Monday, April 24, 2006

Commanders in Chiefs - More or Less

George Washington was made President and additionally, Commander-in-Chief, because he had a victorious military record. The newly formed United States had serious national security problems, so combining responsibilities of military and political chiefs made good bureaucratic sense. Had President Washington been a chiropractor, doubt the founding fathers would have made him Commander in Chief - in my life time, the 20th and 21st centuries, assigning military responsibilities to elected presidents in most cases has not augured that well for the USA.

Franklin D Roosevelt won WWII - despite the fact he almost lost the US Navy at Pearl Harbor - he fired Admiral Kimmel and General Short over the disaster. Now we know that reliable intelligence existed, not disseminated, that indicated the Japanese were about to attack. FDR was itching to go to war with Germany and the Germans obliged immediately after Pearl Harbor by declaring war on the US - previous American aid, bundles for Britain, unrestricted military aid to England in its war with the Nazis, was the causus belli from the German standpoint. Whether the war could have been avoided is a moot point, but the fact FDR's policies allowed the Soviet Union to dominate central Europe and the Balkans remains as a devastating FDR legacy. We know that there were American generals who wanted to keep attacking across the Oder Neisse Line, but the fix was in - FDR had surrendered Central Europe to the USSR at Potsdam and Yalta - Cold War became a dangerous reality for nearly the last half of the 20th century.

President Harry Truman followed. Truman who was a haberdashery salesman turned politician at least heard the rattle of the battle as an artillery captain in WWI, but this experience apparently deserted him in office. Democrats celebrate the fact that he fired General Douglas MacArthur, because the general wanted to win the war in Korea by using nuclear weapons when the US had the monopoly on them. Liberals used pathetically political correct screed that Truman demonstrated civilian control over the military by this action - Truman's foolish decision resulted in a stalemate in Korea to now, where the North Koreans have nuclear weapons. Truman's other decision that has had far reaching consequences was the recognition of Israel. Against the advice of military men like General Marshall, Truman recognized Israel because he needed campaign funds that the American Jewish community would donate to defeat his opponent Governor Dewey. Truman is also reported to have said that since he had a Jewish partner in his haberdashery business who he liked and respected, that he guessed recognition of Israel was okay This is known as making foreign policy by the seat of your pants. This expedient-recognition of Israel has now morphed into total American defense of Israel at a serious cost to US interests in the Middle East, and a major basis of Jihadist terror against the US.

Eisenhower's election saw birth to Fidel Castro's Communist Cuba. Instead of snuffing out Castro's romantic revolution, he listened to the NEW YORK TIMES that promoted Castro as an agrarian reformer - his failure to take decisive military action left it to JFK who later bungled badly. IKE did warn the American people about the threat of a Industrial Military Complex, but nobody paid much attention until now with NO BID Halliburton setting on its chest.

Next president who frittered away his role as Commander and Chief was John F. Kennedy - he was by most standards a military hero - a profile in courage - remember "PT 109"? Russian Premier Khruschev met JFK at a conference in Vienna - came away figuring JFK was ditzy - said JFK was too liberal - put up the Berlin Wall and deployed strategic missiles in Cuba. JFK then agreed to pull US medium range missiles out of Turkey and promised not to invade Cuba again if the Soviets withdrew their missiles. Castro is still around making mischief for the US - JFK 's Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba still goes down as close to the biggest military screw-up in US history - not as bad as Custer at Little big Horn, but it came close.

Both Presidents Johnson and Nixon were strangled by the Vietnam war. In all fairness, they believed the US military knew what it was doing and it did not. War was lost for many reasons - part of it was the incremental introduction of forces - US forces were defeated in detail, no overwhelming force - never had enough force at the critical moment. US also effectively left Cambodia and North Vietnam as safe havens - Nixon, besides Watergate, also had Dr. Henry Kissinger the mad hatter dancing around, and that guy could screw up a free lunch.

President Ford really did not count except that he did appoint Rumsfeld to SECDEF for the first time - that mistake still haunts the US as Rumsfeld is still learning the job.

Along came Jimmy Carter as president. A graduate of US Naval academy - nuclear sub man - but the world used him as a doormat. Iran dumped the Shah ending US influence in the country, and during the Iranian hostage event, Carter made a circus of a rescue attempt. He signaled weakness and the USSR invaded Afghanistan. Also he had serious Central American problems - by all standards, Carter is a better ex president than president; he lasted four years until overwhelmed by Reagan.

Reagan's years were wine and roses - USSR collapsed - got the hostages back from Iran - kept Castro in his box with the invasion of Grenada, and by cleaning up San Salvador and Nicaragua - gave the Soviet fits in Afghanistan that led to their defeat and hastened the USSR's decline.

George Walker Bush, also a military hero, lasted one term before he was kicked out of office by the voters. Decided he would go to war with Saddam over Kuwait. If you follow events, you know the war started after Bush raised taxes violating his pledge of READ MY LIPS NO NEW TAXES - there was really no difference between buying oil from the despotic Kuwaiti sheiks or the malevolent Saddam - the result was the First Iraqi War - Bush also began the involvement of a military expedition in Somali. Based on TV horror depictions - last time I checked, the War lords run the country and the people continue to starve. Bush operations in Iraq were sloppy - though the Iraqi were thrown out of Kuwait in a 100 hour war, he encouraged Shiites in Iraq to revolt, but sent no aid when they were brutally suppressed by Saddam. Bush made a US protectorate of part of the Kurd lands and installed no-fly zones over Iraq without treaty or UN sanction; this was an expensive proposition. It was another factor in the Second Iraqi War

Along came draft dodger Clinton - made Les Aspin, a system analyst peacenick SECDEF whom he had to fire quickly, because of his failure to provide armor to Somali that resulted in BLACK HAWK DOWN catastrophe... Clinton really wanted gays in the military and for awhile did not want the Marines to wear uniforms on the White House detail - gave a burial plot at Arlington Cemetery to a big time campaign contributor who never served in the military - had to dig the guy up at midnight, rebury him elsewhere because the military was so pissed off. His Balkan war made him an Ottoman Turk as he stationed US forces permanently in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia for nation building - he encouraged the Kosovars to remain on Serb land that they illegally occupied through infiltration from Albania. About the only thing he did right in the Balkan War was to bomb the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and he spoiled that by apologizing and paying reparations - even after he left office, his national security chief, Sandy Berger got caught stealing documents from the National Archives Building - stuffed them in his underwear - Sandy was also an advisor to Senator Kerry during the campaign 2004 - as far Clinton chasing Bin Laden, he reminded me of Puerto Rican cops who in police cruisers patrol the dark streets of Old San Juan with blue lights flashing warning the criminals to escape...

But despite the foibles of previous commander-in-chiefs, the advent of GW Bush, sometimes, formerly of the Texas and Alabama Air Force National Guard, makes you want to call a constitutional convention or set in motion an amendment to cleave the power of commander-in-chief from the presidency. As it stands now, the American people want a refund for electing GWB. Bush's elective war in Iraq combined with gross mismanagement of the war by Rumsfeld, has endangered the US. GW Bush was slapped in the head with 9/11 - never got around to closing US borders - he attacked Iraq and effectively stopped chasing super terrorist bin Laden in Afghanistan area - his war fighting was done ostensibly on the cheap to hide real costs from the American people - as a result the national guard will take years to reconstitute, if it ever does... military equipment now has to be replaced on a massive scale - the costs of the war has eroded the dollar, driven up interest rates - future cost of caring for wounded veterans is expected to be over the top. Any checks and balances on presidential excess has not yet materialized in Congress, and the US press has lost its nerve. Recovering from GW Bush's absolutely disastrous rule may take a long time... the longer he remains at the helm, the more difficult it will be. It took oilmen Bush and Cheney to drive the price of gasoline over $3.00 a gallon... and that was a subject in which they professed expertise. How can you trust their judgement in war?

Solutions? Run wars through an ad hoc committee, mission designed, formed only during hostilities. Rely on representation outside the bureaucracy who have full authority to task all government agencies and draft talent for the duration of hostilities. Had a task force organization been formed for homeland security, the country would not have wasted money on a fat bureaucracy and still remained undefended - there is always a General George Marshall in the US system - you just need a President smart enough to find him... Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Monday, April 17, 2006

Lions Led by Donkeys

Have you noticed that as the polls have shifted against the Iraq war growing elements of political and military leadership, now embolded, have come out increasingly against the war? Senators Kerry and Edwards have confessed it was a mistake to vote for the war. Several retired general officers recently have seen the light as well. Even severely compromised General Colin Powell is rushing to get on the right side of history.

Excuses for a change of heart range from being misled, to dreadful mismanagement of war, and loss of ideological commitment; in the case of military leadership, predictably, I WAS JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS. There is always an overriding compulsion to follow blindly any orders, even when the generals know they are wrong. High ranking Nazis were hanged for following orders. This code of conduct was established at Nuremburg Trials by the US WWII occupation authorities. So saluting and saying "yes sir" and marching into the abyss to execute flawed orders is not acceptable, either morally or statutory.

Civilian politicians by nature obey orders of contributors or, in rare moments, of their constituency. All the reform measures to repair their opportunism, unethical conduct, and mendacity are hopeless unless they egregiously break the law and find themselves in the cross hairs of a prosecutor. Also, from time to time, some are thrown out of office by the outraged voters. The military leadership is different. It is paid to win wars not elections.

Conflict arises, because at the highest level of government, the military constitutionally takes orders from civilians, who just want to keep their jobs or pursue national security goals, sometimes not in the US interests... Today, the Pentagon's, infiltrated by neocons, pursuit of the war in Iraq is an example that is ripping the country apart - you did not have to be Karl von Clausewitz to conclude the war plans to invade, occupy, and (later) build democracy in Iraq were painfully flawed and the mission seriously muddled.

Usually the general officers are brave men. Chests full of medals in most cases evince that one time in their career they were courageous men and took risks with their life as part of duty. As far as dutifully following orders in combat, many will confess privately, when letting their hair down, that stupid orders in the field were disobeyed - execution was delayed - SORRY YOU'RE BREAKING UP... RETRANSMIT... These are discretionary calls, certainly not encouraged in doctrine and in the training manuals, but do save lives and almost never result in a battle being lost So why do generals' knees buckle so alarmingly quick, and their integrity fade, when faced with stupid orders by civilians?

My first encounter with taking orders from a Defense Department politically appointed civilian, came when I was assigned on the staff of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Asked my civilian boss for guidance to reply a bone fide requirement from another defense office - he replied, FORGET IT. WE NEVER RESPOND UNLESS WE ARE ASKED THREE TIMES - he was right. Did not respond and the tasking died. The Office of the Secretary of Defense is populated and controlled by political appointees and their stooges - they are there because of party affiliations. There is one immutable rule in both parties that supersedes all others there that is: PROTECT THE PRESIDENT. If you remember this, you will understand why SECDEF Rumsfeld stays on despite incompetence and heavy criticism. Also it will explain why his press conferences go off the mark, and seem to address the wrong issues. When he departs, all the snakes will crawl out of the basket that he is sitting on and scandals will follow...

Last chapter on the battle of/for Iraq is yet to be written. At this time, it looks like it will go the way of Vietnam and Korea - both lost wars despite overwhelming military power. Generals followed civilian orders and failed to achieve victory... Something is systematically wrong - thousands of men died bravely. They did what was ordered; it was that the executed orders were corrupt as they led to failure..

This strategic and tactical stupidity is nothing new in history - remember Marshal Neys' charge at Waterloo or the charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean war or the horrible daily slaughter at Gallipoli or the pervasive trench war carnage at Verdun or the 500,000 Germans lost at Stalingrad under Field Marshal Paulus - in every instance, had a commanding General refused orders- told his leadership, THIS IS BULLSHIT and walked off the field - he probably would have been shot by a firing squad or sent to pick coconuts on Devils Island, but he might have saved others as he went down in history as the last just man...

Do not expect such romantic nobility from the American general officer corps - once these people have stars pinned on their shoulders, they seem to loose their moral compass - projection of career seems to overtake them - must have another star - it also may be a product of the selection process - independent thinkers are simply weeded out - skilled, obedient technocrats need only to apply. Might try selecting officers for generals who are over the top on efficiency, but flat on the bottom in tact. Who knows, they might win wars - might even turn up another Patton...

Seymour Hersh recently wrote in the NEW YORKER that the US has plans on the table to attack Iran with tactical nuclear weapons - there is no doubt his report is true - military planning is a dynamic process and plans are made for every contingency. The question is are the generals opportunistic, and dumb enough to execute them as they did in Iraq? We know Bush and Cheney are capable and desperate enough to order these plans into action.

All these civilians and retired military leaders are jumping off the Iraq war wagon for whatever motive - will these same people now stand against the Iranian war when it counts? Doubt it . These are the pitifully, expedient donkeys without core values who set in motion our brave lion fighting forces..... it is no accident the younger military officers are fleeing under such twisted leadership.

Need spine. Had the current crop of general officers vigorously challenged the snake neocons in the Pentagon and put their careers on the line, doubt whether they would be up to their eyeballs in defeat and despair in Iraq..... Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Monday, April 10, 2006

Senator John Kerry - Iraq
Too Little - Too Late

New York Times, April 5, 2006 in an OP ED, Senator John F. Kerry published his latest manifesto on Iraq. In it he demonstrated that he is almost as unqualified to be President as GW Bush.

Let's start with the last sentence of his article "We can put the American leadership on the side of our soldiers and push the Iraqi leadership to do what only it can do: build a democracy." After three years of bloody sectarian violence and maneuvering, Kerry still believes democracy can be planted at the end of a bayonet - he is as foolish as GW Bush - though I believe GWB is going wobbly on this concept as the body bags return and the budget for the war is busted. Our President may have to have his resolve stiffened by sitting on the knee of his favorite neocon Israeli philosopher, Anton Scharansky. Who can forget Bush and Condoleezza shamelessly peddling Scharansky's book, holding it up like Chairman Mao's little red book? Despite Scharansky's brainless, utopian theories, not one American should die for another nation's democracy; Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush do not seem to understand this. But a majority of Americans do, and now recoil at their leadership

Senator Kerry correctly concluded that the Iraqis have responded to deadlines such as, elections and turning over the provisional government. Now he has proposed that the US withdraw by 15 May if the Iraqis do not set up a functioning government. Like Bush, he tries to make the American public believe that process is progress - if you go through the process of filling the bucket and the water leaks out, all you have is an empty bucket - as of this writing, there is still no central Iraqi government. If it does finally form, you can bet the power will reside outside of it, with the militias and tribes. Failure to break the back of the militias was one of the thousand errors Condoleezza claims the US made in Iraq - My dear Condoleezza, international affairs and war are not parlor games you get to play over again

Last week SecState Rice with British counterpart Mr. Straw sat in a windowless room on cheap furniture in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone and hectored the Iraqis on forming a government - the Iraqis must have thought, IF WE FAIL, ARE YOU GOING TO INVADE US? It was almost as bad. Rice and Straw threatened to withdraw coalition troops if there is no central government soon. Some threat - the Iraqi leadership must have done cartwheels of joy and high fives after the dynamic duo departed.

Mr. Kerry supports a Dayton like peace accord as happened in Yugoslavia for Iraq. Call in all regional leaders and forcefully hammer out agreement. First, there is big difference between Iraq and Yugoslavia... For starters there was no over heated Israel/American link in the equation. There was no fanatical extra national, al Qaeda or Jihadists to bedevil the area . After the numbers of Arabs killed in the Iraq war, the US bona fides as an arbiter are tarnished. No decent Arab will forgive Fallujah or Abu Gharib. A Dayton accord at best is an interim agreement - knives are now being sharpened in Bosnia and Kosovo - the death of Milosevic in the Netherlands made a lot Serbs rethink their cooperation with NATO, of turning him over to an international tribunal - bombed bridges on the Danube have been rebuilt - and the Serb martial tribal juices are beginning to flow again - Mr. Kerry would do well to dump Mr. Holbrook as a national security advisor - he is old news and bad news. Clinton's Ambassador Holbrook's role in turning part of the Balkans over to Muslims was short sighted. By forcing the Serbs to accept Illegal Albanian immigration in Kosovo, the US now must confront the Mexican invasion of the US by the same standards or appear hypocritical.

Part of Kerry's proposal is to set a deadline for American troop withdrawal - but if the Iraqis set up a functioning government, Kerry promises to set new deadline..... but he would keep a US garrison in Iraq to train Iraqi forces..... but he would keep troops there for security back up.... but he would keep troops there to fight al Qaeda and foreign terrorists..... All this is very absurd - and pure Kerry..... he is still a flip flopper..... he learned nothing in the 2004 election that he lost. Like voting for the war, but voting against the appropriations. He now votes for troop withdrawal, but wants to keep the troops there - the guy is a real piece of work, always tied up in internal contradictions.

Ironically, Mr. Kerry notes in the article the stupidity and immorality of US military forces dying in Vietnam after the war was lost - US military leadership has stated categorically that the war in Iraq cannot be won militarily. There is nothing on the scene there that causes optimism that there will be political settlement until one faction takes all, so why does the US continue and bleed? Roll McNamara's DVD, FOG OF WAR, if you doubt my conclusions.

Mr. Kerry should have been a magician rather than a politician. He tries to fool the American people with slight of hand - it really does not work except for the people of Massachusetts..... and that, is another story. On the other hand, we have GW Bush who is driven by IN GOD WE TRUST- another form of magic, equally stupefying - appears now that GWB should change his God, for this one has failed and abandoned him - the Harpies may snatch him. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Monday, April 03, 2006

Alamo II

Montezuma's revenge in the old days was a discomfort that plagued tourists in Mexico who ate too much spicy food or drank unbottled water. Times have changed. The Aztec chieftain's revenge has expanded into the reconquest of Old Mexico that includes a large chunk of California and US states along the Rio Grande River..

Pathetically, no US government official seems to know how many illegal aliens have streamed across the US Southern borders. Estimates of this invasion range from 12 million to 20 million. You hear that the illegal aliens keep coming at 3000 per day - Ronald Reagan's amnesty programs in the 1986 significantly increased the flow of Illegals. Now GW Bush's proposed amnesty serves as another smoke signal to encourage the Aztecs to keep coming and they will...

We know that 30% of criminals incarcerated in the US are illegal Latinos - that 50 percent drop out of public schools - that US taxpayer funded welfare services, schools and medical facilities are overburdened by their presence. There are estimates that this illegal flow costs the US 65 billion a year. Now Americans must face the facts that these non Americans have succeeded in organizing nation wide demonstrations in several US cities to protest enforcement and passing of laws to stop their illegal advances.

When Chief of Police Bratton in LA was asked why he did not curb the 40,000 Latino student truancy during the demonstrations that blocked some freeways, he was speechless. The LA major who is of Mexican descent effectively condoned the demonstrations that reached up to an estimated 500,000 people. This first nationwide flexing of Illegal alien political muscle was just a tune up for bigger things to come. Though some were singing WE SHALL OVERCOME, this coordinated, multi city show of force made the black Million Man March or Martin Luther King's demonstrations appear as church picnics.

As the illegal aliens took to streets, the US Senate Judicial Committee reported out a bill that encouraged more illegal immigration - more amnesty, no border enforcement and no employee penalties for hiring. The coincidence of the nationwide demonstrations made the Senate Committee appear to buckle to pressure from the demonstrators. Fortunately, this bill has a long way to go to become law. It has the whole Senate to pass, and runs up against a no-nonsense House bill that has teeth against the illegal aliens. Main exponents of the bill in the Senate were Senators McCain and Kennedy, our rich man who loves the poor. As far as McCain, this should cook his goose with the rank file Republicans in his run for the Republican presidential nomination. It will, however, fill his campaign coffers from corporations who want cheap stoop labor to continue at whatever political cost.

It is not just big business who want the flow of illegal immigrants to continue uninterrupted. There is the Catholic Church who plays the good Samaritan card, helping people in need. At least the church diocese in Southern California is willing to break Caesar's law to administer Gods law. The competition for souls is serious business, and the protestant missionaries have been making significant inroads into the Catholic Hispanic flocks. So the Catholic clergy tries to upstage them by going political. It happens frequently in Latin America where the Protestant groups genuinely appear to work closer to the needs of the people than the Catholic clergy.

US trade unions, crushed by globalization and outsourcing, are desperately trying to replenish their ranks with new members from the millions of illegal workers to be organized.

The Democrats figure that the Latinos are working class people and will vote for their agenda. The Democrats miscalculated on the Cubans who turned mostly Republican and, therefore, are not going to let it happen again. They are prepared to curry favor by supporting illegal immigration through amnesty. Watch Hillary Clinton as she panders to the illegal immigrants

Though the Republican party is one of big business, the party is split on the issue - little guys vs. the big guys - money vs. the voters - at least the Republican congressional representatives have not sold out like many of the Republican Senators.

There is case to be made for more workers needed on farms, construction, and hospitality industries. Just issue more visas - look the applicant over, filter out the bums and those with contagious diseases - even heard a bleeding heart extol the virtues of illegal nannies - "IF WE TRUST THEM WITH OUR CHILDREN, WHY NOT TRUST THEM TO STAY IN THE US? Lady, be certain you get a health certificate before you entrust your children to their care - lots of TB, hepatitis, and other diseases are brought across the border.

The fact is that unless you have enforced laws, you will soon have in America, massive corruption and anarchy found in Mexico and some other Latin countries - economic opportunities are limited in these societies - so people flee, but they bring the same chaos with them if unregulated - they consistently violate housing codes and zoning ordinances - half of them refuse to be educated - a high proportion end up in jail- very few have any loyalty to America and remain content speaking Spanish only - very little assimilation by the Illegals as opposed to legal immigrants who make an effort to be part of America - Western Union even has a special money telegram formatted to send only to Mexico, so most of their money is spent in Mexico - revenues from illegals is higher than oil revenues for the Mexican government and the main source of income for the country.

GW Bush is hopelessly splattering US money and men against the wall in Iraq. At the same time he cannot protect US borders from large scale foreign penetration - what a guy - what priorities! There may be doctors without borders, but countries do not survive without them and loose their identity.

Recent demonstrations by illegals was an amazing feat of organization - the illegals fearlessly responded to the call of Latino media hosts to take to the streets - impact appeared significant as politicians scrambled to reward their illegal conduct - to protect them from the law and expulsion. Expect more demonstrations until they turn violent, into an internal security problem and municipalities and states will be forced to move against them. April 10 is the big next call to the streets.

Watching the squirming politicians, desperately jumping to please the law breakers, my sense is that the illegal alien situation has been allowed to fester too long. The non citizens are now reaching for political power - old Montezuma has already almost substituted the eagle and the snake for the Golden Bear. The war has started - it is just that the gringo politicians do not get it. Seventy per cent of the American people do. REMEMBER THE ALAMO. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret