There He Goes Again

May 5, 2008 at 3:22 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Iran, Iraq, Michael Gordon, Military, War | Leave a comment

Michael Gordon carries the water for the Bush administration yet again, unquestioningly passing along any information “American officials” wish to pass along to their best enabler, Mr. Gordon. This time is it the salacious news that Hezbollah (our mortal enemy) has been training Iraqis in Iran (duh duh duh!)!

There has been debate among experts about the extent to which Iran is responsible for instability in Iraq. But President Bush and other American officials, in public castigations of Iran, have said that Iran has been consistently meddlesome in Iraq and that the Iranians have long sought to arm and train Iraqi militias, which the American military has called “special groups.”

In a possible effort to be less obtrusive, it appears that Iran is now bringing small groups of Iraqi Shiite militants to camps in Iran, where they are taught how to do their own training, American officials say.

Because of course, “American officials” are, er…uh, never wrong. But just read those two paragraphs closely. Iran, responsible for instability in Iraq? Who is the biggest provider of weapons and training in Iraq of various militias and non-state actors? Why it is the United States! In a competition between the United States and Iran, which of the two nations has directly killed more civilians than the other? Uh, this should be a no brainer, but for those kool-aid drinking war supporters, the answer is the United States. It is the United States that is sowing instability in Iraq at a far greater rate than Iran could ever do.

Those dratted meddlesome Iranians. If it weren’t for those blasted kids and their dog!

The Incident in the Strait of Hormuz – A Planted Story

January 17, 2008 at 10:19 am | Posted in Iran, Military | Leave a comment

Is anyone really suprised?

Michael Gordon Toes the Military Line Again

November 23, 2007 at 7:43 am | Posted in Iraq, Michael Gordon, Military | Leave a comment

He’s back at the New York Times, toeing the line of the military, ensuring the propaganda continues, raising those fears once again. Do it this way, or the whole thing falls to pieces, the military says. Michael Gordon, uncritically passes it along to Americans for consumption. There is no critical analysis from Mr. Gordon, because he is sold on the propaganda. Could it be even possible in his eyes that the military might not know what the hell they are doing? After all, MOST of the problems we are facing are directly attributable to MILITARY DECISIONS! How does Mr. Gordon know that they are suddenly telling the truth, or even that they know what they are talking about? What possibly changed? Mr. Gordon will never tell you because he’s drunk his kool-aid and wishes you to drink also.

With violence in Iraq on the decline and a quarter of American combat brigades scheduled to leave by July, commanders plan to give the remaining brigades an expanded role in training and supporting Iraqi forces, according to officials involved in a confidential military review of the next phase of the American troop deployment.

The plan, not yet in final form, is intended to transfer more of the security burden in Iraq to the Iraqis without giving up the gains that the Americans have made in recent months in pacifying the most violent areas and weakening the Sunni insurgency.

The approach is strikingly different from the plans advocated by many United States politicians, including some Democratic presidential contenders, who have called for a rapid withdrawal of American combat brigades from Iraq — the very units that American commanders see as playing a central role in the transition toward Iraqi control.

Note there the insidious nature of Mr. Gordon’s writing, and the thinking of the military. Their aim is to directly undercut whatever a Democrat has as his or her plan when winning the White House next fall. The VERY UNITS that the military wishes to use to transition control to Iraqis will be the ones that Democrats wish to bring home next summer. Very insidious. Does Mr. Gordon ask the military commanders why they chose those particular units to carry the biggest load? Of course not. Because Mr. Gordon is playing a political game here, and he is not letting you know he is playing a political game. He’s pretending to be a non-player, when in fact, he is playing one of the most important parts. He is the Messenger. He ensures you only get the message the military wants you to hear. No criticism. The military couldn’t possibly be wrong. We can’t have the people at home hold the feet of military leaders to the fire to ensure only the most correct decisions are made, because, well, in the eyes of the military, they don’t make mistakes, so they can somehow be trusted to tell the truth.

This approach differs from proposals by some counterinsurgency experts, like Lt. Col. John Nagl, that the Army establish a permanent corps of highly trained advisers and use it as the principal means to train Iraqi and foreign forces elsewhere.

It is also radically different from that advocated by some foreign policy specialists, who have urged the United States to quickly withdraw combat brigades while leaving behind a limited number of trainers. Such a strategy was outlined by the Iraq Study Group, a panel led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Representative Lee H. Hamilton, and a variant of this approach has been embraced by Senator Barack Obama in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The military really did not like the Iraq Study Group plan, and will do all it can to undermine it and destroy it. They seem to not like Senator Obama either. We can expect more attacks against him from Mr. Gordon.

Even More Evidence the Surge is a Grand Failure

November 15, 2007 at 1:00 pm | Posted in Iraq, Military | Leave a comment

Absolutely nothing on the political front. And to remind everybody, Bush himself said:

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq’s provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country’s economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq’s constitution.

He said that in January when selling the Glorious Surge. Yet there is absolutely nothing on the political front, and, as the article I linked to at the top shows, the American military is getting frustrated. Frankly, they should have known from the start that it wouldn’t work. But they are too caught up in “patriotism” and the worship of Petraeus and Bush to think rationally before venturing on a bad move.

On the Surge, Airstrikes, Fewer American Deaths, but More Innocent Iraqis Killed

October 26, 2007 at 10:21 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, General Petraeus, Iraq, Military | 3 Comments

So the Glorious Surge is supposed to REDUCE violence and death. It has succeeded in reducing Americans killed, but not for the reasons one would think. It’s not as if our enemies have stopped fighting us. It’s actually because our military has gone against their own counterinsurgency principles and are using airstrikes to kill “bad guys” which inevitably also kill numerous civilians. But using those airstrikes ensures fewer Americans killed.

Continue Reading On the Surge, Airstrikes, Fewer American Deaths, but More Innocent Iraqis Killed…

Clueless, Dangerous Mitt Romney

October 26, 2007 at 9:20 am | Posted in conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Iran, Military, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, secret combinations, War | 10 Comments

What does it take to raise the level of discourse of these Republican candidates for president? Here we have Mitt Romney responding on the new sanctions placed on Iran that he is in favor of “a military blockade or “bombardment of some kind” to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.”

A bombardment of some kind? A military blockade? Just what in the hell will those do? Are Republicans really this far unhinged? This shows a real poor understanding of foreign policy on Mitt Romney. It shows that he would rather pander to an out of touch political Right than state things as they are. Com’on Mr. Romney, you were a stake president for Pete’s sake!

More Phony Soldiers

October 16, 2007 at 4:54 am | Posted in Iraq, Military | 1 Comment

Sheesh, haven’t they learned that they must keep quiet and support the war?

Some More Thoughts on Al Gore Winning the Nobel Peace Prize

October 13, 2007 at 9:01 am | Posted in Al Gore, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Military, Nobel Prize, NSA Warrantless Tapping, Peace, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror, warrantless wiretapping, wmd, World Events | Leave a comment

I was one of those who was highly disappointed with the 2000 election. There were so many factors that took away the presidency from the rightful person and put it in the hands of a childish, boy emperor, a petulant, self-serving, babbling idiot, who has left the blackest mark on our country…since, well, I can’t honestly think of a worst president.

I can’t say how angry I have been these past seven years at Ralph Nader, siphoning votes away from Al Gore (Ralph Nader got like 70,000 votes in Florida in 2000, plenty to defeat Bush). Republicans have seen the power of a third party candidate taking votes away from the likely winner (they faced a similar situation in 1992 with Ross Perot giving the victory to Bill Clinton), and some Republican candidates have tried to mimic that for a Senate seat.

George Bush was given the presidency and the world (with the exception of a few) mourned his administration. 9/11 occurred on his watch. He began expanding warrantless wiretapping right from the beginning of his administration in February 2001 (according to QWest CEO). He ordered the CIA and the military to torture suspects a practice previously we abhorred and usually denounced when we heard other countries practice. He used politics of division rather than union and immediately angered half of his own country. He rightfully went after Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after we were attacked, but instead of focusing on our real enemy, he chose to go after Saddam, with no really good reason to do so. He contracted out security to lawless men who murder innocent Iraqis. He continues to bamboozle America into further war, increasingly raising the specter of war with Iran.

Al Gore went away from the spotlight during this time, but in 2002, as the country was seeing red and Iraq was its target, he spoke out prophetically against the war, and made us who felt he was our real president, long for his leadership instead of the idiot we got.

For Al Gore, winning the Nobel Peace Prize today is the latest twist in a remarkable decade of soaring highs and painful lows. In the span of the last decade he went from being the vice president to being the presumptive Democratic nominee for president to winning the popular vote for president only to lose in the Electoral College — after an intervention by the Supreme Court made his 537-vote loss in Florida official.

Mr. Gore’s decision to give up the fight after the Supreme Court decision left some of his more die-hard supporters bitter, and he by and large retreated from public view for several years. He rarely inserted himself in the public debate, though he did venture out to speak against the invasion of Iraq before it happened. But, associates have said, it was during that quasi-exile that Mr. Gore broke free of the political consultancy that had come to surround him to find his true voice, returning to the environmental issues to which he had devoted his early political career.

Even before Mr. Gore’s so-called “user generated” cable television network, Current, won an Emmy, or the film on climate change in which he starred, “An Inconvenient Truth,” won an Oscar, he was growing in stature for another reason: his early opposition to the Iraq war.

He had initially voiced it in 2002 in an address that his newly galvanized supporters now describe as uncannily prescient and unfairly dismissed, though it was seen as a politically off-kilter at a time of great popularity for President George W. Bush.

The Prize certainly comes as vindication to Mr. Gore, whose early dedication to environmental issues had earned him the derisive nickname “Ozone Man” — “Ozone,” for short — from President George H.W. Bush during the 1992 presidential campaign.

Al Gore went private and became a true leader of the world. He created a TV network, he created a documentary that won him the Oscar for Best Documentary, and he went around the world and raised awareness, enough so that blogs like this write a post with well over 300 comments on global warming. This is raising awareness. And because of this Al Gore won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Conservatives hate this, because they think they see a hypocrite (they of course never look in the mirror—if they did they might have a Dorian Gray moment). They try to downplay the importance of the Nobel Prize, claiming it is political, blah blah blah.

But in the world of power and influence, Al Gore has shown that striving for peace is more powerful and more influential than creating war.

As Noam Scheiber writes:

Watching Al Gore take a well-deserved victory lap this afternoon, I couldn’t help wondering what George W. Bush must be thinking. I mean, I know the guy still believes history will vindicate him and all, but, really, this has got to be pretty painful. Bush, according to various accounts of the 2000 campaign, absolutely despised Gore. He regarded him as a preening, self-righteous phony.

So Bush somehow manages to avenge his father’s defeat and vanquish the vice president of the United States. And yet, seven years later, it’s Gore who’s being hailed around the world as a prophet and a savior and Bush who, if he’s still being discussed at all, is mentioned only as the punchline to some joke, or when his poll numbers reach some new historic low. It must eat him up.

I don’t know if it eats up Mr. Bush, who never cared much of what others thought of him (at least publicly), but it sure brings satisfaction to those of us who wonder why Bush ever became our president.

Blackwater Used Grenade Launcher Against Civilians

October 5, 2007 at 3:47 am | Posted in American politics, blackwater, Bush Administration, Iraq, Military, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Not looking very good at all for Blackwater. Not only does the United States military corroborate what Iraqi civilians at the scene say but apparently Blackwater, feeling that mere machine guns weren’t deadly enough, used a grenade launcher to kill civilians.

The U.S. military reports appear to corroborate the Iraqi government’s contention that Blackwater was at fault in the shooting incident in Nisoor Square, in which hospital records say at least 14 people were killed and 18 were wounded.

“It was obviously excessive, it was obviously wrong,” said the U.S. military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident remains the subject of several investigations. “The civilians that were fired upon, they didn’t have any weapons to fire back at them. And none of the IP or any of the local security forces fired back at them,” he added, using a military abbreviation for the Iraqi police. The Blackwater guards appeared to have fired grenade launchers in addition to machine guns, the official said.

This incident really is far worse than Abu Ghraib. I hope our governmental leaders understand this. Hey Romney, when are you going to fire that Blackwater VP from your policy board? When are you going to speak out against launching grenades at civilians?

Dang, I never thought I would have to make that kind of argument before…

Our War On Terrorism Is Going SOOOO Well…

October 3, 2007 at 8:18 am | Posted in Bush Administration, corruption, Iran, Iraq, Military, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, War, War on Terror | 16 Comments

that Pakistan, a country that has several nukes, is losing the fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Um, er, uh, what are we doing in Iraq again? The same thing that Bin Laden apparently sent some of his goons into Iraq for…

Heck’v’a job, Bushie!

Oh, and instead of preparing Americans to go into Pakistan WHERE WE SHOULD BE ALREADY, Bush and Cheney are preparing Americans to go into Iran! Huh?

General Petraeus Failed to Convince Americans

September 18, 2007 at 12:31 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

A new poll is out and it shows an INCREASE of Americans wanting out of Iraq. This poll comes AFTER General Petraeus’ testimony last week to Congress. It seems the good general failed to convince Americans that indeed things are improving in Iraq.

A word of advice, General. If you are going to try to convince someone, it is best to stick to the truth, and not obfuscate. It is also wise, if you offer statistics, to reveal just how you got to those statistics. Let the truth be your master, and follow it to whatever end, not to the end you desire. It will never go there.

In any case, unfortunately nothing has changed. We’re on to the next Friedman Unit, and the next real conversation will be six months from now. At that time, we will hear from many quarters that we need to continue for another six months, because those next six months will be ‘crucial’ to the war effort. After that, a year from now, we will meet again, and discuss again the need to continue for at least six more months, because those next six months will be ‘crucial’ to the war effort. After that, a year and a half from now, we will meet again, and discuss again the need to continue for at least six more months, because those next six months will be ‘crucial’ to the war effort. After that, two years from now, we will meet again, and discuss again the need to continue for at least six more months, because those next six months will be ‘crucial’ to the war effort. After that, two and a half years from now, we will meet again, and discuss again the need to continue for at least six more months, because those next six months will be ‘crucial’ to the war effort.

And so it goes.

You get the picture yet, America?

You Will Be Bamboozled This Week, America

September 9, 2007 at 3:04 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Iraq, Military, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, United Nations, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | 14 Comments

Let’s just be clear about all the obfuscation you will be hearing, all the muddying of the waters that you will hear this week from General Petraeus and Ambassador Corker. They are Bush loyalists, and will not tell you the truth.

First off is this little nugget in one report out today:

For two hours, President Bush listened to contrasting visions of the U.S. future in Iraq. Gen. David H. Petraeus dominated the conversation by video link from Baghdad, making the case to keep as many troops as long as possible to cement any security progress. Adm. William J. Fallon, his superior, argued instead for accepting more risks in Iraq, officials said, in order to have enough forces available to confront other potential threats in the region.

The polite discussion in the White House Situation Room a week ago masked a sharper clash over the U.S. venture in Iraq, one that has been building since Fallon, chief of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees Middle East operations, sent a rear admiral to Baghdad this summer to gather information. Soon afterward, officials said, Fallon began developing plans to redefine the U.S. mission and radically draw down troops.

One of those plans, according to a Centcom officer, involved slashing U.S. combat forces in Iraq by three-quarters by 2010.

They’re not planning at all to withdraw, or even reduce the size of our forces in Iraq before 2010. They’re in this for the long haul, whether you like it or not, America. Will you stand for this? They won’t care if a Democrat is in power in 2009. They’ll press on the lie to ensure more Americans are over in Iraq to die for…well, we’re not quite sure what. Some “victory” whatever the hell that means.

The second comes from this fascinating report about a UN report supposed to come out now. But notice what is going on:

The United Nations has delayed the release of a quarterly report on human rights in Iraq to avoid criticizing Washington and Baghdad while they are seeking to rally congressional and international support for the war effort, according to U.N. officials.

The move follows a request by Ryan C. Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, to Ashraf Qazi, the United Nations’ top envoy in Baghdad, saying Iraq needs “several weeks” to study the report, according to an account by a senior U.N. official. The delay will effectively postpone debate over the United Nations’ view of Iraq’s sectarian violence — and U.S. and Iraqi efforts to combat it — until after Crocker and Gen. David H. Petraeus deliver a crucial assessment of conditions in Iraq to Congress this week.

A draft of the U.N. report, which was completed last month, focuses primarily on violence committed by Iraqi militias and insurgents, according to U.N. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. But it also documents abuses by U.S. and Iraqi forces during more than four months of the U.S.-backed military buildup in Baghdad. It faults Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, saying it lacks commitment to improving its rights record.

Gee, why would we want to avoid criticizing Washington and Baghdad while they’re trying to build support? Shouldn’t we know the full picture as they are trying to build support? Why hide? Doesn’t the truth set you free?

So just know America. You will be bamboozled.

Oh, and the political positioning by Republicans now is all about 2012. They’re pretty certain to lose 2008 to the Democrats and are trying to position the war so whatever Democratic leader starts in 2009 has a losing war to end, thereby creating the perfect opportunity for Republicans to come back in 2012 as the “saviors” of America from those dastardly liberals.

Why would we want to preposition nuclear weapons at a base conducting Middle East operations?

September 5, 2007 at 8:00 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iran, Military, secret combinations | Leave a comment

That is a really good question.

You ready for nuclear war in the Middle East, America? Because it is coming. Sooner than you think.

Bush and Company Move Goalposts on Iraq, Again

September 5, 2007 at 10:38 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, Iraq, Military | Leave a comment

Any surprise? As Kevin Drum writes:

There’s an awful lot to say about this beyond the obvious point that this goalpost moving is a pretty desperate attempt to dig up something — anything — positive to say about political reconciliation in Iraq. For starters, there’s the fact that the Anbar strategy is entirely accidental and we don’t truly control it. There’s the fact that one of the underlying goals of arming the Sunni tribes is a veiled desire to create an armed balance of power between Sunni and Shia that can’t possibly be stable. There’s the fact that we’re encouraging a de facto balkanization of the country. There’s the fact that even if this strategy is a good one, we don’t have anywhere near enough troops to make it work on a widespread basis. And finally, there’s the fact that the Shiite militias simply aren’t going to allow this strategy to spread to Baghdad.

All of these things are worth posts of their own, and I might even get around to writing one or two of them sometime this week. In the meantime, just be aware that this is apparently the new talking point: national reconciliation doesn’t matter anymore. Tribal reconciliation is where the action is. We’ll let you know how it’s going six months from now.

Indeed, we’ll chat again come April.

The BEST News of the Week!

September 5, 2007 at 9:42 am | Posted in American politics, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Iraq, Larry Craig, Military, Republicans, secret combinations | Leave a comment

Thank you Senator Larry Craig, for deciding not to resign. This means you keep your story in the news, and well keep the Pentagon propaganda machine on the back burner:

TPM Reader KB understands the nexus between imperialism and 24 hour cable …

If Sen. Larry Craig reconsiders and steps all over Gen. Petraeus’ week of surge, Bill Kristol’s head will explode. That Penatagon media war room they set up will be useless in the face of this cable TV zoo.

Support Larry Craig, everbody!

On Iraq, Scrap It and Let’s Start Over

August 31, 2007 at 5:35 am | Posted in America, American politics, conservatives, Iraq, Military, Republicans, secret combinations | Leave a comment

That’s what one panel says we should do about Iraq and the police.

The commission, headed by Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units “be scrapped” and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that “we should start over,” the official said.

….However, a new attempt to disband an Iraqi force would also be risky, given the armed backlash that followed the American decision to dissolve the Iraqi Army soon after the invasion of 2003.

As Kevin Drum notes:

This is becoming a comedy of the absurd. Scrap the Iraqi police force? Start over from scratch? Is this a joke? Even if we could do it, it means (a) putting 26,000 armed and pissed off Iraqis back on the street, (b) running the country without a police force until a new one is recruited and trained, and (c) spending two or three years building a replacement. And that’s the good news. The bad news is that there’s no reason to think the shiny new police force would be any better than the old one. It didn’t improve after all our efforts in 2006, after all. The unpleasant truth is that there’s a reason the police force acts essentially as an extension of the Shiite militias — namely that that’s exactly how the Shiite government wants it — and no reason to think that’s going to change anytime in the near future.

So let’s take stock. Pretty much everyone has lost confidence in Nouri al-Maliki, though there’s no replacement in sight who seems like a better bet. The police force is so corrupt that the best advice the Jones commission can offer is to disband it completely and start over from scratch. And the Iraqi army, after three years of intensive training designed by one Gen. David Petraeus, has a grand total of six battalions capable of operating on their own.

In other words, except for the fact that Iraq has a disfunctional government, a disfunctional police force, and a barely functional army, things are going great. I can’t wait to see how Crocker and Petraeus spin this into an argument for staying another four years.

You Ready For War With Iran? Our Crusade in the Middle East Has a New Target

August 23, 2007 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Foxnews, Iran, Iraq, Military, Republicans, secret combinations, violence, War | 3 Comments

Are you ready America? Because it is coming. See how it is being spun by Fox News.

And be ready, because you just might be called to serve. You also might have the Pentagon proselytize you into the “Christian faith” if you are not careful. hilzoy quotes the LA Times:

“Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering “freedom packages” to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended.

What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which “soldiers for Christ” hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.

The packages were put together by a fundamentalist Christian ministry called Operation Straight Up, or OSU. Headed by former kickboxer Jonathan Spinks, OSU is an official member of the Defense Department’s “America Supports You” program. The group has staged a number of Christian-themed shows at military bases, featuring athletes, strongmen and actor-turned-evangelist Stephen Baldwin. But thanks in part to the support of the Pentagon, Operation Straight Up has now begun focusing on Iraq, where, according to its website (on pages taken down last week), it planned an entertainment tour called the “Military Crusade.”

Apparently the wonks at the Pentagon forgot that Muslims tend to bristle at the word “crusade” and thought that what the Iraq war lacked was a dose of end-times theology.”

What the hell is a “freedom package?”

The Worst Terrorist Attack Since 9/11

August 15, 2007 at 4:57 pm | Posted in 9/11, American politics, Iraq, Military, violence, War, War on Terror | 4 Comments

Well, it looks like this truck bombing in northern Iraq is now the worst terrorist attack since 9/11 in terms of number dead, now placed at 500 poor souls.

The US military continues to lie to the American people. They are saying the purpose of the attack was to “sway public opinion.”

The Tuesday truck bombs that targeted the villages of Qahtaniya, al-Jazeera and Tal Uzair, in northern Iraq near the border with Syria, were a “trademark al Qaeda event” designed to sway U.S. public opinion against the war, a U.S. general said Wednesday.

The attacks, targeting Kurdish villages of the Yazidi religious minority, were attempts to “break the will” of the American people and show that the U.S. troop escalation — the “surge” — is failing, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon said.

See, in the eyes of the US military, any big setback like this HAS to be tied to Al-Qaeda. It cannot possibly be the work of anybody else. Because, see, if it isn’t the work of Al-Qaeda, then it really does mean that our “Surge” is not working very well. The thing is that this incident is actually most likely a conflict over territory between ethnic groups. Note who exactly was targeted. A spectacular bombing like this, if really intended to sway American public opinion would not have taken place against the Yazidi religious minority, but rather indiscriminately somewhere close to Baghdad. Baghdad is the epicenter for public opinion about Iraq. But this takes place far in the north, away from all the real conflict. As Juan Cole states:

The operation resembled the horrific bombing of the Shiite Turkmen of Armili on July 2. Note that first Shiite Turkmen were targeted and now Kurdish Yazidis. They have in common not being Sunni Arabs. My suspicion is that these bombings are not just an attempt to spread fear and intimidation, but are actually part of a struggle for control of territory. The Sunni Arab guerrillas face powerful challenges from Kurds and Shiites with regard to the future of provinces such as Ninevah, Diyala and Kirkuk. A lot of Kurdish police and troops have been deployed in Mosul not far from Tuesday’s bombings, and they are seen as among the deadliest enemies by the Sunni Arab guerrillas. Sooner or later, my guess is that the Sunni Arabs will wage a major war with the Kurds over the oil fields of Kirkuk.

Imagine that, Sunnis caring more about their future vis a vis their neighbors than swaying American public opinion. Imagine that, we’re not at the epicenter of all things on this planet.

A Good Analysis of How Bad Things Are In Iraq

August 10, 2007 at 1:27 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, Military | Leave a comment

They come few and far in between, but occasionally we do get an excellent analysis of how bad things really are in Iraq, this time from the Financial Times.

Two ostensibly benign by-products of the US invading Iraq were: the empowerment of the Shia majority there, giving the sect, a dispossessed minority within Islam, rights denied for centuries; and the welcome panic of an ossified Sunni Arab order based on a toxic mix of despotism and social inequity that incubated extremism. But Iraq’s Shia politicians seem unwilling to put state above sect. Such is the Sunni, jihadi-abetted backlash, and the intra-Shia fight over the spoils, that the Shia have not so much come into their inheritance as entered a new circle of hell.

The Shia-led government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has ceased to pursue even a communalist agenda, preferring the narrower sectarian interest of his faction of the Da’wa party. With the withdrawal of 17 of 38 members of Mr Maliki’s cabinet – including all the Sunnis and two big Shia factions – government has for most practical purposes ceased.

To believe any policy might work in these circumstances – let alone a slow-motion surge – requires heroic optimism. Some of that was placed in Gen David Petraeus, US commander in Iraq. At least until this week.

It turns out those Kalashnikovs went missing on his previous watch, as trainer-in-chief of the still barely existent Iraqi army. Gen Petraeus, a student of counterinsurgency with a PhD from Princeton and a gift for PR, had been lionised for his command of the 101st Airborne division in 2003-04, and especially his “hearts and minds” campaign in the north. After his withdrawal, however, two-thirds of Mosul’s security forces defected to the insurgency and the rest went down like fairground ducks. His forces appear not to have noticed, moreover, that Saudi-inspired jihadis had established a bridgehead in Mosul before the war had even started.

But US commanders seem to have no trouble detecting the hand of Tehran everywhere. This largely evidence-free blaming of serial setbacks on Iranian forces is a bad case of denial. First, the insurgency is overwhelmingly Iraqi and Sunni, built around a new generation of jihadis created by the US invasion. Second, to the extent foreign fighters are involved these have come mostly from US-allied and Sunni Saudi Arabia, not Shia Iran. Third, the lethal roadside bombs with shaped charges that US officials have coated with a spurious veneer of sophistication to prove Iranian provenance are mostly made by Iraqi army-trained engineers – from high explosive looted from those unsecured arms dumps.

Shia Iran has backed a lot of horses in Iraq. If it wished to bring what remains of the country down around US ears it could. It has not done so. The plain fact is that Tehran’s main clients in Iraq are the same as Washington’s: Mr Maliki’s Da’wa and the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq led by Abdelaziz al-Hakim. Iran has bet less on the unpredictable Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army, which has, in any case, largely stood aside during the present troop surge.

So, in sum. Having upturned the Sunni order in Iraq and the Arab world, and hugely enlarged the Shia Islamist power emanating from Iran, the US finds itself dependent on Tehran-aligned forces in Baghdad, yet unable to dismantle the Sunni jihadistan it has created in central and western Iraq. Ignoring its Iraqi allies it is arming Sunni insurgents to fight al-Qaeda. And, by selling them arms rather than settling Palestine it is trying to put together an Arab Sunni alliance (Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) with Israel against Iran. All clear? How can anyone keep a straight face and call this a strategy?

Where have the conservative realists gone? Under what rock are they hiding?

US Military Attacks Sadr City

August 10, 2007 at 9:23 am | Posted in American politics, Iraq, Military | 1 Comment

The United States military attacked Sadr City, and well, the results are not so good. See the images for yourself, courtesy of IraqSlogger.

Yeah, way to win those hearts and minds guys.

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