Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | August 26, 2002

Once upon a time in the playground...

This cartoon strip is making the rounds on the Net. Simply brilliant. Click on image to enlarge.

    07:34 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

Bush afraid of Congress

The Bush Administration has ignored calls to build support for the invasion of Iraq at the UN Security Council. The reasons are obvious -- the US would be hard pressed to pick up a couple of votes, much less the full support of the council.

For the same reasons, the administration is now trying to claim it doesn't need Congressional approval to invade Iraq.

If Bush felt confident he had the votes, he wouldn't be trying to shirk his duties. Congress is the only national branch of government currently occupied by elected officials (Bush and the Supremes were all selected). As such, Congress is the only branch with the moral authority to commit our youth to possible death. Yet in another example of Bush's disdain for democracy, he's hiding behind his legal team's vapid opinions.

The gist: the 1991 Gulf War resolution and the 9-11 resolution give the president all the authority he needs.

Many observers believe Congress would likely pass a Gulf War II resolution, but with restrictions unpalatable to Bush. For example, the resolution could prohibit a strategy of "regime change," limiting US forces to eliminating Iraq's WMD. There's something to this theory.

If Bush were confident he had the votes to endorse his strategy of "regime change", he wouldn't be performing legal gymnastics to avoid facing a potentially hostile Congress. And the dangers to the nation are real, as one Yale law professors points out:

The constitutional structure tries to make war hard to get into, so the president has to show leadership and make his case to the elected representatives. This argument [avoiding Congressional authorization] may permit them to get us into the war, but it won't give them the political support at home and abroad to sustain that effort.

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Sunday | August 25, 2002

DeLay grasping at straws

Tom DeLay made an impassioned defense of war mongering on Fox News Sunday. Following on the heels of Wednesday performance, when he called war critics "appeasers", DeLay now thinks Bush has some kind of "spider sense":

I hope Americans all over the country will start speaking out. The president instinctively knows what needs to be done here.
Setting aside DeLay's faith in the president's instincts -- instincts that have brought us economic malaise, deficits, and the collapse of confidence in corporate America, DeLay is completely off the mark.
  1. I feel very comfortable about going in because if you look at the Gulf War as an example, tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers immediately surrendered.

    Iraqi troops did engage in mass surrender in the Gulf War. However, they had no interest in giving their lives in order to defend their invasion of Kuwait. They were never called upon to defend their country, Iraq, from foreign invaders.

    Thus, there is no guarantee Iraqi troops will engage in mass surrenders a second time around. Indeed, their morale should be boosted by the fact their new tactics will even the playing field a great deal. (See this old post for an examination of Saddam's new urban guerilla tactics. And this one.) We can certainly assume that Saddam won't leave his troops in the desert, exposed to US airpower, any more.

  2. They don't want to lose their lives in support of this evil man. I have every expectation that you'll see a huge surrenders of troops, including his most elite troops, as soon as we start moving.

    Iraqi soldiers wouldn't be defending the "evil man" Saddam, they would be defending their nation. That could make all the difference.

    If US strategy is predicated on the mass surrender of Iraqi troops, no wonder the Pentagon is worried. The US so outclassed the Iraqis in the dessert, that they had no choice but to surrender. US airpower, artillery and armor will be next-to-useless in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. This will be an infantry war, and the AK-47 matches up nicely to an M-16.

  3. But the point is that I believe in President Bush's leadership. I believe that he knows how to go in there and get Saddam Hussein and I'm going to support him in that and I'm going to help the House of Representatives understand that.

    Funny how the Chickenhawks have all the faith in Bush's leadership, while the veterans and current military leadership do not. And in the international arena, the US stands alone in its stated goal of "regime change".

  4. The question is not whether to go to war, for war already has been thrust upon us.

    Iraq has done nothing to instigate Bush's insistence on war. It has not posed a credible threat to its neighbors in over a decade, has not threatened the use of any WMD it may have, and has not gassed anyone for over two decades (and when it did, it was with US acquiescence).

    The no-fly zone has effectively contained Saddam -- protecting minority groups in the northern and southern parts of the country. Any notion of protecting Iraq's neighbors is silly, considering that none of Saddam's neighbors feel particularly threatened. In short, NOTHING has changed in the past year that would indicate that "war has been thrust upon us".

    That is, nothing except the 2000 selection of Dubyah.

  5. Every generation must summon the courage to disregard the timid counsel of those who would mortgage our security to the false promises of wishful thinking and appeasement.

    When all else fails, summon the ghosts of Nazi Germany. Only difference, Axis armies were marching across Europe and Africa while Western powers stood idly by:

    In 1935, Germany takes French-occupied Rhineland. There was no international outcry.

    In 1936, Italy invaded Ethiopia. Ethiopia appealed to the League of Nations: "It is us today. It will be you tomorrow". The League of Nations imposed weak sanctions on the Italians but scrapped them soon thereafter.

    In 1938, the Munich Pact was signed, ceding four Sudeten Czech districts to the Germans. The transition was overseen by western powers.

    In March 1939, Hitler violated the Munich Pact by conquering the remaining parts of Czechoslovakia.

    In September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland.

    I would love to see how the Iraqi status quo is anything like the WWII policy of appeasement.

        11:12 AM | Link | Comments (1) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Friday | August 23, 2002

    Public's support for Iraq war plummets

    Slightly more than half of Americans support going to war against Iraq, a drop of 8 points from two months ago. However, even more significantly, the number drops to 40 percent if combat troops will be in Iraq longer than a year (a decade would probably be most accurate), and just 20 percent support an invasion Bush-style -- without any support from our Western allies.

    While Bush's team maintains the fantasy that Britain would automatically back the US, signals from the Blair administration suggest otherwise, hinting broadly that reintroducing weapons inspectors would negate British support for war:

    "If Saddam Hussein allows weapons inspectors back without condition, without restriction on them, if they're able to do their job properly, then the circumstances will change," [UK] foreign secretary [Jack Welsh] told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
    Back home, the voices rising up against war continue to increase. Chris Mathews, in one of his usual hyperbolic opinion columns, argues against war:
    This invasion of Iraq, if it goes off, will join the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Desert One, Beirut and Somalia in the history of U.S. military catastrophes. What will set it apart for all time is the immense - and transparent - political stupidity.
    I don't know if an Iraq invasion would be the military catastrophe Mathews argues. I think the U.S. is more than able to handle Iraq militarily. The important questions are whether we are 1) willing to suffer the inevitable casualties from urban warfare, and 2) whether the US wants to evolve into a belligerent, offensive, first-strike nation (thus encouraging nations to acquire WMD as a deterrent against US attack). But regardless, an irrational shrill voice against war still makes more sense than one calling for Gulf War II.

    Former secretaries of state Lawrence Eagleburger and Madeleine Albright are also counseling against war. Albright might not be a big surprise. She is an intelligent, sane, rational human being, with a keen understanding of the responsibility of being a good international citizen. Eagleburger is more significant, as he served under Bush I and is still a good, loyal Republican.

    Interestingly enough, this "debate" has been pretty one-sided lately, with very few people willing to stand up for war (other than Perle's "We need to kill to protect Bush's reputation"). Expect public support for war to continue to erode as more and more prominent Republicans (and a few Democrats) make strong and persuasive arguments against the invasion.

        08:06 AM | Link | Comments (2) | Email this post | Trackback (1)

    Thursday | August 22, 2002

    War doesn't equal electoral success

    The information below is from a reader comment, but I thought it highly enlightening, and worthy of main-page exposure:

    (demtom): For reasons unknown, people persist in believing high war ratings provide an electoral boost for the president's party. There is NO evidence to support this, at least since the Spanish American war. Consider this:

    1918 -- Election Day comes a few days before the Armistice. Democrats lose Congress. Two years later, they lose the presidency.

    1942 -- 11 months after Pearl Harbor, FDR's numbers are in Shrub-range. Dems get clobbered in the midterms, losing 50 seats in the House and c. double-digits in the Senate (Arthur Schlesinger pointed this out last Fall, urging those suddenly dropping out Dem candidates to reconsider)

    1944 -- Probably the best wartime election of the 20th century, but 1) the timing was perfect (war still on but victory more or less assured); 2) Dems made only minor gains, compared to the losses of '42; and 3) FDR was re-elected by his SMALLEST margin ever.

    1946 -- First post-war election: Dems lose both houses.

    And those were our big victories.

    1952 -- Korea stalemate; Ike beats Adlai, and Dems lose both houses.

    1966 -- Vietnam just underway. Dems lose more House seats than they'd won in the Johnson landslide. Two years later, they lose the presidency.

    1992 -- We know what happened after the great Gulf War victory.

    And I assume most people know what happened to Churchill within weeks of VE Day.

    Why do people cling to this "war trumps everything" delusion? Was Wag the Dog that influential a movie?

        08:19 AM | Link | Comments (1) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Wednesday | August 21, 2002

    Iraq story won't distract from economy

    Democrats have sounded alarmed lately about the Iraq debate, worried that it will distract from the economy come election time. Let's assume the Iraq story, even without an actual honest-to-goodness invasion, still has legs. That's not necessarily a given, considering the press' short attention span. But let's make that assumption.

    Would the American public

    1. be so distracted by the war talk that it would forget the nation's dire economic straits? and

    2. would voters respond to said war talk by voting GOP?

    Let's think about this. Nov 4, 2001. The US had just been viciously hit by a terrorist attack. Emotions were running high, Bush had approval ratings in the high 90s, and the nation was gearing up for a real, JUSTIFIED war. Given those facts, it would stand to reason that the voters would have rallied behind the president's party. Yet, the exact opposite happened.

    The Dems picked up two previously GOP governorships, in NJ and heavily Republican Virginia. They also captured over a dozen mayorships from the GOP in some of the nation's largest cities (including LA, San Antonio and El Paso), as well as two state legislatures (NJ and WA). The Dems did not lose a single office they controlled. Indeed, the only race of national import Republicans were able to win was the NYC mayor's office, and Bloomberg ran and governed to the left of Giuliani.

    All this less than two months after 9-11.

    So, even while the nation rallied around the president, pocketbook issues dominated the 2001 elections, and nothing indicates 2002 will be any different. Indeed, 2001 was pre-Enron, Halliburton, Harken, WorldCom, and stock market crash. There are more unemployed and underemployed now than in 2001. More people think the country is headed in the wrong direction now than in November 2001.

    And, the president's veneer of competence wore off months ago (along with his high approval ratings). So much for any presidential coattails.

    Fact is, while Democrats have been AWOL in the national debate on Iraq, their absence has immunized them against charges of being weak on terrorism. On the question of Gulf War II, there is less differentiation between Bush and the Democrats than between Bush and the more rational half of his party.

    And if bombs start flying prior to the first Tuesday in November? It would make no difference. The economy will trump all. Undoubtedly.

        09:15 PM | Link | Comments (1) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Chickenhawks push war

    I served in the US Army, 1989-1992, as an artilleryman for an MLRS battalion (it's a deadly rocket system). My time in the service was dominated by the Gulf War. My unit never deployed -- our equipment was waiting for us in Saudi Arabia, but the war ended too quickly -- but we spent over a year training for desert warfare (including hideous chemical war training).

    As some of you may remember, there was a five-month buildup before the air war started, and another three months or so before ground troops entered Kuwait and Iraq. That was a long time for me and my uniformed colleagues to dwell on our mortality. To wonder whether we would still exist a year later. We had difficulty communicating with our friends and family back in the 'real world'. They couldn't relate to what we were going through.

    Make no mistake. We were ready to serve. In fact, we were eager to put our training into action, but we couldn't mask our fears. War is dangerous business, and death is final. It is impossible for non-veterans to fully understand. A good soldier will do his or her duty, but it's a heavy burden and should not be imposed lightly. Not only does war kill, but it destroys families, and scars survivors. Thus, war is ultimately a tool of last resort, to be used when the cause is just and all other options have been exhausted.

    But the fools in our country's governing junta see things differently. For them, war is a political tool, to be wielded when expedient. It's no surprise that almost none of the "invade Iraq" cabal have served: Bush, Cheney, DeLay, Wolfowitz, Perle, Fleischer, Rice, Barnes, Hannity, Kristol, Lieberman, and the master tactician himself -- Rove (Rumsfeld is the exception).

    On the other hand, the veteran contingent in both parties have led the anti-war effort -- Powell, Hagel, Kerry (MA), Scowcraft, Schwarzkopf, Clark, and the entire uniformed cadre at the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Armey is the exception). This is significant.

    As Perle has said, this war is no longer about achieving any notable strategic considerations. It's no longer a military campaign. It's a political effort, all about saving face:

    "The failure to take on Saddam after what the president said would produce such a collapse of confidence in the president that it would set back the war on terrorism.
    Frank Rick wrote in the NY Times:
    If Mr. Bush doesn't get rid of Saddam after all this saber rattling, he will look like the biggest wimp since -- well, his father.
    As the vast majority of the Bush Administration's veteran contingent have determined, saving Bush from his own overheated rhetoric can't justify the death of a single US servicemember. The rest of the world is also uninterested in sacrificing its youth to Bush's 'credibility campaign'. (Canada is out, as is Bahrain, home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.)

    There have been some indications Bush might be looking to back down, but every step back has been followed by two steps forward. As one analyst put it:

    "They have invested so much political capital in the claim that they are going to get him (Saddam Hussein) that it does become a self-fulfilling commitment.

    The real issue becomes that we would lose face. So we'll go to war, we'll slaughter however many thousands of Iraqis and put at risk however many young American men and women GIs because somebody doesn't want to lose face.

    Update: In a just-published column, Maureen Dowd touches upon the Chickenhawk arguments I made above. Her version is much more effective, but that's why she makes the big bucks.

        08:55 AM | Link | Comments (3) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Monday | August 19, 2002

    War momentum fizzling

    Not a single high-ranking military man has yet to publicly support an invasion of Iraq. Former NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark is the latest to counsel against Gulf War II.

    Clark joins Powell, Schwarzkopf, and the current Joint Chiefs of Staff as opposing an Iraq invasion on both diplomatic and military grounds. Furthermore, prominent Republicans such as Kissinger, Armey, Hagel and others are leading the charge against an unecessary and costly war.

    There has been speculation that these Republicans are giving Bush political cover for a withdrawl -- having talked war for so long, any retreat would be viewed as a sign of weakness. Thus, the argument goes, Bush can gracefully back down as he "considers" the advice from members of his own party.

    The administration says otherwise:

    [A]dministration officials said that because they have not formally elected military action against the Iraqi dictator, it would be premature and politically dangerous to lay out a lengthy justification for an American military strike -- particularly without a war plan in place to back up the talk.
    This is laughable at best. The Bush Administration and its minions over at the National Review have been trying to justify an Iraq campaign for almost a year. Saddam has WMD. He gasses his own people. He threatens his neighbors. Etc., etc. Truth is, those arguments have rung hollow and have failed to provide adequate justification for Gulf War II.

    Bush has now backed himself into an ideological corner. If he fails to act, after railing against Saddam's evils, then he appears weak. Thus, many argue, Bush has no choice but to attack.

    But that ignores real military concerns -- now voiced publicly by the nation's most accomplished war-time generals. While it would be difficult to insert massive numbers of troops into Iraq without the support of any of its neighbors, that problem pales in comparison to the logistical nightmare the operation would pose. Military forces gobble up war material at frightening rates -- food, water, diesel fuel, and ammunition. Supplying a massive force from the air is not feasible (not for the hundreds of thousands of troops this operation would require), and would be impossible in a contaminated (biological or chemical) environment.

    Again, military men see these difficulties and cringe from moving forward. Many Republicans have arrived at the same conclusion. But boxed in by his own rhetoric, will Bush risk a dangerous operations and put lives needlessly at risk, if only to save face?

        08:35 AM | Link | Comments (6) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Thursday | August 15, 2002

    Still against Iraq invasion

    MaxSpeaks reports that Gen. Schwarzkopf, speaking on Imus this morning, came out against Gulf War II. No surprise there. There hasn't been a single prominant military figure who was yet to support an Iraq invasion. All such support comes from the civilian chickenhawks over at the Pentagon and Veep ChichenHawk Cheney. People who know how to wage war -- not only the logistical and tactical considerations, but who are also entrusted with real lives -- can easily see the folly of an Iraq invasion.

    On another note, the guy behind the Just One Minute blog points me to this interesting article in the National Review. The author of the piece tries to minimize the dangers and risks of a Saddam entrenched in his urban centers:

    Cities are fairly complex systems. They require fresh water, food, and electricity to function effectively. Furthermore they cannot be defended equally well everywhere at all times. Attackers can avoid most of the pitfalls of urban fighting by cutting off cities, knocking out electricity and other elements of the infrastructure, and then making small-scale attacks in key areas when opportunities present themselves to do so with minimal risk.
    The author then concludes that the US would still defeat Iraq, despite their urban defense strategy.

    I don't think anyone argues that the US wouldn't win. The question has always been "at what cost". Sure, the US could take Iraq's oil fields and lay siege to its cities, cutting off their energy, water and supply lines, starving them over time. But the human toll would be disastrous as Saddam horded his supplies for the benefits of his fighters. Civilians would die by the thousands providing CNN and Al Jazeera with plenty of fodder for outraged viewers around the world.

    Saddam wouldn't be playing for a military victory. His strategy would be to draw out the conflict for as long as possible, inflicting myriad paper cuts on the American behemoth. He would try to draw Israel into the conflict, sparking a wider war in the Middle East, one replete with nukes, bio and chemical weapons. And ultimately, US forces would have to enter the cities. If Saddam has to go down, he'll want to do so causing as much pain on the US and Israel as possible.

    So why invade? Because Bush harbors a grudge against Saddam? Because he might have WMD, that he might then use against his neighbors? Let his neighbors deal with it, then. Given the fact that they refuse to allow US troops to launch an attach from their soil, those neighbors can't be too concerned. Neither should the US.

        08:51 AM | Link | Comments (2) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Tuesday | August 13, 2002

    GOP leads attack against attack

    How's this for bizarre? While Dem hopefulls remain circumspect on an Iraq invasion, it has been up to Republican skeptics to quiet the beating of the war drums. Robert Novak reports that Bush has cooled on war plans after an in-depth briefing by Colin Powell and Richard Armitage. In addition, words of warning have come from Brent Scowcroft, Jack Kemp, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and Sens. Chuck Hagel and Pat Roberts. And these dovish sentiments from the Right are empowering more rank and file Democrats to oppose the war.

    Another sign that war talk is on the wane: the rabidly pro-war National Review published an anti-war piece (from a Cato Institute senior fellow, no less). The magazine has reverted to form today, publishing a piece blasting the GOP naysayers while lauding pro-war Democrats like Biden and Lieberman (apparently he's no longer "Loserman" to the National Review). However, the fact that at least one of NRO's contributors opposes the war betrays the lack of unity from the right on the issue.

    Of course, political pressures force Dems to play it safe on the war. Traditionally viewed as the party of doves (despite leading the country into both World Wars and Vietnam), it is difficult for Dems to play the peace card with a hawkish electorate. War is considered a GOP issue, and they can oppose it without risking political damage. Kind of like Nixon visiting China. Or Clinton slamming Sister Souljah.

    But as far as the war debate is concerned, Democrats are all but irrelevant. The Republicans have the votes necessary to approve any resolution in Congress, while commander-in-chief Bush has absolute power to send in the cavalry (War Powers Act notwithstanding). Thus, the fate of Gulf War II will be decided by the GOP, and those within that party courageous enough to stand up against unbridled warlust.

    Update: I've read some intriguing theories that Armey is simply doing Bush's bidding. It goes like this: Bush has painted himself into a corner. The war drums are beating, but war is actually not a good option. If he backs down, he looks weak and lacking resolve, if he moves forward, he risks catastrophe. Thus, he gets a leader in his own party to publicly oppose the war. Bush takes the warning under counsel, and is "convinced" by the wisdom of Armey's words.

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    Thursday | August 08, 2002

    Not your father's Gulf War

    The Gulf War was a seminal moment in warfare, perhaps the last of the great tank wars. The US was so dominant, so outclassed its Iraqi enemy, that many surrendered any illusions they could confront the US with conventional weapons. Libya, for example, reportedly reorganized its army into guerilla units, recognizing the futility of conventional warfare against better-equipped foes.

    The next lesson was provided courtesy of the Chechens. Sent in to quell secessionist rebels, Russian tank and mechanized infantry columns easily swept across the northern Chechen plains. Yet Russian euphoria quickly changed to horror as they attempted to occupy the capital, Grozny. Thousands of men died in a series of well-orchestrated ambushes. Russian artillery and air power methodically leveled the entire city, yet to this day, Chechen rebels continue to bedevil the occupying Russian forces. Snipers can hide behind rubble just as well as behind standing buildings.

    Lesson #3 is ongoing -- the Palestinian resistance. I won't wade into the morass of who is right -- the Palestinians or the Israelis. I hold them equally in contempt and abstain from supporting either side. They reap what they sow. But from a military standpoint, the Palestinians seem to have the upper hand. The Israelis have modern weaponry, armor, attack jets operating from airfields just minutes away from their targets, attack gunships, night-fighting capabilities, and some of the best military training in the world. Yet, they are hamstrung by Palestinian guerilla tactics and a masterful PR operation by Arafat and his cronies.

    Here's how it works: place a sniper in a populated building. Shoot at occupying Israeli troops. The Israelis call in air strikes, turning the building into rubble and a graveyard for dozens of civilians including women and children. Arafat comes out and weeps his crocodile tears for the dead, and the (non-US) world is outraged at the carnage and "heavy-handed" Israeli tactics. This is a refinement on the Chechen strategy, adding an effective public relations element to the strategy of urban resistance.

    Of course, urban resistance is as old as warfare itself. I don't mean to imply that Chechnya and Palestine are pioneers in any way. But, both are examples of how urban guerillas can still fight technologically superior foes to a standstill by using age-old tactics. Regardless of how good US technology is, there is still no easy way to ferret out snipers without house-to-house combat. And like it or not, that will cost lives.

    (And if any of you are wondering, Somalia is not analogous -- US troops were trying to arrest associates of warlord Aidid, not subjugate and occupy the country.)

    Hussein may be a bit loony, but he's not stupid. He knows he cannot hope to defeat the US in the open desert. Thus, he plans to abandon the open desert for the relative security of his cities. The US would be forced to attack civilian targets to eliminate Saddam's forces, inevitably causing horrific civilian casualties. And CNN and Al Jazeera would be there to capture Hussein shedding tears for his martyrs, turning world opinion sharply against the US. Even a successful occupation of Baghdad could be met with years of casualties as Saddam loyalists engaged in hit-and-run guerilla tactics.

    There was a reason Bush I didn't march on Baghdad.

    Despite all the war talk, nothing is inevitable. While Democrats are too afraid to oppose war, many influential Republicans are fidgeting. When House Majority Leader Dick Armey opposes war, along with influential foreign policy wonks such as Lugar and Hagel, things are not looking good for Bush. No doubt things are bleak for the Democrats when Armey is the voice of reason:

    My own view would be to let him bluster, let him rant and rave all he wants. As long as he behaves himself within his own borders, we should not be addressing any attack or resources against him.

    If we try to act against Saddam Hussein, as obnoxious as he is, without proper provocation, we will not have the support of other nation states who might do so.

        11:34 PM | Link | Comments (12) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Wednesday | August 07, 2002

    Stay out of Iraq

    The Saudis have flat out refused to allow an US invasion of Iraq from their soil. That's about par for the course, following similar rejections from Jordan and Turkey. Kuwait has been cool to using its country as a staging ground, while Iran is obviously out.

    That leaves US planners with few options -- either an amphibious assault and/or an airborne assault. Both are extremely high-risk options, much more difficult than driving tanks across a line in the sand.

    The only US ally to offer even tepid support is the UK, and what little support they are offering would evaporate if Iraq allowed UN weapons inspectors back into the country. Thus, a US attack of Iraq would instantly transform the US into a pariah state. Colin Powel understands it, the Joint Chiefs understand this, but Bush and the Pentagon's civilian Rambo-esque "leadership" don't care.

    Every US war this century has been undertaken with some justification in mind. Even at its most cynical, US military actions at least pretended to uphold some notion of justice, or liberty, or higher ideal. And with such justifications, the US was able to rally at least some international support for its actions.

    If the US attacks Iraq with no justification, it will become an obnoxious, dangerous, belligerant bully. Iraq gassed its own Kurds? Yes. Horrible. But that wrong has been partially rectified. The Kurds have a prosperous de facto state in northern Iraq, and no one else has been gassed in decades. Iraq is belligerant toward its neighbors? That was ten years ago. The US, with broad international support and participation, went to war and put an end to that. Presently neither Kuwait, nor any other Iraq neighbor fears Baghdad.

    What about Iraqi support for terrorists? No such link has been shown, especially support for Al Queda. Somewhat ironically, the secular Saddam has been a strong opponent of Islamic fundamentalists. Hussein and Bin Laden are at opposite ends of the Islamic ideological spectrum and share little more than their hatred of the US. And what of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? Many nations harbor such weapons. Will the US mount its own Jihad against nations such as India, Pakistan, South Africa, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil and Argentina? Saddam has shown no inclination to make use of any such weapons he might have. However, an invasion seeking to topple his regime would clearly invite their use.

    With all the recent war talk, it was interesting to see Bush carefully back off from the edge. His aides claimed Bush wasn't trying to back off recent threats, but he was. Nothing is inevitable yet.

    More on this topic later....

        11:30 AM | Link | Comments (2) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Friday | August 02, 2002

    Another blow against administration secrecy

    A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to release the names of those arrested and detained in its 9/11 investigation. This order will likely get appealed, but it is further evidence that the courts are stripping the Bush Administration of the extraordinary powers it seized in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

        01:41 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Monday | July 29, 2002

    "Inside out" in Iraq

    If you want proof the US military opposes any invasion of Iraq, simply watch as it leaks every possible war plan to the NY Times. The latest is the "Inside Out" plan, that would have the US simply take and occupy Baghdad and a few key cities, and then wait for a leaderless Iraq to collapse. The goal would be a quick and decisive victory, appeasing recalcitrant allies wary of a long, drawn-out conflict.

    Would it work? Probably. Unlike many real pundits, I don't think the US would have any trouble defeating Iraq. I don't think the US would have any trouble defeating anyone. The question has always been should the US become a belligerent, threatening, offensive, first-strike nation -- the type of nation it accuses Iraq of being. And does the US want to take the diplomatic hit, creating resentment and anger in our allies and creating new future enemies and terrorist groups. (Remember, Al Queda rose from the ashes of the Gulf War.)

    Of all strategies discussed, this "Inside Out" seems to be the riskiest, highest-casualty of all. The plan advocates a quick strike on Iraq's major cities. Since none (other than Basra) are adjacent the Gulf or international borders, that would mean an airborne assault -- an inherently dangerous military maneuver. There have been few successful airborne assaults in the history of warfare. The Nazis invaded Crete from the air, and then swore off the tactic after taking horrific casualties. US forces made some relatively small scale airborne landings during D-Day with mixed results.

    Since then, the US hasn't attempted the tactic. It's easy to see why -- broken ankles and other injuries plague even the most controlled training exercises. Jumpers can get spread out over large distances, forcing dangerous regroups in the dark of night. And lumbering transport planes (or helicopters, in the case of the 101st Air Assault Division) are easy targets for anti-aircraft fire. Take down one C-130, and you suddenly need body bags for 92 paratroopers and five crew members.

    Any and all such problems are compounded when dropping paratroopers in an urban center. Watch Black Hawk Down for a primer on urban warfare. True, superior US firepower will kill a lot more Iraqis than Americans, but the cost for both sides would be horrific. And Iraq has learned its lesson well -- it won't try to stop the US in the open desert. You can bet his troops are prepared for grueling house to house urban combat.

    Finally, it is difficult to resupply troops dropped in the middle of hostile territory. Airdrops are inadequate for the long-term operations of a large fighting force. Apparently the hope is that the Iraqi government quickly collapses, but that is neither a certainty, nor would it even guarantee the cessation of hostilities (e.g. lawless Somalia). Air dropped troops are extremely poorly equipped. Not only do they have a small and finite amount of ammunition, but they also lack much of the heavy weaponry they would need for extended operations. Food and water would be in scarce supply. They would enjoy air superiority, but that advantage is actually lessened in an urban core, where buildings provide hostile forces with ample cover and where the fog of war increases the likelihood of friendly fire incidents.

    Again, I believe the US would eventually succeed, but at what cost? The number of dead would be horrific, the enmity the US would breed amongst ally and foe alike is hard to imagine. The US would transform itself from an agent for world peace to the world's most belligerent state.

    If the US had ample justification for an attack, and war was inevitable, the best strategy would be to land marine and airborne troops in Basra, capture the region's oil fields, and starve Hussein of his oil revenues. Then bomb his infrastructure until the nation submits. But there is no current justification, other than some vague and self-destructive vendetta against Hussein. The military wants none of a Iraq invasion, and the world community is still presenting a united front against the US. As such, the administration should heed the Pentagon's wishes and maintain the status quo.

        08:24 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Thursday | July 25, 2002

    House Dems push 9-11 commission

    Even though the issue looked dead, pushed to the background by the nation's worsening economic situation, House Democrats won their bid to create an independent 9-11 commission.

        09:50 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Wednesday | July 17, 2002

    From the right: Wag the dog. Please!

    I hate to say this about anyone, but NY Post columnist John Podhoretz is an asshole. To what do we owe this ad hominem attack? In his latest column, Podhoretz urges the president to invade Iraq in order to boost his numbers and improve GOP chances in November.

    You're in some domestic political trouble, Mr. President. You need to change the subject. You have the biggest subject-changer of all at your disposal. Use it.
    Even if Iraq is unable to kill a single soldier or airman, Americans will still die. Fatal accidents are common in the military, and such accidents are obviously more common when waging war (just ask the Canadians).

    For this columnist to callously condemn Americans to certain death in order to boost the president's political fortunes is nothing short of barbaric. Podhoretz claims he is being practical, Machiavellian. No he's not. He's being a coward. It's easy enough to send others to their death. But I don't see Ann Coulter, the editorial board of the National Review, Robert Novak or Podhoretz volunteering to serve in the vanguard of any such invasion.

    Realistically speaking, Podhoretz's suggestions don't have a chance in hell in passing. As I've argued before, any such invasion is currently politically and logistically impossible. However, the column does betray two things:

    1. The right is panicking about the corporate scandals and their effect on the mid-term and 2004 elections; and

    2. there is nothing "compassionate" about an ideology that would trade lives for political gain.

        11:44 AM | Link | Comments (2) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Tuesday | July 16, 2002

    How long will Lindh serve?

    Talk Left: Lindh's Sentence: 20 Years or Up to 20 Years?

        02:22 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    More on Lindh

    Yesterday I suggested that Lindh was railroaded into a plea agreement, even though the government's case was falling apart. A provision in the plea agreement seems to support my theory:

    The agreement says that for the rest of his life the government may immediately and unilaterally capture and detain Mr. Lindh as an "enemy combatant" should it determine that he has engaged in any of a score of crimes of terrorism. The government has said that such detentions, which are military rather than criminal, are beyond the power of the courts to second-guess.

    Legal experts said the reference to enemy combatant status in the plea agreement, along with the government's recent decisions to detain Yasser Esam Hamdi and Jose Padilla as combatants without filing charges against them, suggests that the government now prefers detentions to trials.

    As the article makes clear, the US no longer wants to deal with the hassles of criminal trials, what with those pesky constitutional rights and all. There was nothing to prevent the government, seeing its case falling apart and ripped to shreds both internally and in the media, from telling Lindh and his lawyers: "Plead or we will relabel you an 'enemy combatant'." It's obvious the issue arose, since the government included language to that effect in the plea.

    TalkLeft has some good commentary on the Lindh case. The person behind TalkLeft is a criminal defense lawyer, and I am eagerly awaiting more of her analysis on the plea agreement.

        07:48 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Monday | July 15, 2002

    Something fishy about Lindh plea

    John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban, has pleaded guilty to two of the government's ten counts as part of a plea agreement (link is PDF). The two counts are "Supplying Services to the Taliban" and "Carrying an Explosive During the Commission of a Felony".

    lindh1.jpgThe charges carry a sentence of 20 years (of which he'll serve 17 assuming good behavious), and, among other things, requires Lindh to put "to rest his claims of mistreatment by the United States Military." Lindh further acknowledges that "he was not intentionally mistreated by the U.S. military." Interesting how the government insisted this be part of the plea agreement. See picture on right, keeping in mind that the worst pictures have not been released to the public or were ordered destroyed by the US military.

    There are several fishy aspects about this plea. First of all, why would the defense plead out before the judge ruled on the admissibility of Lindh's "confession"? Second, why would Lindh cop to a criminal act of supporting the Taliban, when the US government was, at the same time, sending tens of millions of dollars to that very same Taliban regime? If Lindh is guilty of supporting the Taliban, so is Bush, Powell, and the entire state department.

    The defense doesn't seem to be able to speak openly about the plea. It's almost as if Lindh was threatened with the same treatment Jose Padilla is getting -- the "enemy combatant" label. Could the US, seeing its case against Lindh fall apart, have threatened to strip Lindh of his attorney and incarcerate him indefinitely as an "enemy combatant"? There is definitely more to this case than currently meets the eye.

        11:33 AM | Link | Comments (3) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Thursday | July 11, 2002

    What goes around, comes around

    It was only a matter of time. TalkLeft points us to two obscure media reports on the fate of an American journalist in Liberia. He is being held as an "unlawful combatant", accused of aiding a "terrorist organization". He is, much like Padilla in the US, being held incommunicado. The US government has issued a mild statement, but can do little more.

    The Bush Administration fears that the UN War Crimes Court could open the US up to frivolous, politically motivated lawsuits. But who needs the UN court, when US actions give foreign governments all the justification they need to violate the rights of Americans?

        11:06 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Iraq invasion off the table

    I wrote earlier this week that chances of a US invasion of Iraq were limited at best. The logisitics of such an invasion were nearly impossible given the non-existent international support for such an operation. And every time US planners floated an idea, such as using Jordan as a launching pad, the country in question would fire back a fierce denial.

    So it is no surprise that US war planners are now "raising the bar" for an Iraq invasion:

    A full-scale U.S. invasion of Iraq will require significant provocation by Saddam Hussein's regime -- such as invading a neighbor, fielding a nuclear weapon or attacking its minority population, top Bush administration officials have concluded.

    Senior officials at the Pentagon ( news - web sites), State Department and other agencies say President Bush ( news - web sites)'s national security team has agreed that the most dramatic option for toppling Saddam -- a large-scale invasion -- would be politically difficult at home and abroad without justification beyond Iraq's current friction with Washington over the suspected development of weapons of mass destruction.

    Still, all is not well. The Bushies, obsessed with taking out Saddam, have ordered the CIA to continue investigating possible links between Iraq and 9-11. To date, no such links have been found, and it begs the question whether the administration will manufacture a link to bolster their war efforts. In addition, if a link to 9-11 is a legitimate pretext for an invasion, we should be marching on Riyadh at this very moment, with Yemen in the on-deck circle.

    The GOP's right-wing, led by the shrill folks at National Review, will not take kindly to this news. Fleischer will rush out a statement claiming that "all options are still on the table." But reality has finally sunk in on the administration. The state department and the Pentagon have made their case, and for now, the good guys have come out ahead.

        07:54 AM | Link | Comments (4) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Tuesday | July 09, 2002

    Iraq invasion not imminent

    Bush is still threatening to take out Saddam Hussein. However, there are no indications, other than a "wag the dog" effort to get Harken out of the news, that an invasion of Iraq is that imminent.

    Quite simply, if news reports are to be believed, the logistics of any such invasion are currently impossible.


        12:00 AM | Link | Comments (1) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Monday | July 08, 2002

    Moratorium over

    Check out this great column from Canada's National Post. The writer argues that the moratorium on Bush bashing has ended, thanks to the politization of the war by Bush and Co.

        07:56 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Sunday | June 30, 2002

    Other priorities

    In what is shaping up to be an interesting administration leak, anonymous officials say that the pre-9-11 Bush Administration didn't have terrorism on its radar screen. Despite intense focus on the problem by the Clinton Administration, Bush's National Security Council discussed terrorism in only two if its first 100 meetings.

    So, while the Bushies were interested in restarting the Cold War with North Korea and China, terrorism was barely an afterthought. Missile defense was important. Al Queda was ignored. Restarting nuclear testing was a priority. Securing our airports was not.

    Lucky for the administration, the 4th of July weekend is coming up, giving it ample opportunities to sound the terrorism alarm bell.

        08:11 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post | Trackback (0)

    Thursday | June 13, 2002

    Why we won't invade Iraq this summer

    An article in Slate argues that the US won't invade Iraq this summer because NBC suits (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) are too hot for the summer. Having served in the Army during the Gulf War (though my unit didn't deploy), I am well acquainted with the NBC suit. Simply put, I couldn't stand to wear it more than ten minutes at a time, and that was in the much milder German summer. The NBC suit is in desperate need of upgrading.

    But that's not the reason we won't invade this summer. Modern warfighting tacticts dictate a prolonged air campaign before the insertion of any ground troops. Thus, the US could launch its air assault in the summer, have it last through fall, and invade in early winter.

    No, the reason the US won't invade Iraq is because the Middle East is already in flames. There is ZERO international support for a war. The US would be unable to use its bases in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Bahrain might allow the use of its bases, but it has no airfields of note, just naval facilities. The nearest usable base is in faraway Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Turkey has bases, but will not go along with an invasion. Even the UK will have to sit this one out, lest Blair's government collapses.

    The Joint Chiefs of Staff are already on record against the War. Yet momentum for war, stalled a few weeks ago, is slowly building again. The National Review, Paul Wolfowitz and Veep Cheney, are all putting pressure on Bush to 'act'.

    But whether the US acts or not ultimately rests on diplomatic and logistical issues, not whether it's too hot inside a soldiers NBC gear.

        10:47 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

    Wednesday | June 12, 2002

    Ashcroft as the Fall Guy

    It's been subtle, but it seems as though Ashcroft is slowly being set up to take the blame for 9-11. In a series of strategic leaks, rumors, innuendo, and information gleaned from the 9-11 hearings on Capitol Hill, it seems Ashcroft's position at the head of Justice is increasingly tenous. As of now, we know that the pre-9-11 Ashcroft:

    • did not fly commercial airliners starting July 2001 because of credible threats of terrorist hijackings;
    • killed an FBI request for an additional $58 million in anti-terrorist funds;
    • submitted budget increases for 68 programs, none related to terrorism;
    • ignored FBI Director Freeh's efforts to focus more on terrorism, preferring to focus on his pet obsessions: drugs, porn, guns, and naked statues;
    • turned down a request to assign hundreds of agents to the counter-terrorism beat;
    • sent a memorandum to his department heads listing his top seven priorities. The list didn't include terrorism;
    • has seen his FBI admit to ignoring warning signs that might've prevented the 9-11 attacks;

    The voices against Ashcroft are steadily rising, not from the predictable left, but also on the right and from within the administration itself. Conservative columnists (and former Nixon speechwriter) William Safire recently wrote, "To fabricate an alibi for his nonfeasance, and to cover up his department's embarrassing cut of the counterterrorism budget last year, Attorney General John Ashcroft ... has gutted guidelines put in place a generation ago to prevent the abuse of police power by the federal government." Nonfeasance? Ouch.

    And now, the administration is openly expressing its disapproval of Ashcroft's triumphant announcement of Padilla's arrest. There's no doubt in my mind that the Padilla announcement was coordinated by Karl Rove in his attempt to keep the American public scared and divert attention from the 9-11 and Enron hearings and other political ills afflicting the administration. However, now that the Padilla arrest has been exposed for the sham that it is, someone has to take the blame.

    And isn't it funny that it's Ashcroft taking the hit? It seems clear that the Bush Administration will have to offer a sacrificial lamb to cleanse Dubya of any taint of responsibility for 9-11. And, that sacrificial lamb has to be someone with heft. Mueller just won't cut it. Ashcroft, on the other hand, fits the bill perfectly.

        10:54 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

    No charges against Padilla

    Once upon a time, security agencies needed things like "charges," or "probable cause" to arrest and detain someone. Thanks to the WOT, that's no longer necessary. Case in point: The alleged "dirty bomb" suspect that had the press in titters the last two days. While headlines trumpeted a victorious blow against terror, the government's case against gangbanger Jose Padilla was nothing more than vapor. The latest in this bizarre saga? Rumsfeld now admits that the US is not going to arrest Padilla. They just want to 'question him'.

    Yet at the same time, in violation of everything this country and its Constitution stand for, he is being held "indefinitely". This is getting really scary.

    The one compelling element of the story is that Padilla picked up $10k in Zurich. However, Brittish intelligence agencies say that Padilla was merele a courrier. The Independent reported:

    Despite claims by the Attorney General, John Ashcroft, that the FBI had disrupted a plan to launch a radioactive attack against Washington, other officials conceded yesterday that there was no evidence that any such plot had progressed beyond the most basic stages.

    British security sources, who believe Mr Muhajir might have been acting as a courier, said the Americans investigated Mr Muhajir's activities and tried to find a terrorist network he may have been involved with inside the US. The highly publicised announcement of the arrest only came after the failure to find anything more incriminating.

        08:09 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

    Tuesday | June 11, 2002

    Gangbanger of Doom

    The must-visit Media Whores Online has the following post today:

    CBS News is now reporting utter chaos has overtaken the White House efforts to scare the American public and to protect its own political rump with the alleged Jose Padilla "dirty bomb" plot.


    CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart reports some U.S. officials now admit they're not sure what Padilla's plans were when he returned to the U.S. last month.

    MWO also includes a link to the actual article, but the story doesn't include the information mentioned above, apparently edited out. Interesting...

    In any case, as I mentioned yesterday, this arrest of a small-time gangbanger is hardly the triumph over terror the administration would have us believe. It's designed to take pressure off Bush, the 9-11 hearings, Enron, and every other ill currently plaguing the administration. And the press and public lap it up. Unbelievable...

        10:23 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

    Monday | June 10, 2002

    Mixed messages

    The Bush Administration announced that US intelligence and law enforcement agencies thwarted a "dirty bomb" attack on the US. However, I'm confused. President Bush said:

    I can tell you that we have a man detained who is a threat to the country, and that thanks to the vigilance of our intelligence-gathering and law enforcement, he is now off the streets, where he should be.

    The defense department's resident hawk, Paul Wolfowitz, said:

    He did indicate some knowledge of the Washington, D.C., area but I want to emphasize again it was not an actual plan.

    So, not only does Bush not mention anything about a dirty bomb plot, but Wolfowitz actually stresses that there is no plan. So, at best we have someone, who perhaps consorted with known terrorist, that has "some knowledge" of the DC area. If he truly is a threat, then bravo. But given the known facts, does his capture really merit the victorious headlines today?

    Yahoo (AP): "U.S. Says It Thwarts Al Qaeda Dirty Bomb Attack"

    Washington Post: "U.S. Citizen Detained In 'Dirty Bomb' Plot"

    New York Times: " U.S. Arrests American Accused of Planning 'Dirty Bomb' Attack"

    And so on. So, while the headlines trumpet the disruption of the bomb plan, Wolfowitz says "I want to emphasize again it was not an actual plan."

    What gives? How can the US arrest someone from planning an attack when there is no actual plan? Just another attempt by the Bush Administration to divert attention from explosive hearings on Capitol Hill?

        12:49 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

    Saturday | June 08, 2002

    Bush's downward spiral

    Two polls released yesterday confirm that Bush's sky-high popularity has a short shelf life. I had argued that barring any new terrorist attack, Bush would continue to drop 2-3 points a month before stabilizing in the high 50s. However, the "trifecta" of Enron investigations, 9-11 investigations, and the Halliburton-influenced stock market collapse last week together helped chip seven points off Bush's approval ratings in one week.

    Gallup has Bush's approval ratings at 70 percent. Republicans still approve of Bush at a clip of 96 percent, but Democrats and Independents are abandoning the president in droves. However, even that 96 percent from Republicans is a soft number, given the electoral beating Bush's handpicked candidates have suffered in recent Republican primary elections.

    Everyone's favorite fair and unbiased source of news has Bush's favorability rating at 69 percent, down eight points from a week ago. What's especially telling about Fox's poll is the question: "How confident are you in the United State's ability to handle the problem of terrorism?". Only 54 percent of respondents said they were "absolutely confident" or "pretty confident" the US would win. Those numbers have to be terrifying to a presidency built entirely on the War on Terror.

    The more the Bush Administration shrugs its shoulders at problems confronting the nation ("the US will get hit with another terrorist attack", "Colorado will become a desert thanks to global warming," "people losing their life pensions and jobs because of corporate greed is the beauty of capitalism," etc.), the more Bush's poll numbers will bleed.

    And fair or not (and it really isn't fair), it's easy to contrast the Clinton years with the Bush years. Peace and prosperity versus perpetual war, recession, corporate excesses and greed, constant fear of terrorist attacks, massive defecits and ballooning debts. And Karen Hughes has left the building. Bush is in trouble.

        09:47 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

    WOT is a quagmire

    I find it amusing that last fall, as the US was gearing up its campaign against the Taliban and Al Queda, the media establishment was tripping all over itself trying to claim the War on Terror had become a quagmire. It hadn't. Indeed, it's amazing what the Clinton military was able to accomplish in such a short period of time and against a foe so remote from any established US airbases.

    However, now that the war has become a quagmire, no one is talking about it.

    The US and its allies now face hundreds of Al Queda cells, disgruntled Taliban, petty warlords, and hostile terrain and weather. Despite boastful claims that the Taliban and Al Queda had been routed, it turns out they were just scattered all over Afghanistan and Pakistan. The US and Brits mount massive military offensives and net nothing more than a "weapons cache". God knows there are enough weapons in that country to arm every man, woman, and child ten times over. The Afghan operation is looking more and more like an occupation, which will only further inflame local passions against the Westerners on its soil.

    Furthermore, the administration claims that the US is just as vulnerable as ever to another massive terrorist attack, betraying assertions that Al Queda was routed. And while the US couldn't shut up about Bin Laden post 9-11, that name is now verboten within the Bush Administration. Indeed, recent news reports show a determined effort to completely shift public attention away from Bin Laden. Smacks to me as an attempt to divert attention from the US's complete failure to apprehend him.

    All the while, the US is committing troops to the Philipines, Georgia (former Soviet republic, not the peach state), and Colombia. And while US casualties have been light, lives aren't the only way to measure a quagmire. It can be measured by the expense of maintaining large number of forces deployed all over the globe, by the hit on morale of our forces in the field, by the emnity breeding overseas at our military adventurism, by the malaise hanging over our country as people grow weary of war talk, by the utter and complete lack of palpable military victories to rally the nation and lift spirits, and by the increasing body count of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire or killed as a result of "regrettable accidents".

        09:09 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

    Wednesday | May 29, 2002

    Iraq war losing momentum

    I generally enjoy getting my political news from right-wing sources like latest editorial calling for an invasion of Iraq. The article has tinges of desperation, as the editors see the possibilities of an Iraq invasion evaporate before their eyes.

    It was conservative columnist Robert Novak of the Chicago Sun-Times who first broke the story that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were adamantly opposed to an Iraq invasion. Apparently, the NRO editors have come to the same conclusion (conservatives have always had far better sources in the Pentagon than liberals), and are desperately trying to ratchet up the stakes: It's no longer the war on terrorism. Now it's the war on anyone who, well, I'm not quite sure. In their words:

    It isn't just Saddam's WMD capability that should prompt the U.S. to rid the world of his regime as soon as possible, but the fact that his ouster can be just the beginning of an effort to transform the Middle East and to root out Islamic radicalism at its sources. It would give the U.S. the foothold to work on toppling, or radically changing the behavior of, Tehran, Damascus, Riyadh, and their client, whoever that may be at the time (Arafat or some other Palestinian strongman), in Ramallah.
    So, according to the NRO, we bomb the crap out of Afghanistan, then bomb the crap out of Iraq (with no international support), occupy the country, bomb the crap out of Saudi Arabia (after occupying its oil fields, no doubt), bomb the crap out of Syria, and THEN, after all that death and destruction, declare victory against Islamic radicalism? Wow.

        05:40 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

    Investigations galore

    Bush is desperate to hold off an independant investigation into 9-11. The right-wing National Review is pessimistic Bush will succeed, noting that even without an independent investigation, there will be plenty of other investigations looking into the matter. Senate Democrats are already looking into the matter, and it's only a matter of time before "official" investigations are announced. And, Republican senators will be in no position to obstruct the hearings.

    What the article doesn't state is that in addition to the intelligence committee investigations, and multiple committee investigations, and a possible blue ribbon panel independent investiation, you will have every Pulitzer yearning investigative reporter digging for the scoop of the year. Every leak will have added significance, and every event up to 9-11, whether coincidental or real, will be a dot to be connected.

    Given that Enron is heating up, the multitude of 9-11 stories soon to emerge will put a serious dent in Bush's armor. And that's assuming that the SEC's new investigation into Halliburton and its last CEO, Veep Dick Cheney, doesn't become a political issue.

        05:25 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

    Monday | May 27, 2002

    "Security" at airports means empty guns

    For months I have been telling anyone who listened that National Guard troops in airports were probably carrying unloaded weapons. I was right.

    It's funny to me how the AP is breathlessly reporting this "scoop". Anyone with any kind of military service would know that the armed forces rarely trust their troops with loaded guns. I served in the US Army during the Gulf War. As my Germany-based unit didn't deploy, we were forced to do guard duty around our post. Yet, while we were on high alert for terrorist attacks, we never once received ammunition to properly defend ourselves.

    Aside from that, the National Guard is a poor force to help guard airports. Their M-16 weapons are Vietnam-war era vintage. My rifle in 1989 was a newer model than those I saw in the airports. And, the M-16 is not design for close-quarters combat. It's a medium-range weapon. Airport security in countries outside the US usually carry short range submachine guns, such as Uzis. The M-16 is unwieldly and ackward when facing enemies just meters away.

    Finally, regular Army units, and National Guard units, I pressume, do not receive training in close-quarters combat. That has always been the domain of the Special Forces. Thus, we have had ill-trained, ill-prepared and unarmed civilian-'warriors' patrolling our airports. And not to increase security, but to "[calm] people down and [give] them the assurance that we were doing something." Too bad they really weren't "doing something".

        08:51 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

    Sunday | May 26, 2002

    Running scared

    Remember when in the darkest hours following 9-11, Bush hid in the cornfields of Nebraska? Well, as our fearless leader now admits, "I was trying to get out of harm's way."

    Um. Okay. Maybe not so fearless.

        09:41 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

    Iraq invasion loosing steam

    The Bush Administration is backpedaling from plans to attack Iraq. No surprise. Bush was eager to keep the nation on a war footing, probably surmizing his high poll numbers depended on it. However, the recent 9-11 disclosures have brought the Bush administration's competence into question. I believe that a few months of investigation leaks will further erode Bush's war glow.

    But more importantly, a war against Iraq was always a near impossibility. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait both refused to take part or allow the use of US facilities on their soil. Iran was clearly out. Bahrain was non-commital, but the nation only has naval facilities the US could use. US planners planned on Turkey's help, but Ankara has legitimate fears of Iraq's breakup (including the possible creation of a hostile Kurdistan).

    Thus, any invasion of Iraq would have to be carried out by airborne and marine units -- both high risk, high casualty routes. Air power would have to be provided by aircraft carriers and the distant airbase at Diego Garcia. Both would be adequate options for limited-scale strikes, but not to support a full-scale war against Iraq.

    Finally, a cornered Saddam would have no incentive to hold back from using chemical, biological, or (possibly, but unlikely) nuclear weapons. And the target would be Israel. International opinion is nearly universally opposed to an attack, while Brittain's PM Blair faced a revolt within his party over initial support. Brittain's support was becoming increasingly unlikely.

    Thus, while the Bushies will insist Iraq is still a target, they will do so only to keep the pressure on Saddam.

        06:51 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post