Thursday, December 07, 2006

Relief And Anger Over New Iraq Report, What's Next?

Nothing. President Bush is awaiting two additional reports, one from his friends down at the Pentagon and one from his buddies at The Justice Department, before he is going to decide on how to access the situation.

After The President has reviewed all three assessments he will then give a televised address to tell the nation and the world on what the next step will be.

I would be very surprised to see President Bush change is mind and I expect it will take more pressure to break the levee that is his will.

Rather, I expect the reports coming out of the Pentagon and out of the Justice Department to more or less encourage the battle in Iraq to be an open ended occupation.

The Iraq Study Group was composed of mostly old timer Republicans and Democrats, none of which has expertise in any field relating to the Middle East, rather the panel consulted with the experts for their information to draw their conclusions.

The report has drawn praise, criticism, relief, anger and confusion.

A lot of criticism is coming from some conservatives and Jewish who are asking what the Israeli - Arab conflict had to do with Iraq.

Well, it doesn't really. Israel has as much to do with Iraq as Iraq had to do with 9/11 and President Bush has so long demanded that the Iraq War was part of the War on Terror and interconnected the two so intimately.

So now that we are talking about the Iraq War, we have to talk about The War On Terror, and if one is sincere about the stated intentions of The War On Terror, then one has to seriously and sincerely address the Israeli-Arab peace process. It is a view that has been been previously expressed by moderate leaders in the Middle East, Kofi Annan and Tony Blair.

Democratic Senator and Iraq War opponent John Murtha was not pleased with the report and said it "is no different than the current policy.'' in a statement and that "Staying in Iraq is not an option politically, militarily or fiscally,'' .

Republican John Mccain, who is considering a Presidential run in 2008 for the CONservative party complained "I do not agree that you can take the trainers that are necessary, much less the troops that are necessary, from the existing forces there,''

The Presidential hopeful continued "There is only one thing worse than an overstressed military, and that's a defeated military"

That's really the kind of logic that needs to be punched in the nose. It's not defeat, it's called trying to speed up the processes and try to help Iraq stand on it's own and really see if a Democracy in Iraq is actually viable.
People like Mccain need to be told that things cannot be forced into existence by the sheer will of the stubborn alone.

There was also relief across the board with many expressing the hope that President Bush would consider changes to his open ended policy in Iraq and the Middle East. There was also reportedly some anger from sects within Iraq who felt they were not represented in the report.

The report offers 79 separate recommendations and can be read in PDF form on CNN.Com.

While the report offers recommendations of change most of the suggestions are nothing new and many have been offered by Democrats in the past and criticized as "cut and run" strategy's.

It is also unlikely the ISG's report will have much of a long term impact. Soon the Pentagon and the Justice Department will release their assessments on Iraq and they are likely uphold and reinforce the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld mantra and we will be staying the course again in no time.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Will The ISG Report On Iraq Change US Policy?

Today the Iraq Study Group released it's much anticipated report on Iraq, which was given to President Bush early this morning in Washington D.C.

Key recommendations are as follows [ Source : CNN ]
• Change diplomatic and military missions
• Engage Iran and Syria to address border, insurgency and reconciliation issues
• Renew commitment to comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace and provide additional support to Afghanistan as part of regional approach
• Evolve U.S. military role to support Iraqi Army units as Iraq moves to take responsibility for security sooner
• Move all U.S. combat brigades not needed for protection out of Iraq by first quarter of 2008
• Make no open-ended commitment to Iraq to keep large numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq
• Improve Iraq's criminal justice system, oil sector, U.S. reconstruction efforts
• Implement recommendations in coordinated fashion

Read PDF of full report on CNN.Com.

These are suggestions that certain journalist, bloggers and Democrats have suggested in the past, this report offers nothing new, except that it comes from the hands of a bipartisan panel, which may help give the document more weight.

Now that the report has been released the next big question is will President Bush accept any of the advice which has been offered to him?

My other question is, has President Bush been shown enough opposition from both Republicans and Democrats to put him in the position that he is forced to change the course he has so readily stayed?

I don't believe so, but I would love to be proven wrong.

Suggestions in the report include to renew US commitment to comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, a process that has been largely abandoned in recent years.

The conflict is a constant source of animosity for many moderate and extremist Arabs alike. Neutralizing the Arab-Israeli conflict is essential to the struggle against terrorism and must be adequately and fairly addressed if goals of peace in the Middle East are sincere.

Also included are suggestions that the United States engage with Iran and Syria regarding the porous borders, their contribution to the insurgency and reconciliation, presumably between Sunni and Shia factions, as well as nationally. My question is how does anyone actually see that as being realistic? Sure, it sounds nice, but...

Furthermore, what would posses the Iranians, avowed enemy of the United States for decades now, to help the Americans and the Iraqi's, when both countries have been Iran's enemy in the past? Taking it a step further, if the Iranians did help, would that not be basically handing the keys of Mesopotamia over to what could become an Iranian superpower on it's way to being a nuclear superpower?

The report also suggests for the US to gradually evolve U.S. military role to support Iraqi Army units, something we have are already attempting do to.

In my view it is not the number of Iraqi forces that is inadequate, it is the quality of these forces that is inadequate. While some are brave individuals working to salvage their country others are loyal to sectarian militias, and some Iraqi's have, specifically in al-Anbar province complained that US troops treat them more humanely than Iraqi forces, who are often from out of the area.

What is needed is more oversight of Iraqi forces, training that does not only involve weapons training but ethics training. Better organization is needed so it is known what forces are operating in what areas and what times, making it easier to determine who is responsible for the infamous death squads in police and military uniform.

The report also recommends making no open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq. I haven't heard that one before, I haven't heard the Democrats saying one that for years now...

Improving Iraq's criminal justice system, oil sector, and U.S. reconstruction efforts are also on the ISG's laundry list of things to do.

What "criminal justice" system is this report talking about? I have heard that Iraqi's often do not even report kidnappings and murders because they do not trust the police. If there was some type of effective criminal justice system there is no way all this violence could continue unchecked. Improve the system? I think you need to create it first.

Oil sector and reconstruction efforts? This is the part of the report that entities like Halliburton are waiting for. This is where their big money lies, when they charge the US taxpayers for jobs they never do and still win contact after contact for the "reconstruction" effort. Their guys on the ground making ~ $17,000 (US) a month while US soldiers get about $2,000 (US) a month. The comparison is a travesty, so who do you think wants the war to continue? The US soldiers or defense contractors and mercenaries?

It is important that the oil sector be repaired and protected, but not for the benefit of America but for the benefit of Iraq, this money can be used to improve infastructure and living conditions of Iraqi's. Suggestions should have been made to reduce or eliminate Iraqi debt and to offer low interest loans to the country for security and infastructure related expenditures.

However, the most disappointing thing about the report is that none of the suggestions actually seem to be new, and furthermore it is doubtful if President Bush, the Vice President Cheney and their new Rummy - Robert Gates will actually implement the much needed changes.

When receiving the report this morning President Bush craftily stated that he would "consider all suggestions" in the report, but did not in any way indicate support or agreement with the reports assessment.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gates On Track To Become Next Secretary Of Defense

Related -
LA Times Hints of a Rumsfeld-ian style
LA Times Has Gates learned his lesson?
Washington Post For Defense Nominee, Echoes of Old Questions Gates Criticized on Handling of Intelligence at CIA
DOL Robert Gates, White House Appeaser?

Today the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved the confirmation of Robert Gates as new Defense Secretary, which will send the nomination to full Senate.

It seems as if America is so eager to have Donald Rumsfeld gone they do not even care who heads the Pentagon, as long as it was not Rumsfeld.

But is Gates the right man for the job or is he a Rummy in sheep's clothing?

While television news had failed to illuminate the viewing audience of the history of Robert Gates the newspapers of this great country have not failed us this time, and for those of us who were paying attention we were reminded of just who this Robert Gates was.

If Gates can somehow turn things around in Iraq without the shady dirty business he is best known for (politicizing intelligence and Iran-Contra Affair) then he will be vindicated in my eyes, but until then I remain thoroughly skeptical of this harmless looking man.


After the reelection of Ronald Reagan during a time when relationships with the Soviet Union were aggressive, then CIA Deputy Director Robert Gates delivered a report to the White House which suggested that the Soviets had been involved in the plot to assassinate Pope John Paul the Second.

The only problem with the report? It was purely politicized elephant shit that was not backed by any facts whatsoever.

There was never any evidence to support his theory and his theory has been widely proven to be false, but none of that mattered, because Gates was able to "hand deliver" cherry picked intelligence directly to the White House.

Gates is well known and has in the past been fairly criticized, even by some Republicans for his habit of politicizing intelligence.

This can be extremely dangerous in a time when cherry picked-politicized intelligence is what ultimately led this country into a war with Iraq and what keeps us in a war in Iraq.

During the Iran-Iraq War Gates allegedly passed intelligence to Iraq. That war claimed one million lives and lasted eight years and altered the political landscape in the region.

In 1986 several members of the Reagan Administration sold weapons to Iran in order fund Contra militants in Nicaragua, the scandal became known as the Iran-Contra Affair.

Robert Gates had a close relationships with those involved in the Iran-Contra Affair and although there was not sufficient evidence to warrant charging Robert Gates with a crime for his role in the scandal, many did not believe his assertion that he simply did not remember key facts when Gates was known for having an extraordinary memory.

How can the television media ignore these facts and allegations? Will they ignore these allegations if Gates helps lead us into a regional war with Iraq on one side and Iran on the other?

The most disturbing revelation is that both Democrats and Republicans seem to be willing to dismiss Gates past.

All Gates had to do was go into that hearing and agree to the painful fact that we all know, which the United States is not necessarily winning the quagmire in Iraq (duh) and then Gates was golden as far as they were concerned, he was in.

This revelation too, is disturbing. It makes the process entirely to easy for Gates who is surely intelligent and possibly manipulative, otherwise he would not have made it to the position he is in today.

Gates knew, and Bush knew and Rumsfeld knew and the Republicans knew that Gates had to go into that hearing agreeing with American consensus which is "change in Iraq". That's all he had to agree with, and the media ate it up too.

Supporters of Gates have insisted that Gates has changed, that he has matured and that he has changed.

It looks like now is the time we are going to be forced to see if Robert Gates has indeed changed or if he is the same sock puppet-political windsock-stove piping politicized intelligence to the White House mini Rumsfeld that he has been known to be in the past.

I hope Gates is indeed the right man for the job and can change the outcome (for the better) in Iraq, but I am not holding my breath.

I hope for the best but I expect that somehow things are going to get a lot more complicated in the Middle East with Robert Gates at the helm of this runaway ship. I hope I am wrong.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Does US Need New Govt. Institution To Combat Terrorism?

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently wrote a memo to his comrades in arms in which he pondered the great questions of the War on Terror.

The memo was scattered with questions, but there was a recurring theme that seems to have escaped the media.

Rumsfeld refers to creating new government entities three times in the recently leaked memo, which can be read at USA TODAY.Com.

But in a country already tied down with bureaucracy and poor communication within existing government entities one has to ask if creating a new one is really the answer.

The memo reads as if it were hand crafted for public release, not a secret memo that got "leaked" to the public. Rumsfeld is posing mostly rhetorical questions, posed purposely with the intent of making a point, not asking a question.

So are new government institutions or entities really the answer to Rumsfeld's questions?

As I view it in this case the government is part of the problem. Maybe there are too many entities already operating within it, rather than not enough.

The focus should perhaps be focused on more efficient and intelligent agencies, rather than new agencies. Let these agencies be head by competent individuals, not those who have family or friends in high places.

But in a government already steeped in debt and war whose present government institutions are not entirely efficient it may not be a productive pursue the idea of creating a new government institution.
Leaked? Rumsfeld's War-On-Terror Memo

The text below is of a leaked memo written by Donald Rumsfeld regarding the GWOT and was copied by Dreams Of Liberty from USA TODAY, where the memo can also be read.

October 16, 2003

TO: Gen. Dick Myers
Paul Wolfowitz
Gen. Pete Pace
Doug Feith

FROM: Donald Rumsfeld

SUBJECT: Global War on Terrorism

The questions I posed to combatant commanders this week were: Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror? Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment? Can a big institution change fast enough? Is the USG changing fast enough?

DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere — one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.

With respect to global terrorism, the record since Septermber 11th seems to be:

We are having mixed results with Al Qaida, although we have put considerable pressure on them — nonetheless, a great many remain at large.

USG has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis.

USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban — Omar, Hekmatyar, etc.

With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started.

Have we fashioned the right mix of rewards, amnesty, protection and confidence in the US?

Does DoD need to think through new ways to organize, train, equip and focus to deal with the global war on terror?

Are the changes we have and are making too modest and incremental? My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?

Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?

Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions.

Do we need a new organization?

How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools?

Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"?

It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.

Does CIA need a new finding?

Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madradssas to a more moderate course?

What else should we be considering?

Please be prepared to discuss this at our meeting on Saturday or Monday.


Source : USA TODAY

*The author of Dreams of Liberty believes the memo was not leaked, but that the Rumsfeld memo was written with the intent of public release as part of the vindication of Rumsfeld following his coming resignation.