Saturday, November 03, 2007

JAG Officers Speak Out

Dear Chairman Leahy,

In the course of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of President Bush’s nominee for the post of Attorney General, there has been much discussion, but little clarity, about the legality of “waterboarding” under United States and international law. We write Because this issue above all demands clarity: Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture, and it is illegal.

In 2006 the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the authority to prosecute terrorists under the war crimes provisions of Title 18 of the U.S. Code. In connection with those hearings the sitting Judge Advocates General of the military services were asked to submit written responses to a series of questions regarding “the use of a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of drowning (i.e., waterboarding) . . .” Major General Scott Black, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General, Major General Jack Rives, U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General, Rear Admiral Bruce MacDonald, U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General, and Brigadier Gen. Kevin Sandkuhler, Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, unanimously and unambiguously agreed that such conduct is inhumane and illegal and would constitute a violation of international law, to include Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. We agree with our active duty colleagues. This is a critically important issue - but it is not, and never has been, a complex issue, and even to suggest otherwise does a terrible disservice to this nation. All U.S. Government agencies and personnel, and not just America’s military forces, must abide by both the spirit and letter of the controlling provisions of international law. Cruelty and torture - no less than wanton killing - is neither justified nor legal in any circumstance. It is essential to be clear, specific and unambiguous about this fact - as in fact we have been throughout America’s history, at least until the last few years. Abu Ghraib and other notorious examples of detainee abuse have been the product, at least in part, of a self-serving and destructive disregard for the well-established legal principles applicable to this issue. This must end.

The Rule of Law is fundamental to our existence as a civilized nation. The Rule of Law is not a goal which we merely aspire to achieve; it is the floor below which we must not sink. For the Rule of Law to function effectively, however, it must provide actual rules that can be followed. In this instance, the relevant rule - the law - as long been clear: Waterboarding detainees amounts to illegal torture in all circumstances. To suggest otherwise - or even to give credence to such a suggestion - represents both an affront to the law and to the core values of our nation.

We respectfully urge you to consider these principles in connection with the nomination of Judge Mukasey.


Rear Admiral Donald J. Guter, United States Navy (Ret.)
Judge Advocate General of the Navy, 2000-02

Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, United States Navy (Ret.)
Judge Advocate General of the Navy, 1997-2000

Major General John L. Fugh, United States Army (Ret.)
Judge Advocate General of the Army, 1991-93

Brigadier General David M. Brahms, United States Marine Corps (Ret.)
Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant, 1985-88

Sourced: pdf file

My comment:

Those damned hippy, pinko, wimp, fake soldiers are at it again. If a president / commander-in-chief orders it, how can it possibly be illegal. Let me wake up Richard Nixon and ask him if it's possible for a president to break the law.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Climate Change Roundup (Just Today's Headlines, by the way)

It's here ...

Some experts believe that the most severe drought on record is giving North Carolina a taste of things to come.

In two far Western North Carolina counties, about 60 springs and shallow wells have virtually dried up, forcing people to buy water or gather it from creeks and community springs. Customers relying on municipal water systems are faring better.

But, according to Gov. Mike Easley and other water officials, the drought may be a harbinger. We need look only to Atlanta, where there’s less than a 90-day supply in Lake Lanier, the city’s main source of water, and city and state officials are scrambling to find solutions. Their efforts portend the water wars that may come if unrestrained development continues without adequate planning.

It's there ...

LARGE swathes of southern and eastern Australia have been in the grip of drought for 11 years and recent rains have done nothing to alleviate the situation.

The Bureau of Meteorology yesterday also revealed the Murray-Darling Basin has just experienced its equal driest six-year period on record. It had an average of 389mm of rainfall a year, 20 per cent below the long-term average.

The head of climate analysis at the bureau's National Climate Centre, David Jones, said the low rainfall in the Murray-Darling Basin was equal to the period 1939-45, but this drought was hotter.

"With global warming, it is no surprise the Murray-Darling Basin is about a degree hotter, so perhaps the drought is worse than any previous drought," Dr Jones said.

Its everywhere ... except where there are disastrous floods.

Like Mexico and Central America:

Military trucks hauled bottled water, food and clothing to Mexico's flooded Gulf coast Friday as rescue workers in helicopters and boats worked furiously to retrieve thousands of victims stranded on rooftops.

With flooding across nearly all of the Gulf coast state of Tabasco and food and drinking water scarce, health officials warned against epidemics of cholera and other waterborne diseases.

An estimated 900,000 people had their homes flooded, damaged or cut off, and as of Thursday 300,000 still had not been rescued, Tabasco Gov. Andres Granier said. Police, soldiers and military workers were still trying to reach them.

and Great Britian:

The summer floods of 2007 were the worst natural disaster to strike Britain in a generation. Thousands were evacuated – and thousands saw their houses and possessions washed away. It's been four months since the waters receded. Are they home and dry?

Some people are trying to do something about it:

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 2 (Bernama) -- The number of flood relief centres in the country will be increased to 4,565 to be able to cater up to 1.2 million evacuees, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

However, he said this did not mean that major floods were about to happen.

"As of now, we do not want to make any predictions openly. It's just that in December and January, we expect generally, rainfall to be higher than normal but it does not necessarily mean there will be floods.

And then there are the climate change deniers.

Even those who admit that something might be going on refuse to accept that WE human beings might have something to do with it all. They look are the following statistics, shrug and say the statistics are irrelevant. You look at the statistics and tell me what you think:

Population Growth of the Planet (from before the Pyramids to Present)
Source: Wikipedia

"Americans represent 5 percent of the world's population but contribute 45 percent of the world's emission of carbon dioxide, the main pollutant that causes global warming, according to a report by the nonprofit group Environmental Defense.

Americans own 30 percent of the world's vehicles, drive farther each year than the international average and burn more fuel per mile, the report says. Additionally, the sport-utility boom of the past decade put vehicles on the road that could be spewing carbon dioxide for years to come." (Washington Post)

Maybe it IS our "freedoms" that generate all that heat of hate.

Terrorism is Useful


"I want justice," Bush said. "And there's an old poster out West… I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.'" (1)


"I truly am not that concerned about him."
"So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you." (2)


"Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. And the question is: Will we listen? America and our coalition partners are listening. We have made our choice. We take the words of the enemy seriously." (3)

My comment:

Which is it?

It would appear that Bush only takes bin Laden seriously when its convenient. Bin Laden has become a boogie man that gets dragged out of the closet and shown to the "children" in order to frighten them into behaving "properly".

One is left with the impression that, bottom line, the official policy with regard to bin Laden is to not capture him. He's more useful to the administration if he's at large than if he's captured and brought to justice. If he were being held, he couldn't be used so effectively to scare the "children".

For seven years the Democrats have caved into every demand made by the Bush administration. He's gotten everything he's wanted with the results being that bin Laden is free and we're caught up in the Tar Baby of Iraq.

Adding insult to injury, the Presidents recent speech blames his lack of success on Democratic opposition!

I wish I could find the link to Bush making a joke about not being able to find bin Laden ... looking under his desk and smirking, "Not here!"

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Power of the Words "We, the People"

a piece by Dave Johnson on Huffington Post

As an experiment, try substituting the words, "We, the People" every time you read or use the word "government." Or use the word "our" instead of "the" when you say "the government." Our government, us, we, the people. This really does change the way we understand the relationship between our government and ourselves, doesn't it?

The other day I brought up the example of Ronald Reagan's famous saying, "Government is the problem." When you look at that saying in this new way, he is saying "We, The People are the problem." Doesn't that sound like he is expressing a profoundly anti-democratic sentiment? Is that really what we want our leaders to be promoting?

How many other places do we discover similar anti-democratic sentiments? How about when we hear about "limited government?" Are conservatives saying that they want to limit the power of the people? What about when they talk about getting rid of government regulations? Do conservatives want to stop the people from regulating what corporations do? When you think about what their words really mean, it sure starts to sound that way.

Conservatives have worked hard to make "government" a bad word. They complain about "big government." They complain about "government schools." But what happens when we substitute a form of "We, the People" into their slogans? The whole meaning seems to change.

More following the click ...

Thought for the Day

"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers."

Richard Feynman

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Think you know a little about waterboarding?

If you think you know about waterboarding and if you're not sure if it's torture, this video might be helpful.

Click image for video.

Now, imagine going through that several times a day - not knowing when it would start or end - not knowing IF your tormentors would stop - not knowing any of the things that the subject in the video knew. Imagine it's your wife or husband or your kid. Now tell me it's not torture.

Is it as your golden boy, Giuliani, would have it - "It depends on who's doing it"?

It's not about who the terrorists are ... it's about who we've become.

A Note from a Republican


Long story short, I got up there to register as an independent, said “Fuck it,” and now I am a Democrat. I certainly don’t agree with all their positions, but they are not bat-shit crazy like the GOP. That has to count for something. Additionally, I no longer have to read posts by the 24% crowd calling me a “true conservative” with quotes o’sarcasm (you know who they are). Not any more, bitches. I repudiate you, your party, and whatever the fuck it is you are currently pretending is “conservatism.” It isn’t.


Read it all right here ...

My comment:

Until the 2000 election I thought of myself as an Independent. I found merit in some of the things Republicans said and I found merit in some of the things Democrats said. Then came the aftermath of 2000. But I figured, what can one man possibly do? Hell, at least he's picking up some old hands as advisers (Cheney and Rumsfeld to name a couple). They'll keep him on the straight and narrow. Besides, the steering the ship of state is like trying to maneuver an aircraft carrier. It takes a lot of effort to make a small change in course, right? And when you come right down to it, both parties look a lot alike most of the time, right?

How wrong I was.

By the time 2004 arrived, I was pretty radicalized. (Thank you, GW, for getting me involved!)

Oh ... and Republicans ... where I once gave you credibility on issues of personal responsibility, fiscal responsibility and all around level headedness in the face of Democratic idealism ... forget it. I would rather work with Democrats and Liberals, trying to curb their enthusiasm than to try to cure the rampant insanity on the Right. You've wasted all of your credibility, your political capital, and your honor. Those are things which, once lost, are almost impossible to regain.

You've taken the first steps to balancing the budget and turned them into the largest indebtedness in history. You defend torture and support a war on a country that didn't attack us. You support the idea of starting yet another war against yet another geopolitical dwarf. You've mischaracterized those who don't see things your way - accusing them of treason, of supporting an enemy, of being disloyal - when, in fact, they are exercising their rights as citizens - the right of descent and of having an opinion different than yours. And then you favor the destruction of the very thing that distinguishes this great country from all the others - the one thing that makes this nation great - The Constitution - that systems of rules and checks and balances that has kept us on an even keel for more than 200 years! You want to give that up for an all powerful President - who looks and smells and walks and talks like every petty dictator that ever ruled a Banana Republic.

The sin of the American Left is to offer hope in a troubled world. They offer to work at fixing a broken government (one that you seem to have broken). All you seem to offer is fear and debt and war and death to a time and place well beyond the foreseeable future.

Yes. Everything changed after 9/11 - at least for you everything changed. You went insane with fear - and became the thing you feared the most.

You feared the repression of Communism - and you became repressive.

You were angered by the dishonesty of Communism - and you became dishonest.

You braced at the idea of the police state of Communism - now you want a police state.

You mocked the Commies for their "show trials" - now you hold show trials.

You condemned Communism for prison gulags and torture - now you have them and you support it.

You were appalled when the USSR's KGB spied on their citizens - and now you want to spy on ours - using the same second rate lie they used: "If you're innocent, you have nothing to fear."

You decried their violent interventions in other countries; Afghanistan, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany - and now you can't move an army into another country fast enough!

Communism didn't work. Shame on Communism. But worse, you have learned nothing from their mistakes and nothing from your own. Shame on you!

You have become your own worst nightmare and the mirror of history will convict you of all the crimes you were so attentive to in others. You call yourselves Americans? What makes you different from them?

2007 Spying Said to Cost $50 Billion

Some Formerly Classified Figures Are to Be Disclosed Today

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer

The director of national intelligence will disclose today that national intelligence activities amounting to roughly 80 percent of all U.S. intelligence spending for the year cost more than $40 billion, according to sources on Capitol Hill and inside the administration.

The disclosure means that when military spending is added, aggregate U.S. intelligence spending for fiscal 2007 exceeded $50 billion, according to these sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the total remains classified.

The rest following the click ...

The Newshoggers provide a little perspective:

"'s more than every other nation except three (China, Russia and the UK) spend on their entire defense budgets. It's ten times Iran's entire defense budget. It's as much as the US government spent on all its science, energy and environmental programs in 2006.

But the vast US intel apparatus, satellites and all, apparently cannot tell us exactly what Israel bombed in Syria; cannot find Osama bin Laden even though UK intelligence has provided his phone number in Quetta, Pakistan; cannot produce a single piece of hard evidence for Iran having a nuclear weapon's program.

But apparently it's great for ensuring that cabinet ministers of an allied government are hassled for the crime of "travelling while Muslim"; for spying on citizens without warrants but with telecom company complicity; for classifying everything down to and including Bush's presidential archives and Cheney's hair dye brand."

Sourced here.

And just as she was making such good progress, too ...


Long-time Bush adviser Karen Hughes will leave her post as undersecretary of state at the State Department in mid-December, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Wednesday.

Hughes served as undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs since her appointment to the post in March 2005, and was charged with running the State Department's campaign to "win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world."


Bush and Diplomatic Success

... or get the video here.

Reconstruction efforts in Iraq proceed apace

The largest dam in Iraq is in serious danger of an imminent collapse that could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water, possibly killing thousands of people and flooding two of the largest cities in the country, according to new assessments by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other U.S. officials.

Even in a country gripped by daily bloodshed, the possibility of a catastrophic failure of the Mosul Dam has alarmed American officials, who have concluded that it could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feet, said Abdulkhalik Thanoon Ayoub, the dam manager. "The Mosul dam is judged to have an unacceptable annual failure probability," in the dry wording of an Army Corps of Engineers draft report.

At the same time, a U.S. reconstruction project to help shore up the dam in northern Iraq has been marred by incompetence and mismanagement, according to Iraqi officials and a report by a U.S. oversight agency to be released Tuesday. The reconstruction project, worth at least $27 million, was not intended to be a permanent solution to the dam's deficiencies.

The rest following the click ...

My comment:

Potentially 500,000 civilian deaths? Added to the 650,000 already in the ground? And you think they hate us for our freedoms?

US - 301,139,947 (July 2007 Estimate)
Iraq - 27,499,638 (2007 Estimate)

Assuming there's any reality to the 650,000 reported above and another 500,000 potential deaths as a result of this huge infrastructure collapse; that's 1,150,000 deaths or 4% of the total population of the country.

For there to be an equivalent disaster here in the US, we'd be looking at over 12,000,000 people dead. I wonder how we'd feel if someone came to this country, stayed for 4+ years and left 12 Million bodies in their wake?

It's the dictionary definition of a total "clusterfuck"!


Military term for an operation in which multiple things have gone wrong. Related to "SNAFU" (Situation Normal, All Fucked Up") and "FUBAR" (Fucked Up Beyond All Repair -or- Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition).

In radio communication or polite conversation (i.e. with a very senior officer with whom you have no prior experience) the term "clusterfuck" will often be replaced by the NATO phonetic acronym "Charlie Foxtrot."

As in: "By the time the artillery came in the enemy was already on top of us. It was a total clusterfuck."

So, how do you say "Katrina" in Arabic?

Dennis Kucinich misses the mark

"More people in this country have seen UFOs than I think approve of George Bush's presidency."

Dennis Kucinich on Tuesday, October 30th, 2007 in a Democratic debate in Philadelphia, Pa.

According to an Associated Press/Ipsos poll done for Halloween, which asked people about their belief in and experiences of the paranormal. The poll found 14 percent said they had seen a UFO themselves, and 34 percent said they believed in UFOs.

We'll take the 14 percent of the people at their word that they did indeed see strange flying objects with no everyday explanation. But that's still a good 16 to 21 points below George Bush's approval ratings, which have hovered in the 30 to 35 percent range this year.

Follow the click...

My thought:

I think Dennis meant to say there were more people who have faith in the existence UFOs than in the current occupant. If he'd said that, he'd have been dead on.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ya wanna WAR? Think it through ...

Thinking it through is not one of the strong suits on the Right. As evidence let me offer:

"... welcomed as liberators."
"... walk in the park."
and a myriad of other examples of getting it totally wrong.

Fortunately, there are people who do try to think these things through ... cooly, without political spin. the folks at StratFor (Strategic Forecasting) are among those. Here's their assessment of the situation with regard to a war with Iran ... the next adventure on the drawing boards of saber rattling, myopic, short sighted chicken hawks:


War Plans: United States and Iran

By George Friedman

A possible U.S. attack against Iran has been a hot topic in the news for many months now. In some quarters it has become an article of faith that the Bush administration intends to order such an attack before it leaves office. It remains a mystery whether the administration plans an actual attack or whether it is using the threat of attack to try to intimidate Iran -- and thus shape its behavior in Iraq and elsewhere.

Unraveling the mystery lies, at least in part, in examining what a U.S. attack would look like, given U.S. goals and resources, as well as in considering the potential Iranian response. Before turning to intentions, it is important to discuss the desired outcomes and capabilities. Unfortunately, those discussions have taken a backseat to speculations about the sheer probability of war.

Let's begin with goals. What would the United States hope to achieve by attacking Iran? On the broadest strategic level, the answer is actually quite simple. After 9/11, the United States launched counterstrikes in the Islamic world. The goal was to disrupt the al Qaeda core in order to prevent further attacks against the United States. The counterstrikes also were aimed at preventing the emergence of a follow-on threat from the Islamic world that would replace the threat that had been posed by al Qaeda. The disruption of all Islamic centers of power that have the ability and intent to launch terrorist attacks against the United States is a general goal of U.S. strategy. With the decline of Sunni radicalism, Iran has emerged as an alternative Shiite threat. Hence, under this logic, Iran must be dealt with.

Obviously, the greater the disruption of radically anti-American elements in the Islamic world, the better it is for the United States. But there are three problems here. First, the United States has a far more complex relationship with Iran than it does with al Qaeda. Iran supported the U.S. attack against the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- for its own reasons, of course. Second, the grand strategy of the United States might include annihilating Islamic radicalism, but at the end of the day, maintaining the balance of power between Sunnis and Shia and between Arab and non-Arab Muslims is a far more practical approach. Finally, the question of what to do about Iran depends on the military capabilities of the United States in the immediate future. The intentions are shaped by the capabilities.

What, therefore, would the U.S. goals be in an attack against Iran? They divide into three (not mutually exclusive) strategies:

1. Eliminating Iran's nuclear program.
2. Crippling Iran by hitting its internal infrastructure -- political, industrial and military -- ideally forcing regime change that would favor U.S. interests.
3. Using an attack -- or threatening an attack -- to change Iranian behavior in Iraq, Lebanon or other areas of the world.

It is important to note the option that is not on the table: invasion by U.S. ground forces, beyond the possible use of small numbers of Special Operations forces. Regardless of the state of Iranian conventional forces after a sustained air attack, the United States simply does not have the numbers of ground troops needed to invade and occupy Iran – particularly given the geography and topography of the country. Therefore, any U.S. attack would rely on the forces available, namely air and naval forces.

The destruction of Iran's nuclear capabilities would be the easiest to achieve, assuming that U.S. intelligence has a clear picture of the infrastructure of that program and that the infrastructure has not been hardened to the point of being invulnerable to conventional attack. Iran, however, learned a great deal from Iraq's Osirak experience and has spread out and hardened its nuclear facilities. Also, given Iran's location and the proximity of U.S. forces and allies, we can assume the United States would not be interested in a massive nuclear attack with the resulting fallout. Moreover, we would argue that, in a world of proliferation, it would not be in the interest of the United States to set a precedent by being the first use to use nuclear weapons since World War II.

Therefore, the U.S. option is to carry out precision strikes against Iran's nuclear program using air- and sea-launched munitions. As a threat, this is in an interesting option. As an actual operation, it is less interesting.

First, the available evidence is that Iran is years away from achieving a deliverable nuclear weapon. Second, Iran might be more interested in trading its nuclear program for other political benefits -- specifically in Iraq. An attack against the country's nuclear facilities would make Tehran less motivated than before to change its behavior. Furthermore, even if its facilities were destroyed, Iran would retain its capabilities in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere in the world. Therefore, unless the United States believed there was an imminent threat of the creation of a deliverable nuclear system, the destruction of a long-term program would eliminate the long-term threat, but leave Iran's short-term capabilities intact. Barring imminent deployment, a stand-alone attack against Iran's nuclear capabilities makes little sense.

That leaves the second option -- a much broader air and sea campaign against Iran. This would have four potential components:

1. Attacks against its economic infrastructure, particularly its refineries.
2. Attacks against its military infrastructure.
3. Attacks against its political infrastructure, particularly its leadership.
4. A blockade and sanctions.

Let's begin in reverse order. The United States has the ability to blockade Iran's ports, limiting the importation of oil and refined products, as well as food. It does not have the ability to impose a general land blockade against Iran, which has long land borders, including with Iraq. Because the United States lacks the military capability to seal those borders, goods from around Iran's periphery would continue to flow, including, we emphasize, from Iraq, where U.S. control of transportation systems, particularly in the Shiite south, is limited. In addition, it is unclear whether the United States would be willing to intercept, board and seize ships from third-party countries (Russia, China and a large number of small countries) that are not prepared to participate in sanctions or might not choose to respect an embargo. The United States is stretched thin, and everyone knows it. A blockade could invite deliberate challenges, while enforcement would justify other actions against U.S. interests elsewhere. Any blockade strategy assumes that Iran is internationally isolated, which it is not, that the United States can impose a military blockade on land, which it cannot, and that it can withstand the consequences elsewhere should a third party use U.S. actions to justify counteraction, which is questionable. A blockade could hurt Iran's energy economy, but Iran has been preparing for this for years and can mitigate the effect by extensive smuggling operations. Ultimately, Iran is not likely to crumble unless the United States can maintain and strengthen the blockade process over a matter of many months at the very least.

Another option is a decapitation strike against Iran's leadership – though it is important to recall how this strategy failed in Iraq at the beginning of the 2003 invasion. Decapitation assumes superb intelligence on the location of the leadership at a given time -- and that level of intelligence is hard to come by. Iraq had a much smaller political elite than Iran has, and the United States couldn't nail down its whereabouts. It also is important to remember that Iran has a much deeper and more diverse leadership structure than Iraq had. Iraq's highly centralized system included few significant leaders. Iran is more decentralized and thus has a much larger and deeper leadership cadre. We doubt the United States has the real-time intelligence capability to carry out such a broad decapitation strike.

The second option is an assault against the Iranian military. Obviously, the United States has the ability to carry out a very effective assault against the military's technical infrastructure -- air defense, command and control, aircraft, armor and so on. But the Iranian military is primarily an infantry force, designed for internal control and operations in mountainous terrain -- the bulk of Iran's borders. Once combat operations began, the force would disperse and tend to become indistinguishable from the general population. A counterpersonnel operation would rapidly become a counterpopulation operation. Under any circumstances, an attack against a dispersed personnel pool numbering in the high hundreds of thousands would be sortie intensive, to say the least. An air campaign designed to impose high attrition on an infantry force, leaving aside civilian casualties, would require an extremely large number of sorties, in which the use of precision-guided munitions would be of minimal value and the use of area weapons would be at a premium. Given the fog of war and intelligence issues, the ability to evaluate the status of this campaign would be questionable.

In our view, the Iranians are prepared to lose their technical infrastructure and devolve command and control to regional and local levels. The collapse of the armed forces -- most of whose senior officers and noncoms fought in the Iran-Iraq war with very flexible command and control -- is unlikely. The force would continue to be able to control the frontiers as well as maintain internal security functions. The United States would rapidly establish command of the air, and destroy noninfantry forces. But even here there is a cautionary note. In Yugoslavia, the United States learned that relatively simple camouflage and deception techniques were quite effective in protecting tactical assets. The Iranians have studied both the Kosovo war and U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have extensive tactical combat experience themselves. A forced collapse from the air of the Iranian infantry capability -- the backbone of Iran's military -- is unlikely.

This leaves a direct assault against the Iranian economic infrastructure. Although this is the most promising path, it must be remembered that counterinfrastructure and counterpopulation strategic air operations have been tried extensively. The assumption has been that the economic cost of resistance would drive a wedge between the population and the regime, but there is no precedent in the history of air campaigns for this assumption. Such operations have succeeded in only two instances: Japan and Kosovo. In Japan, counterpopulation operations of massive proportions involving conventional weapons were followed by two atomic strikes. Even in that case, there was no split between regime and population, but a decision by the regime to capitulate. The occupation in Kosovo was not so much because of military success as diplomatic isolation. That isolation is not likely to happen in Iran.

In all other cases -- Britain, Germany, Vietnam, Iraq -- air campaigns by themselves did not split the population from the regime or force the regime to change course. In Britain and Vietnam, the campaigns failed completely. In Germany and Iraq (and Kuwait), they succeeded because of follow-on attacks by overwhelming ground forces.

The United States could indeed inflict heavy economic hardship, but history suggests that this is more likely to tighten the people's identification with the government -- not the other way around. In most circumstances, air campaigns have solidified the regime's control over the population, allowing it to justify extreme security measures and generating a condition of intense psychological resistance. In no case has a campaign led to an uprising against the regime. Moreover, a meaningful campaign against economic infrastructure would take some 4 million barrels per day off of the global oil market at a time when oil prices already are closing in on $100 a barrel. Such a campaign is more likely to drive a wedge between the
American people and the American government than between the Iranians and their government.

For an air campaign to work, the attacking power must be prepared to bring in an army on the ground to defeat the army that has been weakened by the air campaign -- a tactic Israel failed to apply last summer in Lebanon. Combined arms operations do work, repeatedly. But the condition of the U.S. Army and Marines does not permit the opening of a new theater of operations in Iran. Most important, even if conditions did permit the use of U.S. ground forces to engage and defeat the Iranian army -- a massive operation simply by the size of the country -- the United States does not have the ability to occupy Iran against a hostile population. The Japanese and German nations were crushed completely over many years before an
overwhelming force occupied them. What was present there, but not in Iraq, was overwhelming force. That is not an option for Iran.

Finally, consider the Iranian response. Iran does not expect to defeat the U.S. Air Force or Navy, although the use of mine warfare and anti-ship cruise missiles against tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz should not be dismissed. The Iranian solution would be classically asymmetrical. First, they would respond in Iraq, using their assets in the country to further complicate the occupation, as well as to impose as many casualties as possible on the United States. And they would use their forces to increase the difficulty of moving supplies from Kuwait to U.S. forces in central Iraq. They also would try to respond globally using their own forces (the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), as well as Hezbollah and other trained Shiite militant assets, to carry out counterpopulation attacks against U.S. assets around the world, including in the United States.

If the goal is to eliminate Iran's nuclear program, we expect the United States would be able to carry out the mission. If, however, the goal is to compel a change in the Iranian regime or Iranian policy, we do not think the United States can succeed with air forces alone. It would need to be prepared for a follow-on invasion by U.S. forces, coming out of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Those forces are not available at this point and would require several years to develop. That the United States could defeat and occupy Iran is certain. Whether the United States has a national interest in devoting the time and the resources to Iran's occupation is unclear.

The United States could have defeated North Vietnam with a greater mobilization of forces. However, Washington determined that the defeat of North Vietnam and the defense of Indochina were not worth the level of effort required. Instead, it tried to achieve its ends with the resources it was prepared to devote to the mission. As a result, resources were squandered and the North Vietnamese flag flies over what was Saigon.

The danger of war is that politicians and generals, desiring a particular end, fantasize that they can achieve that end with insufficient resources. This lesson is applicable to Iran.

My thoughts:

Dead, suffered a terminal case of war.

One scenario that is conspicuous by its absence from the above analysis (and a surprise to me) is the use of mercenaries contractors to conduct the war. They currently make up close to 50% of the US personnel on the ground in Iraq and the corporations such as Blackwater are looking for opportunities to increase their "market".

"... in 2003 the government handed out 3,512 contracts to companies to perform security functions; in the twenty-two-month period ending in August 2006, the Department of Homeland Security had issued more than 115,000 such contracts. The Global Homeland Security 'industry' - economically insignificant before 2001 - is now a $200 Billion sector."*

There are no precedents for a war being waged and won solely with "contractors". However, there are several cases where the outcomes were negative (for example, the Hessians didn't do very well against citizen soldiers during the American Revolution). But, I would guess if government "merged" with corporations, and they effectively became the same thing (as they seem to be doing) the total privatization of war would be a logical following.

The current administration appears to have the goal of privatizing everything. They are students of Milton Freedman and this is THE opportunity. Unfortunately, one of the "unforeseen" consequences of turning war into a profitable business is that suddenly, war becomes something we look for ... each war we become involved in becomes a market and a means for making profit. Suddenly, we cease to have a need for diplomacy. As a matter of fact, diplomacy becomes the last thing we want. War, which was once the least desirable consequence of a given set of circumstances, becomes the most desirable set of consequences. If war becomes desirable because its profitable, expect a future filled with "shoot first, ask questions later" or, as it has been suggested about Blackwater, our foreign policy becomes "spray and pray". Keeping us out of a war becomes keeping us from making a profit. So, put on your seat belts, kids. It's going to be a very long and dangerous ride. And don't forget to thank Uncle Milty for all the excitement.

If you look at it from that point of view, its no wonder we don't talk to our enemies.

* Constable and Valenzuela, A Nation of Enemies, 172-73.

On Physician Assisted Torture

Too few American medical students receive adequate instruction about military medical ethics and a physician's ethical duties under the Geneva Conventions, say Harvard Medical School researchers.

They surveyed students at eight medical schools across the United States and found that 94 percent had received less than one hour of instruction about military medical ethics.

Among their other findings:

Only 37% of medical students could correctly identify that the Geneva Conventions apply irrespective of whether war had formally been declared.

33.8% didn't know that the Geneva Conventions state that physicians should "treat the sickest first, regardless of nationality."

37% didn't know that the Geneva Conventions prohibit ever threatening or demeaning prisoners, or depriving them of food or water for any length of time.

33.9% couldn't state when they would be required to disobey an unethical order from a superior.

More after the click ...

From George Orwell's "1984"

"A Party member… is supposed to live in a continuous frenzy of hatred of foreign enemies and internal traitors, triumph over victories, and self-abasement before the power and wisdom of the Party. The discontents produced by his bare, unsatisfying life are deliberately turned outwards and dissipated by such devices as the Two Minutes Hate, and the speculations which might possibly induce a skeptical or rebellious attitude are killed in advance by his early acquired inner discipline…called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity."

[emphasis added]

My thought: It reminds me of a whole host of people:

Rush Limbaugh
Ann Coulter
Bill O'Reilly
Shawn Hannity
and a whole host of Evangelical Christians, Right Wing pundits and Neoconservatives
to name just a few.

Not to mention all the "Good Germans" who looked the other way as tyranny came to power.

George Bush is Stripping Our Military of Honor

by Frank Schaffer | Bio |

To paper over the fact that he is destroying our military by overextending it, President Bush has hired professional mercenaries by the thousands. I have a stake in this decision: it dishonors my son's choice to volunteer to serve as a Marine.

After 9/11 my Marine son served two combat tours in Afghanistan, one shorter mission to Iraq and participated in several missions to other hot spots in the Global War on Terror. He had volunteered in 1999. It is the spirit of selflessness that my son and thousands of other men and women embraced by volunteering that the president is squandering.

Today our war machine includes "contractors" who are not fighting for love of country but for love of money. They are from all over the world and literally no more than hired guns. The fact that some of them are former U.S. military personnel changes nothing. It just shows that the line between a patriotic all-volunteer force and a mercenary force is blurring. It also shows that some men and women in the U.S. military have figured out that there is a chance to make a buck out of a decadent county that asked them to be willing to sacrifice everything while most Americans act like there is no war.

More after the click ...

Thought for the Day

Samuel Johnson, asked to critique a young, aspiring writer, offered the following:

"Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quick Question

Let me ask you a question: if George W. were President during the Cuban Missile Crisis (instead of JFK), well, would you be here today? Or would you be reading this blog from the afterlife?

The War Party

by Matt Taibbi in The Rolling Stone

Unrepentant over the GOP's disastrous invasion of Iraq, Republican candidates are determined to stay the course - and change the subject

Quietly and miserably, like an anxious mother tiptoeing away from an autistic child who has fallen asleep with his helmet on, the Republican Party continues its hopeless search for a viable nominee while backpedaling from its own disaster in Iraq. The candidates, all of them -- I exclude here Congressman Ron Paul, who is an uninvited guest to this ball -- are fourth-rate buffoons, not one of them qualified to hold down the last ten minutes of a weekday open-mike night in a Skokie comedy club. They are divided into two categories: those who try to avoid talking about Iraq by saying nothing at all, and those who try to avoid talking about Iraq by talking loudly about something else.

The rest after the click ...

Things done in the name of my security, my country and me (you, too)

The fog of work: What happened to Fremont mechanic Hamid Sayadi after 9/11?

In the beginning, 9/11 was a local story — it was the intimate grief and shock and incomprehension that so profoundly shook us those first days and weeks. Over time it morphed into something political, and we came to see the tragedy through the wide-angle lenses of foreign policy and law and the other spasms of governance it inspired.

But even as the specific event blurred into unspecific politics and symbolism over the years, it continued to affect individuals in concrete ways — ways that Fremont resident Hamid Sayadi claims he paid a price for.

His story is one of the many that have both nothing and everything to do with 9/11. A witty and eloquent Kurdish-American in his 50s, Sayadi waved the flag of his adopted country and cheered its military for three decades — all to end up stripped to his underwear one day, in the boiler room of his workplace, he says, a ragged and sobbing husk of his former self.

The full story after the click ...

My thought:
So, who are the terrorists?

Spin Alert

by Sam Sedaei on Huffington Post| BIO |

As the Bush Administration beats the drums for another war of choice with another country that had nothing to do with 9/11, they are using another series of fabricated facts to indoctrinate the American people into thinking that Iran poses a serious threat to our security. At the core of these fabrications is the claim that on October 25, 2005, during a speech at the Ministry of Interior conference hall, the then newly-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remarked that "Israel must be wiped off the map." As someone who was born in Tehran, lived there for seventeen years and is a native Farsi speaker, I have read the original transcripts of the speech in Farsi and want to inform you that Ahmadinejad never said "Israel must be wiped off the map," but rather, his statement was grossly mistranslated and taken out of context, perhaps to help make a case for military action against Iran.

Let's analyze what Ahmadinejad said. His exact words in Farsi were as follows: "Emam goft een rezhim-e eshghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzegar mahv shavad."

All of it following the click ...

My comment: Often things are lost in translation. Translations are, in the final analysis, interpretations. I think you have to be very careful when listening to an "interpreter" when the "interpreter" has an agenda. When you consider a translation from one language to another, it's probably a good idea to think about who stands to gain the most from the words that are used.

Fearing Fear

Paul Krugman / New York Times


For one thing, there isn’t actually any such thing as Islamofascism — it’s not an ideology; it’s a figment of the neocon imagination. The term came into vogue only because it was a way for Iraq hawks to gloss over the awkward transition from pursuing Osama bin Laden, who attacked America, to Saddam Hussein, who didn’t. And Iran had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 — in fact, the Iranian regime was quite helpful to the United States when it went after Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

Beyond that, the claim that Iran is on the path to global domination is beyond ludicrous. Yes, the Iranian regime is a nasty piece of work in many ways, and it would be a bad thing if that regime acquired nuclear weapons. But let’s have some perspective, please: we’re talking about a country with roughly the G.D.P. of Connecticut, and a government whose military budget is roughly the same as Sweden’s.

Meanwhile, the idea that bombing will bring the Iranian regime to its knees — and bombing is the only option, since we’ve run out of troops — is pure wishful thinking. Last year Israel tried to cripple Hezbollah with an air campaign, and ended up strengthening it instead. There’s every reason to believe that an attack on Iran would produce the same result, with the added effects of endangering U.S. forces in Iraq and driving oil prices well into triple digits.


And Mike Huckabee, whom reporters like to portray as a nice, reasonable guy, says that if Hillary Clinton is elected, “I’m not sure we’ll have the courage and the will and the resolve to fight the greatest threat this country’s ever faced in Islamofascism.” Yep, a bunch of lightly armed terrorists and a fourth-rate military power — which aren’t even allies — pose a greater danger than Hitler’s panzers or the Soviet nuclear arsenal ever did.

All of this would be funny if it weren’t so serious.


Just to be clear, Al Qaeda is a real threat, and so is the Iranian nuclear program. But neither of these threats frightens me as much as fear itself — the unreasoning fear that has taken over one of America’s two great political parties.

Read it all after the click ...

My thought:

  • Global Military spending in 2005 = $1,001 Billion

  • US Military spending in 2005 = $420.7 Billion

    (or roughly 42% of the total military spending for the ENTIRE PLANET ... it has not changed significantly in the two intervening years between 2005 and the present ... and this number does not include the supplementary spending bills passed by Congress specifically to fund actions in Afghanistan and Iraq ... this is just the normal, non-war, operating budget. When taken in total, the budget plus the supplementary spending provisions, the US spends MORE than 50% of the total Global Military budget )

  • Iran Military spending 2005 = $4.9 Billion

    (less than 1/2 of 1% of the total military spending for the entire planet; or roughly 1% of the military budget for the United States)

  • Who has nuclear weapons and how many do they have?

    (Note that Iran is NOT on the list of nations that have nuclear weapons. Also note that Pakistan, the place where Ossama bed Linen is hiding out and where al Qaeda has a "don't ask, don't tell" agreement with the ruling, right-wing, military dictatorship government friendly to the US and which is a huge help in the war on terror -- DOES have nuclear weapons.)

    (Keep in mind that Pakistan's chief nuclear scientist, A.Q. Khan, was caught red handed selling nuclear secrets to the highest bidder not too long ago. The consequences? He got a little slap on the wrist only because our government demanded something be done about it.)

If that doesn't give you a little perspective about the size of the latest boogieman that has all those Curly, Larry and Mo sounds coming out of the Right, nothing will and you're beyond hope.

Wo, wo, wo, wo, wo, wo, wo!