keeping most of the details of the war effort in Niger from the public. Unsurprisingly, they’re trying to present this chiefly as keeping the details secret from the enemy.

“They learn a great deal from information he put out. They don’t deserve a report card,” insisted Pentagon spokesperson Dana White. Other officials insisted all the fighting and all the secrecy about the fighting were totally appropriate.

Niger is a mess and let’s not forget the problems we are having in Mali, another West African country….

Apparently AFRICOM is a screwed up mess that few want to correct…..West Africa is a hot bed that needs proper command…..but something it does not appear to be getting….American deaths are mounting even Americans killing Americans….

My Lai–50 Years On

Closing Thought–16Mar18

Your Daily History Lesson…….

When I was teaching class at university I asked my class to find Vietnam on a map….15 students…..14 wrong answers….the only correct was a vet of that war… their defense they did not know the name Arafat or Begin…..I would bet that it is not much better these days of the information revolution.

How many people remember a Lt. named Calley?  How many remember a town named My Lai?

When I ask a class of college students how many have heard of My Lai, only a few if any raise their hands, tentatively. Even they are unsure what it was, or where, or when, or who was involved. Why have we forgotten the nadir of the Vietnam War? Is our collective amnesia accidental or willful?

March 16 marks the 50th anniversary of the date that does not live in infamy. Does it for any Americans? In 1968, American soldiers slaughtered animals, raped villagers, and murdered 109 “Oriental human beings” in My Lai. That was the number cited in a court-martial 18 months later.

Today is the 50th year anniversary of the massacre……

Americans, including GIs, were losing their once reflexive faith that the U.S. military, with all its skill and firepower, would prevail in Vietnam as it had so often throughout history. Also shattered was the faith that America’s fighting forces were inherently more virtuous than their enemies. The unraveling of that conviction began in earnest in 1969 with the revelation that American soldiers had murdered hundreds of unarmed and unresisting women, children, babies, and old men in the village of My Lai.

For many people, the shocking news came first in the form of several horrifying photographs. One shows almost two dozen dead Vietnamese bodies on a dirt road. Many have fallen in a twisted pile; some are partially naked. Another photograph shows a woman lying in a field with her legs drawn up under her body. Her conical straw hat has flipped off her head. If you look closely you can notice that a large portion of her brain lies exposed beneath the hat.

To be fair……we must hear from the people that were there….the survivors…..

It was the sweet potato harvest season, so Ha Thi Quy woke up early to find a good spot in the village to dry slices of the delicately flavored tuber to sell.

She noticed some American soldiers in the village, but that didn’t alarm her.

“There are no Vietnamese troops here, so why should they start shooting?” Quy recalled her self-assurance in a bitter question that she still has not found the answer to……

Scars of war are the worse to bear…..

I begin my weekend…..lost in memories to times long ago…..chuq

Are The Generals Failing Our Troops?

I will not lie to my readers….I am an anti-war proponent and have been so since the 1970’s….I see our military personnel being pushed to their limits by the multiple deployments and the multiple wars been fought and to what aim?

In the past generals have gone to the president and told him what needed to be done and what wars we needed to fight….those days are gone with the promise of cushy jobs awaiting the generals upon retirement….

We need generals with a backbone that cares more about the troops than his retirement……

September 2006. Iraq was falling apart. Nearly 100 American troops were being killed a month. The war seemed hopeless, unwinnable (because it ultimately was). So the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Peter Pace, convened a “council of colonels’ – purportedly some of the brightest minds in the military – to recommend new policies. Only three, reportedly, had any combat experience in Iraq, but still, these guys were sharp. The group debated endlessly and eventually reached an impasse. They had three separate proposals and the group generally divided along service lines. Some Air Force and Navy guys wanted a phased withdrawal – the “Go Home” option – but their ideas were promptly dismissed. Other (mostly army and marine officers) wanted to “engage in prolonged conflict – the “Go Long” option. Finally, the most prominent army officers – including America’s current National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster – wanted to “Go Big” and heavily reinforce the troops in Iraq with a “surge.” You can guess which side won out.

George W. Bush liked the can-do optimism of the “surge” team and doubled down. Violence briefly dropped, a couple thousand more American troops died, and the military promptly declared victory. We’re still dealing with the fallout.

We need generals that will do what is needed to keep the country from fighting unnecessary wars ….wars of profit……

Yes we now have entered into a time of perpetual wars…….the costs of these wars have made the country less safe and a falling apart infrastructure……

I’m in my mid-thirties, which means that, after the 9/11 attacks, when this country went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq in what President George W. Bush called the “Global War on Terror,” I was still in college. I remember taking part in a couple of campus antiwar demonstrations and, while working as a waitress in 2003, being upset by customers who ordered “freedom fries,” not “French fries,” to protest France’s opposition to our war in Iraq. (As it happens, my mother is French, so it felt like a double insult.) For years, like many Americans, that was about all the thought I put into the war on terror. But one career choice led to another and today I’m co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

Our generals should remember the old slogan from the 70’s…..”War  is good business….Invest your children”……

Iran In The Cross Hairs

We have a new SecState…..Tillerson is out and warmonger Pompeo is in….when he was in Congress he was a “Attack Iran Hawk” and now that he is at State I expect that his advice will be well received by a president that has no idea what an attack on Iran will mean.

For all the reasons to be concerned about President Trump’s nomination of current CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, experts on Tuesday warn that an increase risk of a U.S.-initiated war with Iran should be at the top of the list.

In a reaction on Tuesday, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), worried openly that Trump’s nomination of Pompeo “could have profound implications for the fate of the Iran nuclear deal and the prospect of a new war in the Middle East.”

Jon Rainwater, executive director of Peace Action, also expressed grave concerns. “By tapping Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State,” said Rainwater, “Trump is handing over the reigns of U.S. diplomacy to one of the most hawkish members of his administration. For all of Tillerson’s flaws, he served as a check on Trump’s more hawkish positions. With Pompeo, Trump’s worst instincts on Iran and North Korea will be reinforced.”

Every expert says that the deal with Iran is not perfect but a good deal…the people that do not like the deal would not like any deal and most have NO idea what is in the existing deal anyway.