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June 02, 2005

Comments

Mar--, oh, never mind.

;-)

Why We Will Attack Iran

People offended by partisan nastiness might skip this link. Emptywheel believes the Cheney/Rumsfeld solution to the manpower problem is to turn Iraq back into an air campaign. Attack Iran, provoke a Shia insurrection, and then bomb Basra, Najaf, and Sadr City.

Bob M: that post is madness. Just madness. The account of why we went into Iraq is all wrong, imho, but supposing, for the sake of argument, that it's right, the idea that we could achieve the goals emptywheel attributes to us by an air war is absurd, as is the idea that attacking a country that's a lot larger than Iraq would in any way help with military readiness.

Madness.

More on recruitment from the NYT here.

"that post is madness. Just madness"

hilzoy, I don't disagree. The economic forecasting is mistaken, or way premature. We don't collapse so soon, not for 5-10 years. Unless we attack Iran, in which we will be collapsed by everybody else.

But I look at Iraq and the Army, and I can't figure out what the administration has in mind. I don't think our force structure is sustainable, I don't see the Iraqi replacements, and I don't see the administration doing anything about it.

Tacitus thinks we must have a draft, or we must withdraw and lose the war. He thinks we will not have a draft. I don't believe Bush/Cheney will ever withdraw in failure.
Madness may be spreading around.

Oh. and lastly, reading that post did make me think. If we do attack Iran's nuclear facilities, attacking them and them alone, given that we have our army next door, and oil being at maximum production worldwide, would be pretty damn stupid. Leaving those Exocets alone would not make sense to a General.

Any attack on Iran would have to be an attack on the nuclear facilities accompanied by an attack on their entire military infrastructure. As opposed to my post yesterday, such a massive air campaign would cause much collateral damage, and would likely cause a Shia insurrection in Iraq.

That is one mind-blowing scenario, bob. It assumes depths of Manichean despair and inhuman depravity even I have hesitated to lay at the door of the current regime.

If BushCo really goes for that... well, I won't have to worry about my retirement planning: we'll all be dead as doorknobs. Glowing doorknobs.

Because if that is the plan, it can't and won't stop at turning the ME into a charnel house. We'll have knocked the sh*t out of every country's economy, set loose a real international terrorist war, and generally shown everyone on the planet that our leadership is composed of mad dog nihilists.

There is no way - no way - the world, the whole world, will not rise up against us; yea verily, even unto nuking us, if we unleash such a holocaust.

Bob: in thinking about this administration, I have concluded that it's a mistake to think that there must be something coherent that they do have in mind. I mean: could there possibly be some secret undisclosed reason for, say, failing to plan for the occupation of Iraq? The only way I can see to say yes is if one is prepared to go into really deeply crazy territory, along the lines of, "they are agents of some foreign power, or maybe space aliens, who are determined to destroy the military power and prestige of the US".

Since that's a lot further into tinfoil territory than I'd ever be prepared to go in the absence of clear and convincing evidence (like, oh, video of George W. Bush being beamed aboard the mother ship for reprogramming), I opt instead for the appalling, though not actually crazy, alternate hypothesis: they don't have anything clear in mind at all. They genuinely thought it would be easy. They thought we needed to do something forceful after 9/11, and/or they felt compelled to think in terms of states to topple, not amorphous organizations to be dismantled and popular sympathies to be won, and they had spent quite some time hating Saddam and wanting to depose him, and voila! a mess.

I mean, it's hard to see how they could have failed to ask some of the obvious questions that should have leapt to mind, but it's not downright impossible, human beings being muddled and fallible creatures. Scary, though.

Dang! William S. Lind is kicking butt and taking names over this one too. I disagree violently with his paleocon isolationism and his notions of "Christendom" as a political unit, but he does seem to know a thing or two about the military.

Tacitus, per macmanus' attribution, is right about the draft. To bad the right-wingers (including our own Charles Bird) were too busy crying foul about such talk only 8 months ago. There is now no credible way for it to ever happen even if it was the proper thing to do.

Also, its too bad that the right-wingers have bought into the Bush-Cheney fraud that we already have enough troops, and that the military is allegedly not asking for more in Iraq.

If they want the true measure of the mendacity of this administration, just remember that Cheney is busy telling the right-wingers to believe that we are of the verge of winning.

So what's there to worry about?

Having recently read Kurt Eichenwald's Conspiracy of Fools, about Enron, I was freshly reminded of the whole "CEO presidency" thing we heard about early on with Bush. And this is CEO thinking. You can command something and someone else will bust their butt to make it happen. If it doesn't, it'll be their fault for failing to do it, not yours for giving a stupid order. If someone volunteers an idea and makes it work, you get credit for being so wise as to approve it. If they don't, it's their fault. All of this hinges on the existence of a lot of people who will, from the usual mix of good and bad motives, try very hard indeed to make it happen. Eventually, in any institution, the supply trickles out....

"they don't have anything clear in mind at all."

Well,PNAC had been seriously thinking about the ME for at least ten years. The second level of deception is believing this is an impulse war managed by incompetents.
I am sorry, I am just unable to see Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz as idiots, self-deluders, and chumps. Cheney & Rumsfeld would have eaten Chalabi alive, he is not that good a con-man.

However, they are liars, and nothing they ever say, or have others say about them should be believed. So I assume they have what they want, that everything is going according to plan. I just don't understand the plan.

I have just taken my drugs(valium,ambien,vicodin,melatonin,antihistamine,cough suppressant,decongestant,vitamin,Doritos), I go to bed. I have long believed that the attack on Iran will happen this summer, it will not be as consequential as casey thinks, but it will be heavy. Heavy enough that I have looked at things like the nuclear Senate War, the Bolton confirmation, and the Dems "win" on Social Security with some amusement. I hope I am wrong, but I think all hell is going to break loose, all bets will be off, everything solid will melt into war.

Feeling familar, like 68-69 all over again. May you live interesting times.

Bruce B: Kevin Drum had a good post about this before the election:

"Bush styles himself a "CEO president," but the world is full to bursting with CEOs who have goals they would dearly love to attain but who lack either the skill or the fortitude to make them happen. They assign tasks to subordinates without making sure the subordinates are capable of doing them — but then consider the job done anyway because they've "delegated" it. They insist they want a realistic plan, but they're unwilling to do the hard work of creating one — all those market research reports are just a bunch of ivory tower nonsense anyway. They work hard — but only on subjects in their comfort zone. If they like dealing with people they can't bring themselves to read all those tedious analyst's reports, and if they like numbers they can't bring themselves to spend time chattering with distributors about their latest prospect.

And most important of all, weak CEOs are unwilling to recognize bad news and perform unpleasant tasks to fix it — tasks like like confronting poorly performing subordinates or firing people. Good CEOs suck in their guts and do it anyway.

George Bush is, fundamentally, a mediocre CEO, the kind of insulated leader who's convinced that his instincts are all he needs. Unfortunately, like many failed CEOs before him, he's about to learn that being sure you're right isn't the same thing as actually being right."

I think this is exactly right. But I'd add: Bush is also marked by the fact of having been so privileged. It's a feature of that world that if you don't want to have to come to terms with the real possibility of failure, you don't have to. Things just get taken care of. Normal people sometimes have to face the fact that whatever they're doing really, really is not working, and that they have to move beyond their comfort zones, because if they don't, they might completely fail. Really privileged people do not have to do that if they don't want to.

I have never thought that Bush is dumb, etc. But I do think that he's a fundamentally defensive person, of a sort I recognize: on some level deeply worried about not living up to something or other, and instead of trying to figure out how to deal with this, just shutting out the bad news and blustering through. I think that if your most fundamental instinct is to stave off the very possibility of having to realize that you are in some way a disappointment, you cut off the possibility of reflection and growth; you are always defensive, and never genuinely curious or open. I think that that, plus the fact that privilege always protected him from being forced to give this stance up, is as important to understanding him as the bad CEO model, and might partially explain why he's such a bad CEO.

I think that part of the problrm is all the negative press from Amnesty International, etc. and the press. I have never ever seen a positive newspaper article about Iraq, aside from a few just after the elections. You all do your best to find the worst cases of abuse and US miscreants without acknowledging that any good has come of deposing the Hussein regime. It is all about Bush is a liar they are lying you are lying etc. No respectabale newspaper in the US would publish what Michael Yon does. or for that matter Iraq The Model or Blackfive. I'm not even going to include a link to Yon because it's not worth it (nobody here cares and I'm on slow dialup) The draft has been proposed specifically reduce to support on the War on Terror, per Charlie Rangel - remember it'sthe Democrats who want the draft. The number of Iraqis killed by suicide bombers, etc., is all completely attributed to the US in what I consider the bogus Lancet report, just as the supposed 500,000 killed by sanctions was meant to justify dropping all sanctions and letting Hussein do whatever he wante to do. If only the bad things that happen are discussed and publicized, then there will be a loss of morale and accordingly lower recruitment in the armed forces. I don't consider this in any way a good thing, but I suppose that there are those who consider this some sort of vindication.

Thank goodness that there are liberals that want the Iraq project to succeed, it's just too bad that they are only over in the UK, like Harry's Place, Norm Geras, etc.

DaveC: I do want us to succeed in Iraq. Obviously. I didn't want us to go in in the first place, but once we did, of course I want it to succeed. But I don't see why that should mean that I don't blog on things that go wrong there.

As it happens, I have written almost nothing about Iraq for months. This was mostly because I was thrilled by the elections, but also thought: any number of things could go wrong, etc. This was just because that's the sort of person I am: I don't usually leap to the conclusion that a huge corner has been turned, etc. (I seem to recall Sebastian saying something similar at the time.) But anyways: I didn't want to go on about the possible downside, because I really did want it to succeed, and I thought that whatever I said would just be taken as evidence that I didn't, and I didn't want to have that fight. Also, I was really, really hoping to be wrong.

It's partly because I want it to work that some of the things this administration has done really bother me. Also, about this post in particular, because I have a lot of respect for the army as an institution, and I think it is being broken.

And just for the record: I supported the sanctions, and was vocally opposed to Saddam since the days when we were selling him weapons and supplying him with satellite intelligence.

How's work? I hope people are being less exasperating.

DaveC, I sincerely doubt you can point to many liberals (or libertarians, or others outside the circle of Bush supporters) who wish for anything less than peace, prosperity, and justice in Iraq - an end to civil war, a constitutional government that works well, improving quality of life for the people, the whole deeal.

But...

I used to have a good friend who developed adult-onset diabetes. A few years later he was dead, after having has a miserable decline including multiple surgeries, the loss of a foot to gangrene and complications, the whole deal. He was nice, and also very smart, but he would not make the behavioral changes necessary to save his own life. He kept on eating a junk food diet rich in sugar and salt and other things he needed to cut back on, ignoring every warning from doctors and dismissing his friends as panic-mongers and the like when they objected to his clearly self-destructive behavior. Not one of us wanted him to die. But we could all see that if he didn't stop what he was doing and develop new habits, he would. And sure enough, he did.

The Bush administration is like that. It's simply not possible to get to peace, justice, or prosperity because of their policies. In the very best case it might happen in spite of their choices. But as with a diabetic friend, those of us whoa re friends of peace, prosperity, and justice must say "First, cut that out."

How's work? I hope people are being less exasperating.

Well, to tell the truth, the founder of the company, who used to be bogged down by business details, hired a company President to do all that, and now as an independent "Captain of Industry', can see fit to manage R&D by hollering at people, because he used to be a pretty good electrical engineer. (Which makes me crazy to be the arch-Zionist that I am, because he is an (ex?)-Israeli. - This is probably WAY TOO MUCH information.) We have a meeting tomorrow in which he is going to instruct me how to write the hardware self-test routines, even though he hasn't written any code in his life. I think you may have touched a nerve here,

Expect extremely twisted comments from me. At least my college-aged son is out of the house!

I used to have a good friend who developed adult-onset diabetes. A few years later he was dead, after having has a miserable decline including multiple surgeries

I have a relative who is in fantastic physical health for his age, but has Alzheimer's, which makes me deal with at least one weekly crisis, including when he possibly set his house on fire last April. Thank goodness the fire department reached a different conclusion.

Am I making an analogy to certain political opinions being old and tired? I don't know. I turned 50 today,
it's really late and I seem to be particulary grumpy.

Dang! William S. Lind is kicking butt and taking names over this one too. I disagree violently with his paleocon isolationism and his notions of "Christendom" as a political unit, but he does seem to know a thing or two about the military.

Eerily, Teresa Nielsen Hayden had almost exactly the same thought a few weeks back.

I turned 50 today, it's really late and I seem to be particulary grumpy.

Happy birthday!

I turned 50 today,

Ask for an open thread on a non-grumpy topic. It's your birthday!

DaveC: Happy birthday! Many happy returns. Have an oatcake. (I'm making a small batch downstairs. They're great with a single malt whisky.) Ask for a thread on a non-grumpy topic.

Hilzoy: I mean, it's hard to see how they could have failed to ask some of the obvious questions that should have leapt to mind, but it's not downright impossible, human beings being muddled and fallible creatures.

But here's the thing: we know that at least some of the people who are supposed to ask the obvious questions did ask them. But Bush & Co didn't like the answers and therefore ignored them. There was a small rash of resignations right after the invasion of Iraq, primarily inspired (as far as I could see) by senior government workers wanting to be able to say openly "Yes, we told them better, and they ignored us: that's why this happened."

Bruce B: . And this is CEO thinking. You can command something and someone else will bust their butt to make it happen. If it doesn't, it'll be their fault for failing to do it, not yours for giving a stupid order. If someone volunteers an idea and makes it work, you get credit for being so wise as to approve it. If they don't, it's their fault.

Indeed. Am reading Fast Food Nation right now (re-reading it) and having ideas for my next LSF post comparing Bush & Co's reaction to the Amnesty International report with the meatpacking industry's reaction to Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle. Never mind fixing what's gone wrong - blame the messenger.

DaveC: Well, to tell the truth, the founder of the company, who used to be bogged down by business details, hired a company President to do all that, and now as an independent "Captain of Industry', can see fit to manage R&D by hollering at people, because he used to be a pretty good electrical engineer. .... We have a meeting tomorrow in which he is going to instruct me how to write the hardware self-test routines, even though he hasn't written any code in his life. I think you may have touched a nerve here

Oh God, I've known managers just like that. My sympathies. Have a good birthday, and and hope the hardware you're testing survives the experience. (And you too... And the founder: though a jury of technical people never would convict you.)

What beats me, DaveC, is that you can see this is a dumb way to "manage" a technical department - but you appear to think that it's a terrific way to run an invasion, bound to succeed, and any bad news stories out of it must be Amnesty International or the liberal press.

Bush & Co tried to run the invasion of Iraq their way. Aside from Rumsfeld, none of them had any military experience. (And Rumsfeld had never had any military experience at that level.) They were told better by experts: they ignored the advice: they behaved, in other words, like your founder. Why would you expect this behavior to go well with an invasion when you know it won't work with writing hardware self-test codes?

Looks like we're going to get the answer to the question, What if they threw a war and nobody came?

Why We Will Attack Iran


Certainly, the neoconservatives never bothered to sell the rest of the country on the real reasons for occupation of Iraq -- more bases from which to flex U.S. muscle with Syria and Iran, and better positioning for the inevitable fall of the regional ruling sheikdoms. Maintaining OPEC on a dollar track and not a euro and fulfilling a half-baked imperial vision also played a role.

Well, it sure wasn't to find WMDs.

But this gives the US an excuse to turn much of Shiite Iraq--rather than just the Sunni triangle--into Fallujah. Mind you, I don't think this is an advantage. But I imagine a ruthless leader who only sees his objective, not the human cost of achieving that objective, would see it as an advantage.

Well since we don't seem to be winning hearts or minds, sheer Terror will have to be used!

And another glorious chapter in American Military History will be written.

I am not a good prognostigator (is that how it's spelled?) of this sort of thing. I didn't believe we would actually invade Iraq since it was so patently obvious that the administratin was lying, exaggerating, making up, overstating, or whatever the "intelligence" about WMD's. So I thought the invasion plan would be stopped by ratinal people and I thought those rational people would be the Democrats in Congress. Boy, was I ever wrong.
Now I am sitting here in stunned disbelief, thinking that there is no way we will actually carry out the wingnut macho fantasy wet dream of attacking Iran. Surely there are some grown ups in our government! Not in the Bush administration, of course, but somewhere....
Wouldn't Bush have to get some kind of authorization to carry out a bombing campaign against Iran? Wouldn't he have to engage in another year's worth of disinformation campaigning to get the authorization? Wouldn't enough people, citizens and members of Congress, be sceptical, given the the way Iraq turned out?
I hit the big five-oh two summers ago, DaveC. Congratulations, I hope you enjoy your birthday, and, if my experience is anything to go by, the fifties are better than the thirties and forties.

Cheney did say we'd be out of Iraq by the end of W's term, didn't he? Iran, here we come! then the moon, then Mars!

If you buy the theory that Iraq was in some way a "get even" frustration attack for 9/11 and for the "unfinished" gulf war....(and on some level I do)....

.....you have to believe there are still some people who want to "get even" for the 1970's hostage situation and still grouse about Jimmy Carter's unwillingness to go bomb the hell out of them.

It's plausible enough to make my stomach churn. Three and a half more years is a long time.......

(is that how it's spelled?)

Indeed.

Who knows if they're going to attack or not? However, if they pick a bombing campaign, I would think that the only chance to take out the nuclear stuff and the military assets would be a massive surprise attack. This means no build-up or asking Congress about it; they just send in the planes.

It isn't that difficult to fix the problem, increase the pay in the armed forces to reflect the fact that combat is highly likely instead of the remote possibility that it was in the 1990s and don't get rid of gay people who enlist or want to enlist. (The second probably isn't strictly necessary, but certainly makes good sense.)

zmulls, does that mean that after Iran we'll be getting our revenge on Vietnam?

Oy. Now my stomach really hurts........

I think if there were serious wingnut frustration over Vietnam, they would have been part of the Axis of Evil......

I think "Axis of Evil," more than anything else, is what's going in the history books about the Bush Administration. (Assuming anyone is allowed to write history books in the future.....)

Sebastian: It isn't that difficult to fix the problem, increase the pay in the armed forces to reflect the fact that combat is highly likely instead of the remote possibility that it was in the 1990s

And, according to several people who've come back from Iraq, quit giving Halliburton contracts to feed and house the military - reportedly, the Halliburton-run bases were far, far worse than the military-run bases.

But this really comes under "If you want recruitment, don't scant the pay OR the benefits" which I doubt you'd disagree with.

don't get rid of gay people who enlist or want to enlist.

And don't discriminate against women... ;-)

It isn't that difficult to fix the problem, increase the pay in the armed forces to reflect the fact that combat is highly likely instead of the remote possibility that it was in the 1990s and don't get rid of gay people who enlist or want to enlist. (The second probably isn't strictly necessary, but certainly makes good sense.)

Oh really, and exactly how much do you think it will cost to bribe an 18 year old to risk his life in Iraq? The problem with this administration is it is run by an unreformed alcoholic who is in denial. It refuses to admit it has a problem. According to the Administration everything is just fine and things are going well. Nothing bad is happening in Iraq, the detention centers, the budget, or the economy.

I thought, before the election, that any idiot could see that the current troop levels in Iraq were not working and that there would have to be serious reassessment of the situation there after the election but nobody could say anything because of politics. Apparently I was wrong. Bush has continued along the same destructive course of bleeding the Army and Marines (and the treasury) to death. At this rate we can last one more year or so before they are completely broken.

If we are serious about winning this war and stabilizing Iraq then Bush needs to get serious and demand real sacrifices from the country. He needs to demand that young Americans show their patriotism by volunteering for the military and that parents encourage their children to do just that. To show how serious he is, he should accompany his daughters as they are sworn in to OCS (one in the Marines and one in the Army would be a nice touch). Tearful goodbyes with Laura would be a nice touch too (he'd have to consult with Karl to see if a single tear from would be appropriate). Not only that, he should remind us that we should not burden future generations with the cost of this war and announce tax increases to cover at least the $80 billion "emergency" appropriations he keeps asking for.

I imagine they'll stop making the recruiting numbers public rather soon. They'll just decide that report isn't needed anymore.

If we were going to attack Iran, wouldn't we need at least a few months propaganda campaign explaining how we have to attack RIGHT NOW before a mushroom cloud . . . etc.? There's been a bit of that on Fox but not much.

Also, wouldn't we attack in an election year - 2006? Airstrikes in 2006? I find that plausible maybe.

Cheney did say we'd be out of Iraq by the end of W's term, didn't he?

Of course the Administration strongly implied that we would practically be out of Iraq by now. Our success is so great that it is taking us three or four extra years. More successes like this, and we will be undone.

Sadly, I am at the point that I cannot believe anything this Administration tells me. Apparently I don't have enough oxytocin in me. I've generally been sceptical, so being sceptical of this administration wasn't hard, but now I'm at the point that they have been so cavalier with the truth that I cannot trust a thing they say. What shocks me is not that they lie to the masses or to their critics, but that they routinely lie to their supporters, even when the lie does them no good, yet their supporters eat it up. God help us, everyone.

DaveC; belated happy birthday, and I hope your boss suddenly decides to become a reasonable person. Unreasonable bosses -- well, don't get me started. My favorite, though, was this: someone I knew was put in charge of the housing department of a crumbling city, and the mayor, after not doing any of the things he might have done to address the city's blight, would periodically call my friend into his office and say: I just got a complaint about this particular abandoned/blighted building. Aren't you supposed to be fixing all that? (As though my friend was supposed, by sheer magic and without any support whatsoever, to have made it the case that not even that ONE building was still in bad shape.)

Oddly enough, at the end of the 90's the army had similar recruiting problems though for different reasons.

The problem with solving manpower problems as they stand right now with a draft is that it takes several years to get the numbers that you want. It will also take several years to get the Iraqis who are (more or less) on our side to be able to hold down places like the restive Al Anbar province.

If (and that is a colossally big "if") the next three-ish years see an Iraqi army form that is of both decent size and willing to fight rather than run, there's a chance of avoiding a complete goat-f***.

gee, SH, why didn't the Joint Chiefs think of that?

sigh.

whenever i've been sure that i have an easy fix to a difficult problem [spam, israel, iraq, recruiting, meeting water demand in southern california], i've been wrong.

not everyone else in the world is a moron; sometimes problems are hard to solve.

DaveC, the reason that despair is beginning to set in is that the US and Iraq govt forces DO NOT and CANNOT control enormous swathes of the country, due to a lack of manpower. Insurgent forces have safe havens in country for rest, training and planning.

what happened to the loudly-announced deployment of 40,000 iraqi troops? press reports are that the iraqis aren't to be found. it appears that we have failed to create a standing iraqi army.

oops.

This discussion is interesting:

I find Hilzoy's observations regarding Bush's personality and upbringing to be convincing. I would add that when such a person then comes to believe they are "chosen" through some religious impulse, we add another dimension to the inscrutability.

But, regarding Iraq and Iran, and Social Security, the Judiciary and all else: There is very much a plan for each one of these issues hammered out in conservative think tanks and elsewhere for decades. The Republicans now have control of all three branches of government, most State governments, a good bit of the media. In George W. Bush, they found a kind of messianic personality to ram them through: not only chosen (barely) in an election but also "elected" by a higher power.....

... so with regard to someone's comment that The Republicans wish to redeem the Iran hostage crisis, finally, yes this is very possible, just as it possible that hatred of Social Security in 1937 and judicial decisions made over the last 180 years could be kept simmering until the time was right to carry out their destruction.

Witness the clinging to the notion that Watergate was merely a "third-rate burglary" and did not warrant, well, apparently much of any notice. So, add in the vengeance of the victim to the messianic urge. What Nixon should have been impeached for, the Noonans of the world believe, was starting the E.P.A.

Someone brought up the notion of the Bushies being aliens. Thats haha funny but George Bush's certainty that he is Right (on this Earth and in Heaven) and never will his mind be changed on any occasion do seem oddly not human. Think of many of the personalities of conservatism today: Cheney, Bennett, Noonan, Kudlow, Norquist, Delay, the rest. Can you cite one instance where they have ever changed their minds or conceded a point?

That reminds me of every inexorably ferocious alien from every horror movie I've ever seen. There is no bulkhead behind which you can flee, because the acid of their absolute ideology and the unearthliness of their fervor will get you. And if you resist or don't resist, or fall asleep or stay awake, they'll eat you.

Like Strelnykov (sp) from Dr. Zhivago, someone scarred George W. Bush and now he views the burning villages from his perch on the back of the train with grim smirky glee. It's too bad we need wait 3 1/2 years for him to go back to Julie Christie.

They are elected and Elected. They'll do as they please.
The rest of us can eff off.

P.S. The alien thing may be why Slartibartfast just doesn't recognize Tom Delay or Grover Norquist as fellow Republicans, but rather as objectionable personalities who appeared from the sky and who happen to be in his party. I know Slart is moody lately, so he must be reminded that's a joke. 8)

I think the point made by Bruce Baugh, and by Drum in the section quoted by hilzoy, is accurate.

There are lots of CEO's, and lower level managers as well, who think that their position simply entitles them to demand that certain things get done, without thinking about what is required, making sure subordinates have the resources needed, and that intelligent plans are in place. Ask questions and you're "being negative," or "nitpicking." I think Bush falls into this category.

Think back to the Bush-Gore debates, and "fuzzy math." One of the surest signs of this sort of individual is disdain for simple arithmetic and a preference for slogans over facts.

I have an idea: Let's not fix the military. Let's abandon it. Costa Rica does ok without one, in fact it does much better than its neighbors who did not abandon their militaries, so a military is neither necessary for a country's survival nor does it add to the country's prosperity. Get rid of it.

Oh, and if anyone is wondering why the Iraqis aren't falling all over themselves with gratitute towards the US for all it's done for them, check out this link They're probably too busy going to funerals for their kids to display proper gratitude.

why didn't the Joint Chiefs think of that?

I don't think we can blame the Joint Chiefs for most of the problems of the military these days. They report to civilians and the civilians they report to are unwilling to follow the advice of the Joint Chiefs.

I doubt that the Joint Chiefs recommended that we start to hire mercenaries and I am certain that they didn't recommend that the companies that are providing the mercenaries get to recruit folks out of the army. I doubt that they have ever recommended that we underpay our soldiers or refuse to buy enough equipment for them. I doubt that they ever recommended that we maintain an army that has commitments greater than its staffing capabilities. I doubt that they recommended that we should go to the Guard and Reserve for long-term deployments rather than increase the size of the army. I doubt that they recommended that we send too few to Iraq to do the job right.

No, the brass isn't in the position to make a public stink about how badly the Pentagon has been run for the past 54 months, but I don't think that this means that they agree with every decision made by Rumsfeld, the neocon twits under him or the President. Unfortunately, the Joint Chiefs are not the Board of Directors and they cannot fire their CEO just because he doesn't know how to run the place.

Unfortunately, the Joint Chiefs are not the Board of Directors and they cannot fire their CEO just because he doesn't know how to run the place.

And the nail on the head prize goes to freelunch.

Two thoughts:

(1) I don't see war with Iran this summer. There's been no prep for it by the Bushies. Where are the loyal MSM articles on the wicked Iranians, their plans for world domination, their designs on America, etc.? Air strikes are possible, for reasons I'll go into in (2).

(2) Gross negligence seems more plausible, as an explanation for the Iraq debacle, than some Master Plan. One explanation for the carelessness we've seen is that, contra some appearances, Bush really has no foreign policy to speak of, besides "get re-elected" (done!) and "retain Republican control of government." I think we can rest assured that there's not a move being made strictly on the merits; it's all being calculated for "what will help us secure our base and continue to retain power?"

Air strikes on Iran would be a popular success with the voters that Bush et al. think they need. The terrible lesson of 2004, to Bush & Rove, was that they could ignore the center, do whatever the hell they wanted, and rely on character attacks (& Democrat ineptitude) to win anyway, so long as they held the base. Hence the puzzling (to us) moves on Social Security, judicial nominations, etc. None of it has to make sense; it just has to keep the base active.

Air strikes on Iran would be a popular success with the voters that Bush et al. think they need.

then we should expect them to come in the late summer of 06. though perhaps as late as "30 days before the US Congressional elections".

Would airstrikes really help get Republicans elected? I understand about motivating the base-- , appeal to primitive instincts, etc-- but the base is not a majority anywhere except in a few highly concentrated districts. Is it really possible that moderate Republicans and independents would fail to summon up some skepticism? Right now something like 57% of the population thinks we shouldn't have gone to war in Iraq. (Some polls on Donkey Rising about a week ago). It just amazes me that people would be willing to back airstrikes based on Bush administration assessments and arguments, given our experience with Iraq. It isn't provable, of course, but I think Bush got the go-ahead for Iraq because the country was seized by war fever and wanted a victory against somebody, somewhere. The idea of a quick, easy victory was appealing. I really don't think the same war fever exists now. But I was naive before, and I could be naive again.

1) For reasons military, diplomatic, political and ideological(Cheney really really hates the War Powers Act), I think they do not give warning or prepare the country. They learned a lesson last time.

2) I think they do it this year. There are things that can go wrong, which given time can be spun, but they do need the time. So very close to elections is very dangerous.

3) This is not Iraq. It will not simply be airstrikes. Iran has a military and a functioning economy and people in charge with some better competence and sanity. They will of course lose a war...sort of, we are going to occupy Iran...but they will hurt us, do us significant damage. There will be other major consequences. I can't predict them.

4) I can predict that as the situation goes South, America starts becoming internally violent. It is useful to look at the tail end of the Nixon years. As catastrophe mounts, the Republican base will cling ever tighter to their Leader, and look for external reasons for the problems. John Thullen may get his opportunities.

Do not misunderestimate these people. Bush/Cheney/Rove want to change America, and change the world, as much or more than any other event in American history. Bush looks at FDR, keeps referring to FDR. Reagan was small potatoes. And Iraq was a tiny little war. They may want a war the size of FDR's war.

(Long time reader, first response, please don't rip me to shreds - grin)

Regarding the Iran attack thing. I think - and have written in a few places - that what the folk pushing are expecting is the following scenario:

1) PR and news that Iran refuses to stop building its nuke program, specifically the nuke reactor.
2) US/Israel airstrike (explanation follows) on the reactor and at least three and up to 12 of the nuclear support sites (development, assembly, storage).
3) Iran responds by declaring straits of Hormuz closed to US traffic due to declaration of war. Additionally it seizes US freighters and/or sends raids against US forces in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.
4) US handily defeats these insignificant threats and uses this as reason to roll into Iran.
5) Iran military falls as easily as Iraq military did.
6) Iran's "domestic rebellion", however, does what didn't happen in Iraq and establishes a pro-US government (while waving flags and throwing flowers and all that imagery.)

Note for step one that the PR's been ongoing. In fact there've been a few incidents that raise the noise level - the test-firing of the 2000 km ranged missile; the allegation that North Korea has actually given one of its nukes to Iran; etc. Expect the EU attempt to get a compromise to fail - or to be claimed as inadequate and so a failure - in the next couple of weeks.

Step two - Israel is now able (barely) to strike all the Iranian points without flying through US controlled airspace, thus giving a degree of plausible deniability. However, about a month ago we sold them almost all our older deep-penetration "bunker buster" bombs, which are what will be necessary to hit most of the Iranian alleged nuke facilities.

Step three is where I think the plan falls apart for the administration. The problem is oil. We're bumping up against the limits of production capacity in our demand - the various official agencies say the buffer is in the 1-3 million barrel per day (1-3 mbbl/d) range. Iran produces ~4 mbbl/d, and a lot more passes through the straits on US owned and US flagged ships. In addition to the general economic risk created there, I note that the number one recipient of Iranian oil is China - and Iran is the largest source for China's imported oil. At a minimum I would expect China to be unhappy about the resulting economic disruption.

In short, the plan is fairly straitforward tactically but it focuses solely locally (regionally) without considering the strategic issues. Oh - and it assumes that "everyone under oppressive regimes really love us and want us to free them."

Sebastian, this is an administration who doesn't want to spend sh*t on armor, combat pay or veterans' benefits, unless forced. Which is a shocking slap in the face to one of their core constituencies. So the prospect of spending very large sums of money on troop pay is out of the question. Stop-loss orders and long, repeated NG/Reserve deployments are much cheaper.

lily: I am not a good prognostigator (is that how it's spelled?)

Jeremy Osner: Indeed.

A good dictionary: prognosticator.

Sebastian's suggestion makes eminent good sense. But it would take money, and the Bush Administration absolutely refuses to raise taxes for any reason. So I suspect they will start edging towards a draft soon. Bet there will be some convenient exemptions.

d'oh!

SH's argument makes eminent sense only if the reason for the drop-off in recruiting is attributable to low wages.

If, by contrast, recruiting drop-offs are due to parents not wanting to contribute their kids to a meat grinder, then upping the wage to the point that they are gives rise to an argument that the volunteer force is being turned into a mercenary force.

"Oh really, and exactly how much do you think it will cost to bribe an 18 year old to risk his life in Iraq?"

Probably in the $10,000-$20,000 per year more than the pay is now range. Young men are notoriously willing to risk their lives for all sorts of things.

"Sebastian's suggestion makes eminent good sense. But it would take money, and the Bush Administration absolutely refuses to raise taxes for any reason. So I suspect they will start edging towards a draft soon."

This strikes me as a bit odd. I find it highly unlikely that mild tax increases or mild fund cutting needed to raise military pay would be more politically painful than a draft. Do you think otherwise?

I can think of some farm subsidies which could be better spent on military pay increases and which would have the additional laudable effect of allowing poor African nations to do better by allowing them to compete in one of the few economic sectors they are well positioned for. Of course cutting farm subsidies may be the one thing less politically possible than the draft so I'll admit that is just a fantasy situation where rational political decisions are possible. But even in our world I strongly suspect that higher taxes or some other sort of cut is much more likely than a draft.

I think a prognostigator is a large bayou reptile that knows in advance when it's going to bite your leg off.

Well, McManus may be right (tho I bet he hopes not), but I don't see that the administration has anything to fear from a propaganda build-up. What's Congress going to do? Nothing.

Getting the country afraid of Iran appears necessary; the sane reaction, if we went in (say) July 1, with no warmup, would be "what the hell is Bush doing?" Whereas a few weeks of Fox telling everyone that the ayatollahs want to blow up the Mall of America would help make (enough) people too scared to think.

Lily may be right that the 57% wouldn't stand for it, but I'd imagine that the Bushies think that working up The Big Fear will swing enough into the "gotta stop Iran" camp. I mean, this member of the Axis o' Evil actually has a nuke program. Easy sell!

The only alternative to a propaganda buildup is a sudden strike with the President going on TV to say that he's averted an impending threat, Fox saying how brave Bush is for doing what's unpopular, etc. The Iranian reaction might give Bush the war he wants, with the country rallying against those wicked Iranian animals that defend themselves when attacked. ---So McManus could be right after all!

P.S.---Someone remind me when/why we quit calling Iran Persia?

Someone remind me when/why we quit calling Iran Persia?

According to this, in 1935.

In 1935, [Reza Shah Pahlavi] officially requested all foreign governments to no longer refer to Iran as Persia, but as Iran. (The Iranian people themselves had always referred to their country as Iran.)

Thanks, Jes (I was too lazy to Google). Apparently "Persia" is a ancient Greek imposition.

Reminds me that my tabby cat is named after a Baghdad suburb. We keep warning him that Alberto Gonzales is going to send him to Gitmo, but he disregards our puny human threats, despite numerous incidents of terrorist activity (shredding couch, knocking over lamp, etc.).

never will his mind be changed on any occasion
Of course Bush's mind has changed on various points: the Department of Homeland Security, the Iraqi election schedule, internationalization of the Iraqi cleanup (stolen from Kerry during the campaign, but even less doable with Bush in charge), the ever-changing reasons for the Iraq war, negotiation with Sadr, and on and on. The problem is that whenever he does, his supporters and the sheeplike media immediately accept the rewriting of history and it turns out we've always been at war with East Asia.

Sebastian, the administration has made it quite clear that troop pay is far lower on their priority list than agricultural subsidies or anything else aside from aid to the poor and helpless. A draft would be politically impossible now, and won't become possible unless there's a massive terrorist attack on the US or the administration increases control over the US by even more than now.

However, there is an alternative - break the Army and Marine Corps. After all, either (a) the GOP will remain in power and dealing with that will be more than compensated by the fruits of continued power or (b) the Democrats will take the Presidency and have to clean up the mess, while being blamed by the GOP and its media hirelings.

|Unfortunately, the Joint Chiefs are not the Board of |Directors and they cannot fire their CEO just because he |doesn't know how to run the place.

Yeah, if it's all the same to you, I'd rather keep it that way. There are already plenty of countries where the top generals have an (informal) impeachment option....

--John

Oh really, and exactly how much do you think it will cost to bribe an 18 year old to risk his life in Iraq?

according to the NY Times, more and more it's the 18 year old's parents who need bribing.


If 18-year-olds weren't unusually open to the idea of killing & being killed, history would look very different.

I find it highly unlikely that mild tax increases or mild fund cutting needed to raise military pay would be more politically painful than a draft. Do you think otherwise?

We are talking about a fair amount of money. We have an Army of 500,000. Give them a $10,000 raise. Add another 250,000 at, say, $40,000/year average. You're up to $15 billion, with no benefits, allowances, bonuses, etc. And that's just the Army. The other services will get raises also. You can judge for yourself whether these numbers are unreasonable in light of current pay scales.

So we're getting close to the amount of money collected in estate taxes every year. That seems to be an issue. So while I agree with you that are ways to finance this without additional borrowing, I don't think Bush agrees that the needed fiscal adjustments would be mild.

I'm not convinced that, from a partisan Republican point of view, a draft would be seen as more painful than asking for a tax increase of $20-30 billion. Asking for that sum, bad enough, would also open the entire question of raising taxes to pay for the war in general. That could really start to hurt.

Bear in mind that I'm quite cynical about the draft. Restricted to males, a draft of 250,000 soldiers would pull in less than 2% of the military-age population. Given that, most of those with money or influence will find a way to avoid service, or dangerous service at least. And of course we won't escape some added expense.The expansion would surely cost in the vicinity of $7-8 billion - $30,000/soldier - even with a draft. so the financing problem doesn't go away entirely.

Seb: Interestingly, I just got an email from the Clark people saying:

"This Monday marks the 61st Anniversary of D-Day, an epic event in the history of our nation and the world. While we take time to remember this historic day and thank those brave liberators who defended freedom in Europe and around the world, it's also important to ask whether we're doing everything we can to honor the sacrifice of today's armed forces and veterans, as America did with the first GI Bill.

In just the past 2 ½ years, more than 400,000 of our National Guard and Reserves have been called up to active duty. In fact, Reserve Components make up nearly half of our forces in Iraq.

Last week, House Democrats, led by my friend Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi, attempted to do more to honor our Guard and Reserves for their sacrifice. The House Armed Services Committee passed a bipartisan amendment to provide full access to TRICARE - the military health program - to all members of the Guard and Reserves and their families, a gap in our military health system that is long overdue to be fixed.

Yet despite the fact that 20% of our Reservists lack health insurance, Republican Chairman Duncan Hunter stripped this common sense amendment from the bill, denying our Guard and Reserve the health care benefits they deserve, claiming we couldn't afford it."

Makes you wonder.

"Getting the country afraid of Iran appears necessary; the sane reaction, if we went in (say) July 1, with no warmup, would be "what the hell is Bush doing?" Whereas a few weeks of Fox telling everyone that the ayatollahs want to blow up the Mall of America would help make (enough) people too scared to think."

What possible reason do you have for thinking that the ayatollahs wouldn't love to blow up the Mall of America if they thought they could get away with it?

"However, there is an alternative - break the Army and Marine Corps."

That's not an alternative to the draft - that's a result of a draft. We got rid of the draft for a damn good reason... besides the immorality of imposing involuntary servitude on American citizens, the draft only appears to work when it's completely superfluous, when the vast majority of the "draftees" would have volunteered anyway. If that's not the case, you're screwed in the field and you get lots of (completely understandable) unrest at home.

A draft isn't a solution. It's a pretense at a solution. If we can't stop the mullahs from getting nukes without a draft, then we will lose the war on terror and we will get attacked here at home regularly once the Iranians acquire nuclear invulnerability from invasion, and all this will happen whether or not we have a draft. All a draft will do is make things worse.

Why do you think the Iranians will nuke us here? I thought the problem was that supposedly the Iranians might decide to attack Isreal or they might decide to leak materials to terrorist groups.

What possible reason do you have for thinking that the ayatollahs wouldn't love to blow up the Mall of America if they thought they could get away with it?

First, please show me where I said that. The "if" clause is important.

Your reflections on the draft are interesting but not entirely persuasive. There's a big difference between thinking "my neighbor should go fight the Nazis" and "I myself should go fight the Nazis." We would not have had our 10 million in uniform during WW2 without the draft.

Nor am I persuaded that we will be subject to repeated attacks just because the Iranians have the Bomb. If Iran were so foolish as to support a serious terror campaign against the domestic U.S., we would nuke them. Period. Does anyone doubt this?

See, here we go:

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. intelligence and foreign allies have growing evidence that wanted terrorists have been residing in Iran despite repeated American warnings to Tehran not to harbor them.

The evidence, which stretches over several years, includes communications by a fugitive mastermind of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing and the capture of a Saudi militant who appeared in a video in which Osama bin Laden confirmed he ordered the Sept. 11 attacks, according to U.S. and foreign officials.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because much of the evidence remains classified. * * *

Top administration officials have repeatedly warned Iran against harboring or assisting suspected terrorists.

U.S. intelligence this week has been checking some reports, still uncorroborated as of Friday, that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's leader of the Iraqi insurgency, may have dipped into Iran, officials said.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned countries in the Middle East not to help al-Zarqawi.

"Were a neighboring country to take him in and provide medical assistance or haven for him, they, obviously, would be associating themselves with a major linkage in the al-Qaida network and a person who has a great deal of blood on his hands," Rumsfeld said.

If it's going to be war, we'll see a lot more of this stuff(unless the "hit them & then cry when they hit back" plan is used).

There's a big difference between thinking "my neighbor should go fight the Nazis" and "I myself should go fight the Nazis."

Even more pointedly, there's a big difference between thinking "The Nazis should be fought" and "I myself should go fight the Nazis." That difference gets even more dramatic -- at least, based on some rather mundane observations the past four years -- when you look at the difference between "The terrorists should be fought" and "I myself should go fight the terrorists", let alone when you start comparing things like "The terrorists should be fight" v. "I myself should go fight in Iraq".

FWIW, I'll note that I guessed that a draft might be necessary back in August 2002 and became convinced that it would be (and still is) necessary by early 2003. I haven't seen anything since to convince me otherwise, though naturally I hope I'm wrong.

If it's going to be war, we'll see a lot more of this stuff...

Oy. One can only hope they're familiar with the fable about the Boy Who Cried Wolf...

The Boy Who Cried Wolf didn't have Karl Rove working for him. In fact, remember the "Wolves" commercial?

hilzoy: Makes you wonder.

Have the Clark people sent you anything (recently) about the Bush Administration cuts to veteran's benefits and health care? Are more expected? Is this an ongoing quest? Does it look like they'll be reversed? I haven't heard anything since the election and I'm kinda curious...

On military discharges for alcohol or other drug abuse:

Based on my experience in the Army (Infantry, Germany, 1990-93), you have got to have a serious problem, be an incredible f***-up, or otherwise be terribly unlucky to get a discharge for drug or alcohol abuse. A couple of examples (for the sake of levity):

A buddy of mine had a problem with alcohol. This was common knowledge as he frequently used his wall locker for a urinal when under the influence. We often had to steer him to the latrine when he attempted to use our lockers for the same purpose. Now, drinking to excess and the resulting behavior is not uncommon for soldiers – after a night at the local beer tent during Oktoberfest, my friends and I were unable to find the door on the drunk bus when it came to collect us. But this guy’s drinking was a bit over the top, even by soldier’s standards.

Despite his history with alcohol, it was not until an incident at an NCO wives’ luncheon in the barrack’s rec room provided the straw that led to his discharge. While they were enjoying the afternoon, my buddy, drunk as a skunk, walked into the room, pulled out his c***, and, to the shock and awe of the assembled wives, relieved himself in the garbage can.

The entry for the f***-up category belongs to a guy I’ll call “Bob” who attempted to mail home a bag of Turkish hash. Remarkably, he wrote his return address on the package. But, thinking he was being sneaky, only included his initials over the address. The German post returned the package for insufficient postage. However, there was a lieutenant in Bob’s company with his same initials. The mail clerk, thinking that was to whom the package belonged, handed it to the lieutenant who opened it and said, “Why, this isn’t my hash?” And Bob was hauled away by the MPs. Shortly after, the CID guys (Criminal Investigation Command) put Bob under the hot lights and he started naming names of anyone he could think of who had any connection with drugs in hopes of a lighter sentence. A wonderful time of drug-sniffing dogs and barracks searches ensued.

One of the most vile crimes a soldier can commit, no matter what the reason, is to nark out a fellow soldier, and Bob had named some friends of my buddies and mine. Such offenses do not go unpunished.

A short time later our battalion was in the field on a winter training exercise with Bob in tow since the criminal proceedings were still in the works. With the aid of some night vision goggles, a couple of buddies and I snuck into Bob’s tent, removed his boots from under his cot, filled them with the contents from our bowels and bladders, and put them back where we found them. Now, after a couple of weeks of eating MREs, which makes the sweat and everything else that comes out of your body reek like the MREs themselves, our contribution to Bob’s footwear was a particularly foul cocktail.

The next morning as we are chewing our coffee – our cooks didn’t use filters but just dumped the grounds into a big pot of water – we hear Bob let out a scream as his feet found their way into those boots. As fortune and Bob’s stupidity would have it, these were the only pair of boots he’d brought to the field and was forced to wear them for the next several weeks.

I can’t imagine that field commanders are happy about having to keep folks like this. Many of them already complain about the quality, from their perspective, of the enlistees that recruiting sergeants send them (e.g. the “just-in-it-for-the-college-money” folks are not always popular with careerists).

The Boy Who Cried Wolf didn't have Karl Rove working for him. In fact, remember the "Wolves" commercial?

Puppies! :D

[I tried to find the Poor Man's wondrous storyboards but they seem to have disappeared into the ether.]

What possible reason do you have for thinking that the ayatollahs wouldn't love to blow up the Mall of America if they thought they could get away with it?

The "ayatollahs" are very religious and follow domestic policies that I find abhorrent, but I've seen no evidence that they're suicidally insane. Just the opposite--they seem to be very crafty and patient players. Having a nuke around to check Israel's nukes is very different from using a nuke offensively against a country with the ability to deliver thousands of warheads anywhere on the planet within the hour. I'm personally more worried about North Korea than Iran, because the latter is not run by psychopaths.

"Why do you think the Iranians will nuke us here? I thought the problem was that supposedly the Iranians might decide to attack Isreal or they might decide to leak materials to terrorist groups. "

They won't nuke us here - they're not that crazy. But a conventional attack - that's a different story. Would we accept a nuclear exchange in retaliation for another 9/11? The ayatollahs might figure that we wouldn't.

"Your reflections on the draft are interesting but not entirely persuasive. There's a big difference between thinking "my neighbor should go fight the Nazis" and "I myself should go fight the Nazis." We would not have had our 10 million in uniform during WW2 without the draft."

Really? Recruiting stations were mobbed after Pearl Harbor, and would have been if we hadn't had the draft. Draft resistance was practically nil, legions of people joined who could have gotten out of it, and so on. Recruiting would not have been a problem, so the draft "worked".

"Nor am I persuaded that we will be subject to repeated attacks just because the Iranians have the Bomb. If Iran were so foolish as to support a serious terror campaign against the domestic U.S., we would nuke them. Period. Does anyone doubt this?"

If they stuck to conventional attacks, lots of people would doubt this. No nukes were dropped anywhere after 9/11, and we didn't even get Pakistan to let American forces make a serious effort to find bin Laden there. Would you support a nuclear attack on Iran after one 9/11 style attack, knowing that Iran would retaliate and multiply the total American dead by a factor of 1000? How about 5 attacks? How about 20?

What do you think support for a nuclear exchange would be nationwide? Are you sure? Do you think the ayatollahs would be sure?

"I'm personally more worried about North Korea than Iran, because the latter is not run by psychopaths."

No, but the latter is run by evil bastards who think infidels should die for their refusal to submit to Islam and are only holding back because they don't yet have the upper hand. And we can still deprive them of nukes without a nuclear exchange, whereas we can't with North Korea. I can't think of any reason not to, even if it means we have trouble babysitting Iraq or Europe for a while.

Not only that, if Iran gets nukes, Iraq is screwed. Iranian "insurgents" will flood the country and make today's "insurgency" look like a vacation in paradise. And that's the end of our presence in the Middle East and our ongoing efforts to disrupt various terrorist operations, which will be more than welcome in the new nuclear-armed Iran and throughout the region. You can figure it a half-dozen ways from there, all bad.

I think that "screwing up the occupation" in Iran is a much better choice, all things considered.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Exhibit A of "why sane people should never let neoconservatives within a parsec of foreign policy for a very long time to come". When your best justification for invading yet another country boils down to "we can't possibly make things worse than they already are", you are having a frightening failure of imagination.

otto, great story!

Otto's story reminds me of an ex-friend who was tossed from the army after he came home drunk (a common occurence) and found that his roommate had locked him out of the apartment. He knocked until the roommate woke up and opened the door, then proceeded to throw the roommate out the (2nd story) window, run downstairs, and start beating the crap out of the (shaken, but mostly unhurt) roommate until the MPs showed up to pull him off.

J's father was a vet (master sergeant IIRC who served in Korea) who had to pull in every favor he had to get J. a general discharge and no record. J's the first person I thought of when I read the story. Just the type we need to keep in the service. Heavens help these people's squadmates.

I would imagine that the ayatollahs would love to blow up the Mall of America if they thought they could get away with it. I would imagine further that how to encourage others to blow up the Mall of America is a recurring topic of discussion by Iranian military planners, just as nuking Tehran is a recurring topic of discussion by US military planners. The thing is, a blown up Mall of America is not necessarily a good thing from the Iranian POV. People rushing to recruiting stations and whatnot.

It may be hard to see this from the inside, but the world, particularly the people who have seen the pointy end of our foreign policy now views the US pretty much as a cornered and wounded, but still terribly dangerous animal. There are many people who would love to give us the pointy end for a change, and maybe even polish us off for good, but nobody sane wants to be first to give us the pointy end. That's just asking to get hurt. Better to wait until something distracts us and see what kind of opportunities present themselves. For Iranians in particular, both time and economics are on their side.

See, the MAD strategy works fine. Nothing to worry about...

Ken: And we can still deprive them of nukes without a nuclear exchange

I doubt that very very much. We might have been able to deprive Iran of nukes if we hadn't invaded Iraq. Europe and India pressuring Pakistan plus China pressuring NK might be able to deprive Iran of nukes now (at least for another decade or so) if everybody agreed that it was truly desirable. Us, now? Color me skeptical.

I would imagine that the ayatollahs would love to blow up the Mall of America if they thought they could get away with it. I would imagine further that how to encourage others to blow up the Mall of America is a recurring topic of discussion by Iranian military planners, just as nuking Tehran is a recurring topic of discussion by US military planners. The thing is, a blown up Mall of America is not necessarily a good thing from the Iranian POV. People rushing to recruiting stations and whatnot.

Ken
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is precisely the same thinking that led to the internment of Japanese-Americans in WWII, which were driven by notions that the Japanese were poised to invade the West Coast with paratroopers and tanks. While it may be difficult to admit that there is a rationality involved (the base assumptions may be far from any you or I would take) there is one and assuming that they want (to the point of planning and setting things into motion) to strike at the Mall of the Americas or try and have a mosque in Peoria is moving towards the notion that, given the forces arrayed, our nation, our society, and our culture is in mortal danger of survival, kept solvent only by a last ditch stand. It doesn't really reflect reality.

I once had a friend who had lived in base housing and had acrimonious upstairs neighbors. One fine evening, when Deb and her family were outside eating on their patio, they heard screams from upstairs, something to the effect of "You no good --------all you ever do is drink annd watch TV!" Then the sixpack can flying out the window. Followed by the Tv. Followed by the couch. (That took awhile) Last, kicking and screaming, butt first, came the husband. I'm not sure what the moral is to this story.

Anarch, Clark has a website and I receive updates from him periodically. In fact I just got one today about the "GI Bill Of Rights". I don't know how to post links, but you can find it easily under SecuringAmerica or Clark for President, then look down the list Google throws up for the SecuringAmerica site.
I wish he had been picked for VP. Sigh.

Clark's website is here; you can sign up for email updates.

To this day, I can't believe we didn't nominate him. I have never, ever felt as strongly about a candidate. I can still remember the first time I saw him (other than on CNN), and nearly fainted dead away at the thought: my lord, someone I agree with on almost everything, someone with ideals and vision and serious leadership, is actually a serious candidate for President. No more compromises and 'oh, I suppose I can live with that'; someone I can actually be fully enthusiastic about. (OK, I later had to 'live with' his views on flag-burning, but hey: a small price to pay.)

Sorry: the website took me back ;)

"While it may be difficult to admit that there is a rationality involved (the base assumptions may be far from any you or I would take) there is one and assuming that they want (to the point of planning and setting things into motion) to strike at the Mall of the Americas or try and have a mosque in Peoria is moving towards the notion that, given the forces arrayed, our nation, our society, and our culture is in mortal danger of survival, kept solvent only by a last ditch stand. It doesn't really reflect reality."

No, those are two entirely separate notions. It's undeniable that Muslim fanatics consider it their religious duty to kill infidels, and thus it's reasonable to expect them to blow up American buildings full of civilian infidels as soon as they think they can get away with it. That doesn't mean that they will manage to destroy our society, our nation, or our culture, but it does mean that American buildings full of civilian infidels will become piles of rubble full of dead civilian infidels. Is it worth it to go back on the offensive in the War on Terror to prevent that? I say yes.

"....I don't know how to post links...

So you've said, and each time I post this.

Once again, see here.

To link: <A HREF="URL">word</A>

Okay? Got it? Any questions?

"It's undeniable that Muslim fanatics consider it their religious duty to kill infidels, and thus it's reasonable to expect them to blow up American buildings full of civilian infidels as soon as they think they can get away with it."

And the people of Iraq fit this description - how?

When you say "go back on the offensive," what exactly do you mean? Invading more countries? How does this offensive strategy fit in with the deterioriation of our armed forces? Or haven't you noticed that?

Bush's "WoT" is counterproductive. It's made us more enemies, it's made more terrorists. It's chewing up our soldiers, and people aren't exactly storming the recruiting offices to replace them.

What good is a war strategy that exacerbates the problem it was ostensibly supposed to solve?


I would imagine that the ayatollahs would love to blow up the Mall of America if they thought they could get away with it.
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It's undeniable that Muslim fanatics consider it their religious duty to kill infidels, and thus it's reasonable to expect them to blow up American buildings full of civilian infidels as soon as they think they can get away with it.

Again, I would ask you to consider how easily you leap from Iranian Ayatollahs to Muslim fanatics. Consider that Sistani (who I believe was roundly denounced as an Iranian puppet) may have been the only thing that kept Sadr in line. I believe there are some here who are much better versed, but it seems that it was the US that changed course in 2002.

In addition, Pakistan, our loyal ally in the War on Terror, is holding joint naval exercises with those Muslim fanatics who are aiming for American buildings full of infidels. Hey, either you are with us or you are against us, right?

And being fanatics, they might not be so happy about infidels, be they in China or Russia or even Japan. I'm sure those guys are going to regret being tricked by those fanatical Iranians.

It's undeniable that Muslim fanatics consider it their religious duty to kill infidels, and thus it's reasonable to expect them to blow up American buildings full of civilian infidels as soon as they think they can get away with it.

The key phrase that you're ignoring in your lust for a Crusade is bolded. "Getting away with it", for heads of state, means ensuring the continuity of their state, and more importantly, the continuity of their rule. This is why all the conjecture about Saddam, a secular leader marked for death by bin Laden, giving WMD to al Qaeda was laughable to anyone who knew what they were talking about. This is why Kim Jong-Il, a man on whom we cannot necessarily count to act rationally, is so dangerous. And this is why any talk of invading Iran to stop them from nuking or attacking the US is the batshit insane fantasy of people who should never be let anywhere near foreign policy.

LJ, I don't understand your point about establishing a mosque in Peoria, but of course there already is one (which, as far as I've heard, has not been sending out squads of suicide bombers).

LJ, I don't understand your point about establishing a mosque in Peoria, but of course there already is one (which, as far as I've heard, has not been sending out squads of suicide bombers).

whoops. At any rate, my point is that I don't think that Iran is planning a remake of 'Red Dawn'.

Gary, the question I would like to ask you would violate posting rules, so I will refrain. Instead please think about the last time you tried to learn something that was utterly alien to your nature. Did you enjoy the experience? Were you successful? Did you retain the learning? Probably not. I am very good at learning anything that involves three dimensions, aesthetics, or abstact ideas not related to mathematics. I am unable, so far, to learn more than the absolute minimum about computers. The incompreshensible gooble-de-gook you post is not helpful. Nor is the impatient, sneering tone.

Lily: as someone whose entire knowledge of html has been picked up on the fly since I started posting here, my sympathies. The link Gary posted is a good one, though, and worth bookmarking. And the gobbledygook:

word

Copy that, and keep it handy somewhere. Then just replace 'URL' with the address you want someone to go to when they click the link (copy it from your browser when you're on that page), and 'word' with whatever you want to show up.

Thus, if I want to write 'Here is the Obwi main page' and have 'Here' be a clickable link, I substitute 'Here' for 'word' in what Gary typed, and 'http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/' (our address) for 'url'. (Without the apostrophes, of course.)

I can't vouch for the authenticity of this memo (via dKos) but, if it's true... that's disturbing.

Anarch: it's the very memo my initial post discusses ;)

Er.... doh? Yes. Doh.

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