Saturday, June 07, 2008

YouTube - Red State Update: Waiting For Hillary To Concede

YouTube - Red State Update: Waiting For Hillary To Concede: ""

Turkey on the Brink | The Agonist

Turkey on the Brink | The Agonist: "The"writing is on the wall. In Turkey, a storm is brewing that may plunge the country into its worst political crisis since the turbulent 1970s that were ended by a military coup in 1980. In an unexpectedly unrelenting and confrontational move the Turkish Constitutional Court yesterday ruled a law easing the ban on headscarves at universities unconstitutional. But what may remind American readers of the recent controversy about the ten amendments being displayed in public buildings only constitutes the tip of the iceberg. The faultlines go much deeper. With its verdict to annul a constitutional amendment passed by the ruling AKP in February, the high court has taken sides as plain as can be in the political confrontation that has paralyzed the country's political system for months.

Now the justices are initiating proceedings to ban the AKP and its leading representatives, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gül, altogether. The stage is set for the ultimate confrontation between democratic, moderate-Islamist reformers and the Kemalist Deep State that has had a stranglehold over Turkish politics for decades. With the public deeply divided, the Turkish state faces its worst challenge in recent memory....

The Belmont Club: The glamor of evil

The Belmont Club: The glamor of evil
The posting at Belmont Club is worth reading in full.
The Belmont Club: The sixth of June

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 06/05/2008 | Did Iranian agents dupe Pentagon officials?

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 06/05/2008 | Did Iranian agents dupe Pentagon officials?: "WASHINGTON"Defense Department counterintelligence investigators suspected that Iranian exiles who provided dubious intelligence on Iraq and Iran to a small group of Pentagon officials might have "been used as agents of a foreign intelligence service ... to reach into and influence the highest levels of the U.S. government," a Senate Intelligence Committee report said Thursday.

A top aide to then-secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, shut down the 2003 investigation into the Pentagon officials' activities after only a month, and the Defense Department's top brass never followed up on the investigators' recommendation for a more thorough investigation, the Senate report said.

The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator.

Iran, which was a mortal enemy of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and fought a bloody eight-year war with Iraq during his reign, has been the primary beneficiary of U.S. policy in Iraq, where Iranian-backed groups now run much of the government and the security forces.

The aborted counterintelligence investigation probed some Pentagon officials' contacts with Iranian exile Manucher Ghorbanifar, whom the CIA had labeled a "fabricator" in 1984. Those contacts were brokered by an American civilian, Michael Ledeen, a former Pentagon and National Security Council consultant and a leading advocate of invading Iraq and overthrowing Iran's Islamic regime.

According to the Senate report, the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity unit concluded in 2003 that Ledeen "was likely unwitting of any counterintelligence issues related to his relationship with Mr. Ghorbanifar."

The counterintelligence unit said, however, that Ledeen's association with Ghorbanifar "was widely known, and therefore it should be presumed other foreign intelligence services, including those of Iran, would know."

Stephen Cambone, then the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, shut down the counterintelligence investigation after only a month, the Senate report said.

The Senate report said that Pentagon officials never followed up on the investigators' recommendation for a comprehensive analysis of whether Ghorbanifar or his associates tried "to directly or indirectly influence or access U.S. government officials."

The counterintelligence investigators recommended that U.S. officials attempt "to map Ghorbanifar's relationship within Iranian elite social networks and, if possible, his contacts with other governments and/or intelligence organizations," but that effort was never undertaken.

The Senate committee also found that Pentagon officials concealed the contacts with Ghorbanifar from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department. Pentagon officials also provided Senate investigators with an inaccurate account of events and, with support from two unnamed officials in Cheney's office, continued meeting with Ghorbanifar after contact with him was officially ordered to stop.

The first meetings with Ghorbanifar, which were disclosed in August 2003 by the Long Island, N.Y., newspaper Newsday, took place in Rome in December 2001. They were attended by two Pentagon Iran experts, Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin; by an Italian military intelligence official, and by Ledeen.

On the Iranian side were Ghorbanifar, an unidentified Iranian exile from Morocco and an alleged Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps defector.

Among other things, the Iranians told the Americans about:

Iranian "hit teams" they said were targeting U.S. personnel and facilities in Afghanistan.


What they claimed was Shiite Muslim Iran's longstanding relationship with the secular Palestine Liberation Organization.


"Tunnel complexes in Iran for weapons storage or exfiltration of regime leaders," and about the alleged growth of anti-regime sentiment in Iran.
Franklin, who, in an unrelated matter, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison in 2006 for providing classified information on Iran policy to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, passed the information about the alleged Iranian hit squads to a U.S. Special Forces commander in Afghanistan. Although a DIA analyst told the Senate committee that he couldn't speculate on whether the information had been "truly useful," Ledeen and Pentagon officials claimed it saved American lives, the committee said.

During the Rome meetings, Ghorbanifar also laid out a scheme to overthrow the Iranian regime on a napkin during a late night meeting in a bar. "The plan," said the Senate committee, "involved the simultaneous disruption of traffic at key intersections leading to Tehran that would create anxiety, work stoppages and other disruptive measures" in a capital city famous for its traffic congestion.

Ghorbanifar asked for $5 million in seed money, Franklin told the committee, and indicated that if the traffic jam plan succeeded, he'd need additional money.

"The proposed funding for, and foreign involvement in, Mr. Ghorbanifar's plan for regime change were never fully understood," the Senate committee said.

Nevertheless, Ghorbanifar's proposals grew more ambitious — and expensive. A February 2002 memo from Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman referred to an unnamed foreign government's support for a Ghorbanifar plan that would cost millions of dollars. A later summary referred to contracts "that would assure oil and gas sales in the event of regime change". The U.S. ambassador to Italy said that DOD officials "were talking about 25 million for some kind of Iran program."

After Franklin and Rhode returned from the Rome meetings, the Senate report said, two series of events began to unfold in Washington that were typical of the gamesmanship that plagued the Bush administration's national security team.

"First," the report said, "State Department and CIA officials attempted to determine what Mr. Ledeen and the DOD representatives had done in Rome, and second, DOD officials debated the next course of action."

When the CIA and the State Department discovered that Ledeen and Ghorbanifar were involved, they opposed any further contact with the two. Ledeen's contacts, the Defense Human Intelligence Service concluded, were "nefarious and unreliable," the Senate committee reported.

According to the report, Ledeen, however, persisted, presenting then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith with a new 100-day plan to provide, among other things, evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that supposedly had been moved to Iran — Saddam Hussein's archenemy. This time, the report said, Ledeen solicited support from former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and from three then-GOP senators, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Jon Kyl of Arizona and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

Rhode and Ghorbanifar met again in Paris in June 2003 with at least the tacit approval of an official in Cheney's office, the Senate report said.

He reported back to officials in the Pentagon and the vice president's office, but "there is no indication that the information collected during the Paris meeting was shared with the Intelligence Community for a determination of potential intelligence value," the report said.

[bth: Iran and Israel manipulated our intelligence regarding Iraq for their own purposes. Cheney, Libby, Wolfowitz, Ledeen, Feith and others were involved as willing operatives. At what point treason?]

German spying scandals reawaken dark memories

German spying scandals reawaken dark memories: "A A"spate of chilling snooping scandals involving some of their country's biggest corporations has unsettled Germans who have not forgotten the dark days of the Cold War.

Revelations by Deutsche Telekom, Europe's biggest telecommunications firm, that it illegally monitored phone records in 2005 have reawakened memories of communist East Germany's Stasi secret police and even Hitler's Gestapo.

Also recently surfaced Stasi archives material that top Left party lawmaker Gregor Gysi may have been an informer for the East German police, allegations he denies, have alarmed many.

"The sensitivity to spying is very acute in Germany and that's down to history," said political scientist Jochen Staadt of Berlin's Otto-Suhr Institute, who specializes in the Stasi....

Friday, June 06, 2008

Rowling At Harvard: Failure And Imagination Are Good - Entertainment on The Huffington Post

Rowling At Harvard: Failure And Imagination Are Good - Entertainment on The Huffington Post:... "Rowling"who was given an honorary doctor of letters degree, urged the Harvard grads to use their influence and status to speak out on behalf of the powerless.

"We do not need magic to transform our world," she said. "We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already; we have the power to imagine better."

Imagination gives one the ability to empathize with others, she said.

"Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation," Rowling said. "In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity; it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared."

Rowling described a low point seven years after graduating from college, when she was a poor single mother.

"The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are ever after secure in your ability to survive," Rowling said. "You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity."

She called such knowledge "a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned."

Air Force Chief, Secretary Resign (Updated Yet Again) | Danger Room from Wired.com

Air Force Chief, Secretary Resign (Updated Yet Again) | Danger Room from Wired.com: "The"Air Force's top civilian and uniformed leaders are being booted out of the Pentagon. Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael "Buzz" Moseley has resigned. Secretary Michael W. Wynne is next.

The move, initially reported by Inside Defense and Air Force Times, isn't exactly a shocker. The Air Force has come under fire for everything from mishandling nukes to misleading ad campaigns to missing out on the importance of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Most importantly, the Air Force's leadership has been on the brink of open conflict for months with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England. That's because in the halls of the Air Force's chiefs, the talk has been largely about the threats posed by China and a resurgent Russia. Gates wanted the service to actually focus on the wars at hand, in Iraq and Afghanistan. "For much of the past year I’ve been trying to concentrate the minds and energies of the defense establishment on the current needs and current conflicts," he told the Heritage Foundation. "In short, to ensure that all parts of the Defense Department are, in fact, at war."

Last fall, the Pentagon's civilian chiefs shot down an Air Force move to take over almost all of the military's big unmanned aircraft. "There has to be a better way to do this," Moseley complained at the time. Things only got more tense when Gates said that the future of conflict is in small, "asymmetric" wars -- wars in which the Air Force takes a back seat to ground forces. Then Gates noted that the Air Force's most treasured piece of gear, the F-22 stealth fighter, basically has no role in the war on terror. And when a top Air Force general said the service was planning on buying twice as many of the jets -- despite orders from Gates and the rest of the civilian leadership -- he was rebuked for "borderline insubordination."

Relations between Gates and the Air Force chiefs soured further when the Defense Secretary called for more spy drones to be put into the skies above Iraq and Afghanistan. The Air Force complained that all those extra flight hours were turning the roboplane's remote pilots into virtual "prisoners." Gates then publicly chastised the service during the drone buildup, comparing it to "pulling teeth."

The scrapes harmed the service's image in Congress, and with the public. And so the Air Force launched an $81 million marketing effort to demonstrate its relevance in today's conflicts. Outside analysts wondered whether such a push was in violation of American anti-propaganda laws -- especially after one of the spots was found be be "misleading."

But, according to Air Force Times, "the last straw appears to be a [damning] report on nuclear weapons handling... [that] critical report convinced Gates that changes must be made." That's the reason Gates gave reporters, in a Pentagon press conference today. But it might just have been the excuse he needed to can a pair of bureaucratic adversaries -- read on.

The service inadvertently shipped "four high-tech electrical nosecone fuses for Minuteman nuclear warheads were [t]o Taiwan in place of helicopter batteries. The mistake was discovered in March — a year and a half after the erroneous shipment," The New York Times reports. "The mishandling of the nosecone fuses was viewed as another indication of lack of discipline within America’s nuclear infrastructure, and was another embarrassment for the people in charge of those weapons."

Last fall, the Air Force's 5th Bomb Wing lost track of six nuclear warheads. Then, in mid-May, the service flunked a nuclear surety inspection, when security personnel couldn't even be bothered to stop playing videogames on their cellphones. Now, it looks like Moseley and Wynne has some serious time to play with themselves.

Despite reports you may be reading elsewhere, this firing was not about nukes or missiles, well-placed sources say. "Far and away the biggest issue was the budget stuff, not the nuclear stuff. The UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] fight, the F-22 deal... Gates really didn't appreciate it," one of those sources tells Danger Room. Now, with the botched missile and nuke shipments, "the SecDef [Secretary of Defense] has good cover to do something that suits him bureaucratically."

"The problem seems to be a philosophical difference between Gates and the USAF [U.S. Air Force], not anything to do with nuclear weapons," another adds. And Moseley and Wynne may not be the last to go. Rumors are swirling of more top-level Air Force officers getting the axe. Stay tuned.

[bth: I continue to be impressed with Noah Shachtmans reporting.]

US issues threat to Iraq's $50bn foreign reserves in military deal - Middle East, World - The Independent

US issues threat to Iraq's $50bn foreign reserves in military deal - Middle East, World - The Independent: "The"US is holding hostage some $50bn (£25bn) of Iraq's money in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pressure the Iraqi government into signing an agreement seen by many Iraqis as prolonging the US occupation indefinitely, according to information leaked to The Independent.


US negotiators are using the existence of $20bn in outstanding court judgments against Iraq in the US, to pressure their Iraqi counterparts into accepting the terms of the military deal, details of which were reported for the first time in this newspaper yesterday....


[bth: this is very heavy handed stuff as the article goes on to explain. What are we getting out of this again? What does spending $180 billion to occupy and rebuild Iraq buy the US taxpayer? Is this just a Bush legacy/liability or is there some benefit I'm overlooking?]

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: Obama as Mitzvah

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: Obama as Mitzvah: "'Now" here's a change we can believe in.

A mere 12 hours after claiming the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama appeared before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yesterday -- and changed himself into an Israel hard-liner.

He promised $30 billion in military assistance for Israel. He declared that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force has "rightly been labeled a terrorist organization." He used terms such as "false prophets of extremism" and "corrupt" while discussing Palestinians. And he promised that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

Vowing to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon, the newly minted nominee apparent added: "I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally, Israel. Do not be confused."

How could they be confused? As a pandering performance, it was the full Monty by a candidate who, during the primary, had positioned himself to Hillary Clinton's left on matters such as Iran. Yesterday, Obama, who has generally declined to wear an American-flag lapel pin, wore a joint U.S.-Israeli pin, and even tried a Hebrew phrase on the crowd." Dana Milbank

---------------------------------------------------------------------

"Now, here's a change we can believe in."

A politician like all others, he came to make his kowtow before the most powerful lobby in Washington.

Hilary Clinton probably lost the election before the primary process started, not because she is a woman, but because of her vote to enable Bush to intervene in Iraq. That vote cost it her the support of the anti-war forces in her party and she never recovered from that. Her vote to label the Quds forces of the IRGC as a terrorist organization and therefore the Iranian government as terrorist only reinforced her alienation from the "progressives."

Some of the people who advised her to make those votes were probably sitting in the audience at the AIPAC convention yesterday.

Two of AIPAC's former "staffers" are under indictment and awaiting prosecution i federal court for espionage on behalf of Israel. Their lawyers are playing a most skillful game of "greymail" with the prosecutors. Will these two men ever be tried? Maybe...

McCain's world view is clear. The forces of darkness are arrayed against the forces of light. The forces of darkness gathering behind the Dark Lord, Sauron will march forth from the Iron (or maybe Iran) Gates of Mordor. They must be stopped, somehow by a gathering of the knights. He has seen these dark forces before. So have I.

Obama said to the AIPAC devoted that he would do "anything in his power to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, anything." Anything is a lot for an American president. Under the authorities still in force an American president has complete operational control of the strategic nuclear force. A launch order from him will be obeyed. Why? Easy. It would be a lawful order. An American president would not do that? How sure are you?

In the light of the McBush world view and their designation of Iran as a threat equivalent to a super-power, I question anyone's sureties about such a possibility.

If Cockburn has the story right on the SOFA negotiations in Iraq, one must ask why it is that we want all those bases and control of Iraqi airspace.

This fellow Milbank must have what the WASPs used to call "private means." He is destined to find a home other than the Washington Post. Perhaps he could start a blog of his own. pl

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/990490.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/04/AR2008060403508.html

Download Revealed.doc

[bth: Col Lang pretty much says it the way it is. Note though as of 10:42 there are no comments to his original post when there usually would be a dozen or more.]

US Marine acquitted of all charges in Haditha killings

US Marine acquitted of all charges in Haditha killings: "A"court martial on Wednesday acquitted a US Marine for his role in the deaths of 24 civilians in Haditha in Iraq in 2005, the sixth man to be exonerated in the affair, a military official said.
Lieutenant Andrew Grayson, 27, was declared "not guilty on all charges" by a jury, said a spokesman for the Camp Pendleton military base in southern California where the hearing started on May 28.

Grayson had been charged with making false statements and attempting to fraudulently separate from the Marine Corps. He was also charged with obstruction of justice, but the military judge dismissed this charge Tuesday.

He was the first Marine to stand trial in connection with the killings of 24 men, women and children in Haditha, the most serious war crime allegations leveled at US forces since the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein. ...

[bth: What message does this send to US troops and to Iraqis?]

Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control - Middle East, World - The Independent

Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control - Middle East, World - The Independent: "A"secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.


The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.

But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.

The timing of the agreement would also boost the Republican candidate, John McCain, who has claimed the United States is on the verge of victory in Iraq – a victory that he says Mr Obama would throw away by a premature military withdrawal.

America currently has 151,000 troops in Iraq and, even after projected withdrawals next month, troop levels will stand at more than 142,000 – 10 000 more than when the military "surge" began in January 2007. Under the terms of the new treaty, the Americans would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq. American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for US troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government.

The precise nature of the American demands has been kept secret until now....

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

YouTube - Hootie And The Blowfish - Hold My Hand (Video Version)

YouTube - Hootie And The Blowfish - Hold My Hand (Video Version): ""

YouTube - Marine Hornets Drop a 2,000 Pound JDAM On Muj Hotel

YouTube - Marine Hornets Drop a 2,000 Pound JDAM On Muj Hotel: ""

SPIEGEL Interview with US Senator Chuck Hagel: 'We Have Done Terrible Damage' - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

SPIEGEL Interview with US Senator Chuck Hagel: 'We Have Done Terrible Damage' - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News: "Should"Barack Obama win in November, many think that Republican Senator -- and Bush critic -- Chuck Hagel could become part of his cabinet. SPIEGEL spoke with him about the current administration's mistakes and the disarray in his own party.

SPIEGEL: Senator Hagel, your friend and Republican presidential candidate John McCain says that the United States Army has a moral obligation to stay in Iraq. Is he right?

Hagel: We have responsibilities, no doubt about it. We invaded Iraq, we are occupying Iraq and we have made Iraq dependent on us. By our actions we have done terrible damage to our own country and undermined our interests in the world.

SPIEGEL: What are the consequences?

Hagel: Our first moral obligation is to our own people whom we keep sending back to Iraq again and again. Four-thousand US soldiers have given their lives, over 30,000 have been wounded, many seriously. I just got an e-mail today from the father of a helicopter pilot. His son is going back to Iraq for the fifth time. That is not acceptable.

SPIEGEL: The question is: Should the US go or should it stay?

Hagel: We need to get out, but responsibly. Much depends on how we are going to engage Iran. That spills over into the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. It spills over into Lebanon. It spills over into the relationship with Syria. We need a regional strategy, and in my view that means a permanent Middle East conference in which all Middle East nations participate. The longer we stay in Iraq, the more difficult it becomes to implement such a process. Many of the Arab nations don’t trust us....

[bth: Hagel is a wonderful person and I certainly hope that Obama has the intelligence to add him to his cabinet.]

ARMED FORCES JOURNAL - How Marines are preparing for hybrid wars - March 2006

ARMED FORCES JOURNAL - How Marines are preparing for hybrid wars - March 2006: ...."The"choice between an amphibious Marine Corps of the past and one devoted solely to the modern version of Kipling’s “savage wars of peace” is strategically flawed, however. While many defense analysts, myself included, might like to see both the Pentagon and the Corps make distinct adjustments to today’s Long War, valid requirements for maritime power projection and forcible-entry operations remain at some level. While it might be nice to imagine what might have been had the nation been better prepared for al-Qaida’s challenge and Iraq’s incipient insurgency, it is impossible for those responsible for sailing into “the fog of peace” to overlook U.S. security interests in large maritime-oriented theaters such as the Pacific Ocean. While the future remains opaque and the stars clouded, it is equally hard to overlook the changing geopolitical landscape in the Indian Ocean and the Far East and remain totally committed to Small Wars as the sole mission of today’s Spartans.

Because we cannot blithely assume away the need to project power far from the U.S. into opposed situations in an era where anti-access capabilities are proliferating, the sea-based skills inherent to today’s Marine Corps should not be tossed away lightly.

Another problem that could pose future strategic rocks and shoals is the nature of future wars. Again, a simplistic choice of big versus small wars is flawed. We should not imagine that all future threats will be state-based and conventional. Nor should we assume that state-based conflict has passed into history’s dustbin. State-based conflict is less likely, but it is not extinct. Nor is it entirely conventional in nature. Too many in the Pentagon are waving China around as the next peer competitor in order to dismiss the new irregular threats and revert back to their intellectual comfort zone — a big-war paradigm. Such a view overlooks non-Western military thinking and Chinese strategic culture.

Tomorrow’s conflicts will not be easily categorized into simple classifications of conventional or irregular. In fact, some of today’s best thinking acknowledges the blurring of lines between modes of war. Mike Evans from Australia’s Land Warfare Center had defined the future as “a world of asymmetric and ethnopolitical warfare — in which machetes and Microsoft merge, and apocalyptic millenarians wearing Reeboks and Ray Bans dream of acquiring WMD.” Colin Gray, in his latest book, “Another Bloody Century,” also characterizes future conflict as blurred.

Rather than the simplistic quad chart found in the new National Defense Strategy, future scenarios will more likely present unique combinational or hybrid threats specifically designed to target U.S. vulnerabilities. Conventional, irregular and catastrophic terrorist challenges will not be distinct styles — they will all be present in some form. This could include states blending high-tech capabilities, such as anti-satellite weapons, with terrorism and cyber-warfare directed against financial targets. Rage and despair can now be translated into catastrophic levels of violence at greater distance, abetted by globalization and systems we ourselves have designed. Violence will not be a monopoly of states. We will face major states capable of supporting covert and indirect means of attack, as well as super-empowered fanatics capable of direct and highly lethal attacks undercutting the sinews of global order. Opponents will be capable of what Marine Lt. Gen. James Mattis has called “hybrid wars.” In such conflicts, future adversaries exploit access to encrypted command systems, man-portable surface-to-air missiles and other modern lethal systems, as well as promote protracted insurgencies that employ ambushes, improvised explosive devices and coercive assassinations. Cunning savagery and continuous organizational adaptation are the only constant. Hybrid wars will never be characterized as low intensity, or lesser-included operations. They may involve extended and extremely lethal conflicts of the most persistent violence.

Hybrid wars do not allow us the luxury of building single-mission forces. What is necessary is for the Marines to achieve resynthesis to achieve a better mix of expeditionary tools. This new balance should retain the Corps’ historical role as the nation’s shock troops, but also prepare the Marines for more protracted and subtle missions instead of “first in/first out” missions or short “operational raids” from the sea.

And while the Corps major acquisition projects may not be appreciated, the capabilities generated by the V-22 and the EFV are clearly required. The V-22’s speed is its best counter, whether in conducting deep penetrations or quickly bringing reinforcements to an embattled special operations team, which may be the reason they are in favor of it. The EFV’s modern armor, speed and potent firepower outclasses other infantry fighting vehicles, and its water borne capabilities have applications far beyond traditional ship-to-shore maneuver. Maneuvering through the rivers, canals, and marsh lands of Iraq has highlighted the benefits of supposed “niche” capabilities.

NEW VISION

Although the Marines stumbled by not initially embracing Krulak’s clarion call, they’ve been making up lost ground rapidly. The present commandant’s new vision clearly acknowledges that the Corps’ future is in irregular warfare, and he’s embraced an emphasis on small-unit leaders that will lead to improved war-fighting excellence. Among current initiatives being undertaken, the following have particular merit in a world of hybrid conflicts:

• Institutionalizing urban training and established large-scale training centers for city fighting.

• Formalizing stability- and support-operations training for pre-deploying units.

• Revamping the semichoreographed combined-arms exercise at Twentynine Palms, Calif., into the well-received Mojave Viper event, which has created a more comprehensive and realistic training environment.

• Enhancing what already was a superb educational foundation in irregular warfare at Marine Corps University.

• Introducing pioneering efforts in language training at MCU and establishing a Center for Advanced Operational Cultural Learning at Quantico to infuse cultural awareness throughout the Corps’ training and educational continuum.

• Tweaking the Corps’ force structure to incorporate missing expertise in information operations and civil affairs while generating depth in intelligence, reconnaissance, military police and explosive ordnance disposal units.

• Establishing foreign-military training units to assist American foreign policy in preventing crises rather than reacting to them.

• Designing and testing a Marine component to support U.S Special Operations Command.

The most important step Corps leadership is taking is centered on enhancing the professionalism of the young noncommissioned officer. Despite recruiting commercials acclaiming the individual Marine as the world’s most potent warrior, the Corps does not significantly invest in the training and education junior Marine NCOs. Noting that small wars are won by small-unit leaders, the Corps’ current leadership realizes that existing “rule sets” that govern how they select, train and educate noncommissioned officers need retooling. Their preparation for combat decision-making is at the heart of major Marine initiatives, rigorous experimentation and sharply increased funding.

As former Marine Capt. Nathan Fick put it so forcefully in The New York Times, the dumb grunt is an anachronism. He has been replaced by the strategic corporal. Immense firepower and improved technology have pushed decision-making with national consequences down to individual enlisted men. Modern warfare requires that even the most junior infantryman master a wide array of technical and tactical skills.

To produce Marines in the 21st century, imbued with an aggressive warrior ethos and armed with modern capabilities that will enable them to prevail against traditional and nontraditional foes, the Corps plans to sharply upgrade the suite of equipment of its basic infantry units as well as make the kind of training investments that the British and Australians do with their NCOs.

The key remaining challenge is to identify resources so the Corps’ budget supports both its power projection and persistent-presence roles. New missions and new capabilities suggest that additional resources are needed to size the Corps appropriately and to fund critical training programs. Some running room must be found in the budget to better posture the Marines for hybrid wars. With the necessary resources, tomorrow’s Marines will be as ready for hybrid wars as their predecessors have always been in the past.

Howard once quipped that whatever conception of future warfare the military focused on, it would turn out wrong. However, this did not disturb him. The real trick is not to be perfectly prophetic; it’s more important to “not be too badly wrong” and to readily acknowledge gaps and react quickly.

Despite the bewildering complexities of today’s global insurgency, the Marines did not get it “too badly wrong.” True, many at Quantico in the late 1990s were focused on future amphibious assaults — modern Inchons with greater speed and deeper thrusts. Too little attention in the acquisition budget was given to the “stepchildren of Chechnya” and strategic corporals. But while many tactics had yet to be worked out, the Marine Corps’ expeditionary mind-set and organizational framework proved more than adequate. Most important, thanks to a superb educational system, the officer corps was intellectually prepared. The organizational DNA of the Marine Corps retained its inherent flexibility and penchant for innovation. More than any other service, when the fog of peace cleared, the Marines were ready to sail into action in 2001, and will be in 2020 if their program for continuous evolution is not dismasted by the Pentagon’s transformation designs.

Soldier weeps recalling Afghanistan suicide bomb attack - Telegraph

Soldier weeps recalling Afghanistan suicide bomb attack - Telegraph: "A"soldier wept as he recalled his decision to get life-saving treatment for a colleague wounded in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan – while leaving another soldier behind.
WO Simon Edgell, of 1st Bn Grenadier Guards, was faced with the choice of searching the area for Sgt David Wilkinson, 33, who was thrown from his vehicle, or leaving him there and getting another colleague medical care.

He told an inquest at Trowbridge town hall in Wiltshire that, fearing Sgt Wilkinson was dead, he decided to get medical help for Sgt Carl Shadrake, who was bleeding badly from a ruptured windpipe and neck artery.

WO Edgell said he was unable to radio for help because he had to maintain pressure on Sgt Shadrake's wound. He opted instead to alert colleagues at Price base about 10 minutes drive from Gereshk, Helmand Province, where the incident happened last summer.

WO Edgell, who was in a vehicle that had been in front of Sgt Wilkinson's, said: "I made the decision that I had to get the casualties – one bleeding very badly – back to Price.'

"I made the decision to get Sgt Shadrake medical treatment without delay, otherwise I thought he might die."

He broke down as he recalled telling a colleague: "I can't find Dave."

Sgt Wilkinson's body was later found in a drainage ditch. The cause of death was confirmed to be as a result of head injuries.

His widow, Rachel, who was attending the hearing, also burst into tears as she heard surviving soldiers' accounts. Sgt Wilkinson, of 19 Regiment Royal Artillery, had been driving a weapon-mounted Land Rover when a device containing ball bearings was detonated.

The blast, on July 1 last year, injured four other soldiers, one seriously.

Sgt Wilkinson, based at Larkhill, Wilts, had been part of a Grenadier Guards team training the Afghan National Army.

A pair of sandals was found between two sacks beside the road where the explosion occurred. It is thought the bomber hid between the sacks, detonating the device as Sgt Wilkinson's vehicle passed.

David Masters, the Wiltshire coroner, recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

On WO Edgell's decision to leave Sgt Wilkinson behind, he said: "In the agony of that moment he has to make a decision.

''He knows that he has one serviceman very seriously injured. He knows he must get to the medical centre as quickly as possible, and that he did – understandably, in my opinion."

The hearing heard that Sgt Shadrake survived his wounds

YouTube - Robot Combat Mule on FutureWeapons

YouTube - Robot Combat Mule on FutureWeapons: ""

More Nato troops needed in Afghanistan, says outgoing chief - Telegraph

More Nato troops needed in Afghanistan, says outgoing chief - Telegraph: "Gen"Dan McNeill said he was handing over an "under-resourced" force to his successor, Gen David McKiernan.

"This is an under-resourced war and it needs more manoeuvre units, it needs more flying machines, it needs more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance apparatus," said Gen McNeill.

''I'm not just focused on the US sector, I'm talking about across the country."

The International Security Assistance Force has 53,000 troops from 40 countries, up from 33,000 in February 2007.

During Nato's summit in Budapest in April, America urged other Nato countries to send more troops and lift the restrictions that often hampered their work.

At present, French and German troops are confined to the safer areas of central and northern Afghanistan and are banned from operating in the battlefronts of the east and south.

Gen McNeill pointed out that America's counter-insurgency textbooks would recommend 400,000 soldiers to stabilise a country of Afghanistan's size and terrain.

Nato's new commander, Gen McKiernan, masterminded the US ground invasion of Iraq in 2003. Securing more troops and deploying those available where they were needed most would be his highest priorities
.

Gen McKiernan, who is one of America's most experienced officers, formally assumed command of Nato forces at a ceremony in Kabul attended by President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. The general said: "While today marks a transition in commanders, the mission must continue without missing a beat."

"Insurgents, foreign fighters, criminals and others who stand in the way of that mission will be dealt with."

[bth: fundamentally we need more troops in Afghanistan. Where does this point come into the presidential debate going on in America? It seems it doesn't.]

Obama, Propelled by the Net, Wins Democratic Nomination | Threat Level from Wired.com

Obama, Propelled by the Net, Wins Democratic Nomination | Threat Level from Wired.com: ..."This"is what happens is when you have a charismatic candidate, and you organize on a scale not seen before," he adds. "Literally, the size and scale of this is unprecedented in American political history, and it wouldn't have been possible without the money, and passion, and support of millions of American people."

The campaign came up with a number of innovations on the internet. It used wikis -- online collaborative software -- to coordinate and churn out precinct captains in both California and Texas. And it created a counter-viral e-mail campaign to combat the anonymous e-mail smears that question his religious faith and patriotism. It set up policy pages that solicited ideas from supporters, and at one point, the campaign solicited letters from supporters over the internet to lobby the undecided superdelegates.

And Obama's campaign constantly updated its YouTube channel to keep its supporters around the country up to speed on his latest speeches.

Obama's campaign spent significant resources on physical offices in battleground states. But those efforts often came to follow the informal infrastructure that his supporters built ahead of time by finding each other through my.barackobama.com and coordinating off-line to campaign for their candidate.

The most obvious area in which it led was online fund-raising. Just under half its record-level of $265 million raised so far came from donations of $200 or less, much of which flowed to the campaign through the internet. The Clinton campaign ended up tweaking its fund-raising approach after Obama's initial successes and began asking supporters for smaller amounts of money in online fund-raising drives following each primary victory.

In contrast to Obama's campaign, presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has raised only $90.5 million during the same 2007 and 2008 period. Just over a third of his donations came from the $200-and-under crowd. Forty-two percent of it came through contributions at the maximum $2,000 level. For Obama, just under a quarter of his donations came from $2,000-level donations....

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Wearable Feedbags Let Americans Eat More, Move Less | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

New Wearable Feedbags Let Americans Eat More, Move Less | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "
New Wearable Feedbags Let Americans Eat More, Move Less"
New Wearable Feedbags Let Americans Eat More, Move Less

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: "Colonialism or Counterinsurgency"

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: "Colonialism or Counterinsurgency": "These"converts to the new US doctrine of "modern counterinsurgency" are reading Victorian era guidebooks, consulting "battlefield anthropologists"

(aka Human Terrain Specialists !), and striving to achieve the "developmental asymptote".

What they seem to ignore is that the Afghans (really the Pakhtuns) have been

dealing with invaders for thousands of years. They ambush and kill them when

they can; they make nice and take their money when they must; then turn around and slit their throats when they can again. What they never do is adopt the "civilization" of the invaders, or accept them as masters.

The British ruled (and partly anglicized) the variegated peoples of India, but they failed to overcome the Pakhtuns (in Afghanistan and India's borderlands). That is why they left them alone, and paid good tribute to ensure reciprocal treatment.

The French commander said it best about using counterinsurgency : It means the entire population become the subject of your war, and you either will have to stay there forever or you have lost. Some US officers in Afghanistan

(and, probably, Iraq, too) seem to be quite prepared to stay there forever.

Instead of reading Victorian guidebooks, perhaps they should read the newspapers from back home."

Brigadier (Ret.) Farrukh B Ali"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Our friend FB Ali has given us this article from the Toronto Globe and Mail. In spite of its formulaic Yankee bashing there are things in the piece that are "food for thought." pl

[bth: the comments in the original thread on Col. Lang's site are worth reading in full as is the original article from Canada.]
War and Piece: "Iran"sanctions figure large in AIPAC lobbying:

... The Iran Counter Proliferation Act would expand existing sanctions by hitting companies and nations that deal with Iran's energy sector. It also would cut off Iran entirely from the U.S. finance system.

Bolstering that bill is a nonbinding resolution put forward last week by U.S. Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.). The resolution urges President Bush to immediately impose some of the sanctions in the Counter Proliferation Act and adds the new proposal: cut off the export of refined petroleum to Iran.

"Despite sitting on some of the largest oil reserves in the world, Iran has been forced to import 40 percent of its refined petroleum -- gasoline and diesel -- because of a lack of investment in its oil refining infrastructure," states the memo prepared for AIPAC activists. "Limiting Iran’s ability to import gasoline will severely impact Iran’s economy and could lead to dramatically greater domestic pressure on the regime to change course."

The language of the congressional resolution is sensitive to the political realities of a presidential campaign that has made the possibility of war against Iran a partisan issue: It explicitly counts out military action -- a point hammered home in the AIPAC talking points.

"The resolution specifically states that nothing in the resolution shall be construed to be an authorization for military action," the sheet says. "In fact, the sanctions called for in H. Con. Res. 362 are the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability by avoiding military action."

Additionally, the action part of the resolution opens by declaring "that preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, through all appropriate economic, political, and diplomatic means is vital to the national security interests of the United States and must be dealt with urgently."

Notably absent from AIPAC's talking points is any mention of military force -- a prospect that spooks Democrats and would discomfit an organization that prides itself on its bipartisanship. ...

More here.

[bth: with a naval blockade and a missile strike on Iran's refineries we could stop their economy cold. We know it. Iran knows it. It's called deterrence and better left unused... One must ask, what is the end state of an alternative - a blockade? War with Iran? The expenditure of US wealth and resources to fight Israel's war like some dumb big brother? ... Notice how AIPAC each year pushes its toady media and politicians? Fundamentally are we willing and prepared to fight Iran? For what? How does that benefit America? I can see better benefits from selective engagement - a stable Iraq just to name one.]

Comments from Blogger RANGER AGAINST WAR

RANGER AGAINST WAR:... "They"boil down to the following: Foreign armies of occupation attempting to impose their will and political agenda upon an unreceptive indigenous population.

Call them what you will in Iraq and Afghanistan, our strategic air command and our superior firepower can not remove their will to fight. In fact, the opposite is the case as our application of combat power only steels their will to resist.

The Battle of Roberts Ridge in Afghanistan is but one example. There, SOF assets engaged Chechens in shower sandals at high altitudes in freezing temperatures, but regardless of casualties claimed, U.S. combat power never occupied a battle area or denied hostiles from moving in the battle area.

In the Murphy MOH scenario (Operation Red Wing), hostiles engaged and destroyed U.S. SOF assets while remaining militarily viable. They were able to engage a U.S. Marine conventional battalion at task Force level, in effect, a reinforced battalion (battalion plus). Result: the U.S. targets evaded and escaped destruction by moving to a safe haven.

From the hostile's point of view, the U.S. is simply another foreign occupier in a long list, all of whom were ultimately defeated. The Marines can maraud and maneuver at will and the locals will sidestep, fight and evaporate until the Marines move on. Is this victory?

Same in Iraq, where U.S. forces may destroy and occupy Fallujah, but when we leave, the local fighters return. When the time is convenient, even the new Army of Iraq will turn on its U.S. sponsors. We are fighting by WWI rules, though no longer in the trenches. It is a war of attrition that does not favor the U.S.

We talk of COIN but fight battles of attrition which are meaningless expenditures of American lives. The hostile fighters know that U.S. forces are operating at the end of their tethers. They lack the assets and ability to fight protracted engagements. In addition, U.S. forces lack clear military objectives.

We have freedom of maneuver yet it leads to no quantifiable objective. Our freedom of movement gives the illusion we are winning when in fact it we are running through a meat grinder chewing up convoys and troops, a fact which enhances the enemy's will to fight and diminishes ours.

Ranger can not think of any instance of an invading army destroying a resistance movement's will to fight. The vaunted Nazi military could not eliminate the partisans in France, Russia and Yugoslavia, and the Brits never achieved dominance in Northern Ireland. The resistance perdured. Time is on their side.

We object to U.S. military operations that are not aimed at threats to the U.S.

Threats facing the U.S. include gas, food and housing prices, disappearing jobs, runaway budgets, falling student academic achievement and a depressed economy. These are real threats to the security of America.

--Jim

[bth: totally lacking in the national discussion on Iraq and Afghanistan is what ARE our objectives there? Note how McCain and Obama talk a strategy of 100 year occupation or immediate withdrawal but to what end? What is the desired end state?]

How Iran pulls the strings in Iraq

BBC NEWS | Middle East | How Iran pulls the strings in Iraq: "Iran"played a crucial role in securing the recent ceasefire in the Sadr City area of Baghdad, just as it helped broker an earlier truce in the southern city of Basra.


Its role in curbing fighting between Iraqi Shia factions sheds a revealing light on the extent of its influence in the country.

It also appears that the Iraqi president, Kurdish politician Jalal Talabani, has been a key intermediary between the Iraqi government and the Iranians.

Phase One: Basra

The latest phase in the Shia power struggle in Iraq began in March when, without warning, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki sent his forces to break the power of the militias who had taken over Basra.

Their prime target was the Mehdi Army, the militia of the young Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

But in six days of fighting, the Mehdi Army managed to hold its own.

To the prime minister's embarrassment, hundreds of his troops deserted.

Iran, with its close ties to both the government and the Shia factions, intervened to end the violence.

According to a detailed report in the Christian Science Monitor, this followed an appeal from President Talabani to the commander of Iran's Quds Force, Brig Gen Qassem Soleimani.

US officials have accused the Quds Force - the external arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards - of arming and training Iraqi Shia militias.

Phase Two: Sadr City

The fighting in Basra eventually subsided, but the intra-Shia violence shifted to the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City.

The sprawling suburb is home to more than two million Shia and is the stronghold of the Mehdi Army.

The fighting was intense, lasting seven weeks and leaving up to 1,000 dead and many more displaced.

Government forces had the backing of US troops and US air power.

Despite the prime minister's tough talk, it looked as though he was unwilling to take the risky step of an all-out assault on Sadr City.

Once again, there was an appeal to Iran.

A delegation of Iraqi Shia politicians close to Mr Maliki went to Tehran, ostensibly to present the Iranians with evidence of their interference in Iraq.

But the unstated purpose was to seek Iran's help in ending the violence in Sadr City.

The fact that Moqtada al-Sadr is widely believed to be in Iran encourages the view that Iran may have some leverage over him.

The truce signed on Monday is fragile, but the episode is further proof that Iran can be very influential when it chooses to be.

A message to Petraeus

Even more intriguingly, the Christian Science Monitor reports a second meeting between President Talabani and Gen Soleimani, in early April.

According to the paper, the latter sent a message to the top American commander in Iraq, Gen Petraeus.

Its tone was surprisingly conciliatory.

"We must all work together - Iraq, Iran and the United States - to stabilise the situation," the Iranian general reportedly said.

More surprising still, he described Moqtada Sadr as "the biggest threat to peace in Iraq" and said his movement was "outside anyone's control".

It is hard to judge the significance of the message, and the Americans are said to be sceptical.

In public, there is no let-up in the hostility between Tehran and Washington, with each blaming the other for the violence in Iraq.

But what the whole affair illustrates is that Iran's ability to pull strings in Iraq is not to be underestimated.

[bth: it would seem that there are common interests with Iran in Iraq that we could and should develop out of necessity.]

A former al-Qaeda fighter accuses a Saudi charity | Philadelphia Inquirer | 05/31/2008

A former al-Qaeda fighter accuses a Saudi charity | Philadelphia Inquirer | 05/31/2008: "DOBOJ"Bosnia - For years, Saudi Arabia flatly denied it had provided money and logistical support for Islamist militant groups that attacked Western targets.

But that assertion is disputed by a former al-Qaeda commander who testified in a United Nations war-crimes trial that his unit was funded by the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ali Ahmed Ali Hamad, the former al-Qaeda fighter, gave the same account to The Inquirer in an interview in this struggling city in the central Balkans.

"Because it was the biggest charity, [the commission] helped the mujaheddin the most," Hamad said, adding that it had provided "everything a person needed to exist."

Hamad, 37, is expected to be called as a witness in a lawsuit filed by Cozen O'Connor alleging that Saudi Arabia and affiliated charities financed al-Qaeda and other groups as they geared up for the 9/11 attacks.

As a convicted terrorist, Hamad is an imperfect witness.

During the Balkans war, from 1992 to 1995, jihadists from North Africa and the Middle East were accused of atrocities against indigenous Serbs and Croatians.

Hamad admits having done "bad things" as an al-Qaeda fighter, and he is serving a 10-year sentence in a Bosnian jail for his role in a 1997 Mostar bombing.

Yet Hamad's account of his time in the Balkans went largely uncontroverted during the U.N. trial, where he was a prosecution witness.

He contends that the Saudi High Commission, an agency of the Saudi government, and other Islamist charities supported al-Qaeda-led units that committed atrocities. Mujaheddin units, he said, recruited fighters, prepared for battle, and financed their operations in the Balkans.

He said the Saudi High Commission had poured tens of millions of dollars into mujaheddin units led by al-Qaeda operatives who fought with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

Money intended for humanitarian relief bought weapons and other military supplies.

The charities also provided false identification, employment papers, diplomatic plates and vehicles that permitted Islamist fighters to enter the country and pass easily through military checkpoints, Hamad said.

Several charity offices, including those of the Saudi High Commission, were led by former mujaheddin or al-Qaeda members, at least one of whom trained with Hamad in an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, he said.

Like other al-Qaeda fighters, Hamad said, he was an employee of the Saudi High Commission for a time and traveled through the war zone in commission vehicles with diplomatic plates.

Pakistani Taliban commander spends $45 million yearly - The Long War Journal

Pakistani Taliban commander spends $45 million yearly - The Long War Journal: "Baitullah"Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban and the commander in South Waziristan, spends more money on yearly operations than al Qaeda spent year prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province.

"He is spending between Rs 2.5 - 3 billion [about $45 million] yearly on procuring weapons, equipment, vehicles, treating wounded militants and keeping families of killed militants fed," Governor Owais Ahmed Ghan told Daily Times. Ghan said the money could not have come from donations alone; the opium trade in Afghanistan is filling Baitullah's coffers.

Most of the money is spent on "the means of communication — vehicles, fuel and equipment — and then on treatment of wounded fighters, and lastly on keeping the killed comrades’ families fed," Zulfiqar Mehsud, an aide to Baitullah, told Daily Times last March. "We have to change vehicles after we use them for a year. Every vehicle at our disposal must be in top condition because we have very rough and tough roads and hilly areas and cannot afford to keep vehicles that are not as fit as our job requires."

Baitullah is thought to operate a force of more than 20,000 fighters, some of whom are professionally trained. His forces beat back Pakistani Army assaults in 2007 and 2008, and overran two military outposts in South Waziristan. His fighters also captured an entire Pakistani Army company without firing a shot.

The operating costs for Baitullah's forces in South Waziristan exceed that of al Qaeda, according to numbers compiled by the 9-11 Commission and terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna. The 9-11 Commission report says al Qaeda central spent an estimated $30 million for yearly operations, which included salaries for members, the operation of training camps, weapons, vehicles, and the development of training manuals.

Al Qaeda also spent an estimated $10 million–$20 million per year to receive a safe haven from the Taliban in Afghanistan. "Bin Laden also may have used money to create alliances with other terrorist organizations, although it is unlikely that al Qaeda was funding an overall jihad program," the 9-11 Commission Report states. "Rather, Bin Laden selectively provided startup funds to new groups or money for specific terrorist operations."

Gunaratna's numbers are similar. He estimates al Qaeda spent $36 million a year on operations in Afghanistan, and another $14 million for global operations, putting the yearly budget at about $50 million. Gunaratna’s estimate of al Qaeda's funding of the Taliban and allied terrorist movements is much higher than the 9-11 Commission Report's estimate.

"To buy loyalty, Al Qaeda also funded individuals in various Islamist groups, including the Taliban, to the tune of $100 million," Gunaratna said, citing US intelligence sources.

Baitullah is but one Taliban commander

While Baitullah is arguably the most important and capable Taliban leader in Pakistan's tribal areas and in the Northwest Frontier Province, he is not the only one. The $45 million cited does not extend to leaders such as Faqir Mohammed in Bajaur, Mullah Fazlullah in Swat, the Haqqanis in North Waziristan, Mangal Bagh Afridi in Khyber, Omar Khalid in Mohmand, and others in the region.

And Baitullah may not be receiving the largest funding in Pakistan, a senior US military intelligence source familiar with the Taliban in Pakistan told The Long War Journal. Bajaur's Faqir Mohammed may be receiving more money than Baitullah, the source said.

Faqir has close links to al Qaeda (he is believed to have sheltered Ayman al Zawahiri several times) and Bajaur serves as an al Qaeda command and control center for operations into eastern Afghanistan. His safe houses and training camps have been the target of several US airstrikes since 2006.




For more information on the terms of the peace agreements in Swat, Bajaur, and Mohmand, and the proposed terms for the agreements in South Waziristan and Kohat, see:

Pakistani government inks peace deal with Swat Taliban
Pakistan is negotiating a new peace agreement with Baitullah Mehsud (South Waziristan)
Pakistan releases Taliban leader, signs peace deal with outlawed Taliban group(Bajaur, Malakand Division)
Pakistan strikes deal with the Taliban in Mohmand
Negotiations with the Taliban under way in Kohat

See The Fall of Northwestern Pakistan: An Online History for more information on the rise of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan and the peace agreements signed between the government and the Taliban

Soldiers need to tell stories

Soldiers need to tell stories: "Master"Cpl. Paul Franklin lost his legs in a suicide attack in Afghanistan on Jan. 15, 2006. He was fitted with prosthetic legs and just over four months after the attack he was to reach an important milestone: he was able to walk his son to school.

"For me, that was my Mount Everest," he said.

The Canadian military medic then turned his sights towards others by launching the Franklin Foundation. The organization originally aimed to help amputees in northern Alberta but he has since made it a nationwide initiative.

On Friday, he kicked off a Canadian tour, speaking to about 100 people who filled the Vedder Legion Br. 280 about working in Afghanistan and recovering at home.

His biggest strength must be his sense of humour. He joked about how "Canadian" it was when the troops who arrived asked all the Afghan locals what the coalition could do for them.

He also spoke of the work Canadians are doing in addition to military effort to restore order in Afghanistan.

"We believe in this cause. We believe in what we're doing," he said.

He said the Afghan government is trying to rebuild on a relatively small budget: "It is very difficult. They're kind of behind the eight ball."

This is all in the face of attacks like the one that took his legs, left two of his colleagues with brain injuries and killed a Canadian diplomat. Franklin pointed to a simple thing like a combat application tourniquet as the reason he is still alive. He said the public needs to hear more from soldiers about what they face in the field of battle and what they need.

"We don't have enough of our soldiers telling these stories," he said.

His campaign is in part to raise the profile of what soldiers do, as well as to his campaign to help people like himself who have lost limbs. Franklin pointed to recent development in prosthetics, which are now being developed so that they can be controlled by nerve impulses and thought processes
.

"The concept of amputee care has changed," he said.

He wants the Franklin Foundation to support such innovative work. Between various sponsors and donors, the Legion raised more than $4,200 for his organization. Franklin also stayed after his talk to sign copies of his book, The Long Walk Home, which is also raising money for the foundation

Monday, June 02, 2008

General Ricardo Sanchez's Book Slams Bush, Iraq Handling - Politics on The Huffington Post

General Ricardo Sanchez's Book Slams Bush, Iraq Handling - Politics on The Huffington Post: "The"Washington Post points out that in the hubbub of the McClellan book, another scathing memoir has come out exposing the truth behind Iraq.

Getting lost in the media furor over McClellan's memoir is the new autobiography of retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the onetime commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, who is scathing in his assessment that the Bush administration "led America into a strategic blunder of historic proportions."



Among the anecdotes in "Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story" is an arresting portrait of Bush after four contractors were killed in Fallujah in 2004, triggering a fierce U.S. response that was reportedly egged on by the president.

During a videoconference with his national security team and generals, Sanchez writes, Bush launched into what he described as a "confused" pep talk:

"Kick ass!" he quotes the president as saying. "If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can't send that message. It's an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal."

"There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking
!"

A White House spokesman had no comment

[bth: could anyone imagine FDR talking like this cheerleader president?]

Soldiers Discuss Using "Drop Weapons" To Cover Up Killing Innocent Iraqi Civilians - The Huffington Post

Soldiers Discuss Using "Drop Weapons" To Cover Up Killing Innocent Iraqi Civilians - The Huffington Post

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: George Bush and NPD

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: George Bush and NPD: "DSM"Criteria

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following.

has a grandiose sense of self-importance
is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
believes that he or she is "special" and unique.
requires excessive admiration
has a sense of entitlement
is interpersonally exploitative
lacks empathy
is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes " Wiki
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Scott McClellan's book, whether you think it betrayal of his lord and master or a belated emergence of pietas, is a summons to examination of the man in the White House.

Willfully ignorant, unwilling to tolerate dissent in discussion, hungry for adulation, cruel to those who are instinctively seen as competition, jealous of other's accomplishments (the ridicule heaped on David Gregory's pronunciation of French words comes to mind), inability to accept criticism, etc.

Is George W. Bush a classic example of the "Narcissistic Personality Disorder?" There are many such people among us. We all know some. Perhaps we are "some."

I invite your discussion. pl

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder

Taliban Leader Flaunts Power Inside Pakistan - NYTimes.com

Taliban Leader Flaunts Power Inside Pakistan - NYTimes.com:... "Islam"does not recognize boundaries,” he told the journalists, in accounts published in Pakistani newspapers and reported by the BBC. “There can be no deal with the United States."

Mr. Mehsud’s jaunty appearance in his home base, South Waziristan, a particularly unruly region of Pakistan’s tribal areas, underscored the wide latitude Pakistan’s government has granted the militants under a new series of peace deals, and its impact in Afghanistan, where NATO and American commanders say cross-border attacks have surged since talks for those peace deals began in March.

The impunity of Mr. Mehsud’s behavior has outraged the Bush administration, which is pressing the Pakistani government to arrest and prosecute him.

“Bringing Baitullah Mehsud, the head of this extremist group in South Waziristan — capturing him and bringing him to justice, which is what should happen to him,” is what the United States wants from Pakistan, Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte said last month in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But the Pakistani government, which at times has considered Mr. Mehsud an ally and is now fearful of his power, appears reluctant to hunt him down. Days before his news conference, Pakistani forces pulled back from his realm in South Waziristan as part of the peace deals.

American and Pakistani officials accuse Mr. Mehsud of masterminding the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister, in December and sending scores of suicide bombers here and in Afghanistan, while forging a symbiotic relationship with Al Qaeda on Pakistan’s frontier.

Interviews with former military officials and government officials, local residents and a former Taliban member who worked in proximity to Mr. Mehsud’s inner circle portrayed him as a militant leader who is barely educated, attracts more knowledgeable people to his side and is ruthless in his goal of an extreme form of Islamic rule.

He and his main ally, Qari Hussain, whom officials and associates have described as a highly trained and vicious militant, have methodically built up strongholds in North and South Waziristan — killing uncooperative tribal leaders, recruiting unemployed young men to their jihad and filling the vacuum left by a lack of government services. Now, they also have lieutenants and allies across the tribal region.

In South Waziristan, they run training camps for suicide bombers, some of them children, according to the former Taliban member. Their realm is so secure that in April Mr. Mehsud’s umbrella group, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, held a conference of thousands of fighters that culminated in a public execution, according to a local resident.

Local Pakistani authorities say they are helpless to deal with Mr. Mehsud’s group. In a measure of their despair, on Wednesday the authorities in the Mohmand district, where the conference and public execution were held, announced a truce with the Taliban.

Mr. Mehsud was once a minor figure in the small Shabikhel branch of the fierce Mehsud tribe that lives in South Waziristan, whose inhospitable territory remained a sliver of imperial India left unconquered by the British.

But he managed to enhance his stature through the ambivalence — or protection, according to some officials — of the Pakistani authorities, say former Pakistani military officials and tribal leaders. His strength grew quickly after February 2005, when the military, then under the control of President Pervez Musharraf, signed a peace deal with him.

“That was when I knew the army was not serious,” said a tribal leader who has dealt with Mr. Mehsud and would not be named for safety reasons. “If the army took firm action they could crush him in two months.”

Instead, the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence, the overarching Pakistani intelligence agency, wanted to keep Mr. Mehsud “in reserve,” said the tribal leader, who is also a former military officer.

In essence, the Pakistani authorities stuck to a long-standing policy of “strategic depth” in Afghanistan as a bulwark against its enemy India, and Mr. Mehsud was a tool in that game, he said.

A retired brigadier, Mehmood Shah, said the 2005 peace deal amounted to a total “surrender” to Mr. Mehsud, from which he had advanced virtually unhindered. Against his advice, Mr. Shah said, army checkpoints in key areas of Mehsud territory — in particular, the Makin bazaar, a favored Taliban hangout, and the strategic Karama mountain range — were abandoned after the 2005 agreement.

During the January offensive against Mr. Mehsud, he hid among the civilians around the Makin bazaar, using them as shields and making it tricky to capture him, said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the spokesman for the Pakistani Army. ...

[bth: OBL might not matter according to Bush but it is evident that anti-American muslim extremists are building bases in Pakistan and are as strong as ever. While we squander our resources and credibility in Iraq, our real enemies grow stronger.]

Op-Ed Columnist - Cult of Deception - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist - Cult of Deception - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com:... "In"Stockholm, Condi — labeled “sometimes too accommodating” by the author — scoffed: “The president was very clear about the reasons for going to war.”

She’s right. He was very clear about it being because of W.M.D. Then he was very clear about it being to rid the world of a tyrant. Then he was very clear about it being to spread democracy. When that didn’t work out, he was very clear about it being that we can’t leave because we can’t leave.

He was always wrong, but always very clear
.

Op-Ed Columnist - Thomas L. Friedman - It’s All About Leverage - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist - Thomas L. Friedman - It’s All About Leverage - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com:... "As"I have argued before: When you have leverage, talk. When you don’t have leverage, get some. Then talk.

Right now Iran & Friends — Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria — have a strategy that has produced leverage for them, and the next U.S. president is going to have to think afresh how to counter it. The “Iran & Friends” strategy is built on five principles:

Principle No. 1: Always seek “control without responsibility.” In Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq, Iran & Friends have veto power over the politics, without being held fully responsible for the electricity. America’s allies, by contrast, tend to have “responsibility without control.”

Principle No. 2: Always insist on being able to both run for political office and bear arms. In Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq, America’s opponents are both in the government and have their own militias.

Principle No. 3: Use suicide bombing and targeted assassinations against any opponents who get in your way. In Lebanon, Syria is widely suspected to have been behind the spate of killings of anti-Syrian journalists and parliamentarians. One suicide attack on a major official in Iraq can neutralize superior U.S. power.

Principle No. 4: Use the Internet as a free command and control system for raising money, recruiting and operations.

Principle No. 5: Cast yourself as the “resistance” to Israel and America, so any opposition to you is equal to support for Israel and America and so no matter how badly you are defeated the mere fact that you “resisted” means you didn’t really lose.

Do the pro-American Arab moderates have a counterstrategy with leverage? I just got the new book, “The Arab Center,” by Marwan Muasher, the former foreign minister of Jordan. Retired Arab statesmen don’t often write books about their time in office, but Mr. Muasher has, and his argument is a powerful one: Arab moderates have been on the defensive because they have been “one-dimensional moderates,” focused only on moderate proposals for making peace with Israel, while ignoring other issues important to Arab citizens: good governance, political reform, economic well-being, women’s rights and religious and cultural diversity.

“For the Arab moderates to have credibility, they have to assume more responsibility,” says Muasher. America could help by delivering on the Arab moderates’ main issue — a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal. But, ultimately, he said, if the Arab center is to shape the future and rid “itself of the image its opponents paint of an apologist for the West or a compromiser of Arab rights,” it will have to meet the challenge of building “a robust, diverse, tolerant, democratic, and prosperous Arab society.”

There has been some promising moderate push back against extremists in Iraq, Lebanon and the West Bank lately. It’s definitely worth watching, but is still very frail. America’s leverage will be limited as long our key allies do not have a strategy, with weight, to counter the hard-liners. Here’s hoping that once the primary silly season is over, the McCain and Obama camps will stop jousting over whether to talk with our enemies — which we must — and will start focusing instead about how we and our friends get more chips to bargain with — which we lack.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Afghanistan violence rises, weakening Karzai government | csmonitor.com

Afghanistan violence rises, weakening Karzai government | csmonitor.com: "Violence"in Afghanistan is increasing, according to recent announcements by senior US and NATO officials. Analysts estimate that this has been the bloodiest spring since the start of the insurgency and that the increasing instability is fueling the call to deploy more troops to the region.

Across the country this week, violence flared. Suicide bombers attacked international soldiers in Kabul today, reports the Associated Press. ...

[bth: Americans need to be paying attention to what is happening here.]
Informed Comment
Main and Central

Australia's Iraq Combat Operations Have Ended - Politics on The Huffington Post

Australia's Iraq Combat Operations Have Ended - Politics on The Huffington Post: "Australia" staunch U.S. ally and one of the first countries to commit troops to the Iraq war five years ago, ended combat operations there Sunday, a Defense Department official said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was swept into office in November largely on the promise that he would bring home the country's 550 combat troops by the middle of 2008.

Rudd has said the Iraq deployment has made Australia more of a target for terrorism....