Thursday, March 29, 2007

Retreating Forward – The US in Iraq

Insidious Richard Perle, who with his neocon buddies, Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz, choreographed the deception for invasion of Iraq for vacuous GW Bush, has told us smugly THERE IS NO TURNING BACK. As the war is playing out in Iraq, he unfortunately may be right.

Speaker Pelosi's recent bill might signal the beginning of the end of four years of hopeless tactics that involved soldiers breaking down doors, riding to death in Humvees and being picked off on foot patrols; but, it does not end the self defeating drive for permanent US bases in Iraq by certain interest groups. That is another battle she is yet to confront. Even her stalwart supporter Representative Murtha who pushes for an ambiguous redeployment option, has an open ended policy. At this time he has not told us redeployed to where... or why he specifically wants US troops in the region. Wish he would, because that would at least define our interests in the area. Two perceived interests that pop into my mind are oil and Israel, neither of which is worth one drop of American blood. At 62USD a barrel, you can buy oil anywhere and as much as you want. As far as Israel, if with its nuc bomb and all the American military and economic aid it receives, it cannot fend for itself, it does not deserve to be independent. The talk about having Iraqis standing on their own is similarly long over due for the Israelis. According to a recent world wide poll, the US follows Israel as the most contemptible nation. US support of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Lebanon has cost the US more than Condoleezza is willing to admit openly – it was a pure disaster. US cluster bombs and all that US hot air at the UN in support of Israel seriously damaged US stature. Israeli POWs still remain in captivity which was the pretext for the bombing; a bombing that also failed to silence the Hetzbollah rockets flying into Israel.

Examination of the 14 Democrats who voted against Pelosi's bill is revealing. Not one appears to be under the control of the Israel lobby. Can it, therefore, be assumed that the Lobby green lighted the bill to pass? If so, why? The Israeli Lobby with Senator Lieberman as its standard bearer clearly wants the war to continue. Perle's THERE IS NO TURNING BACK might mean a plan to keep US troops stationed there indefinitely, and that is certainly an Israel fallback position. We know Pelosi rushed back from a recent AIPAC convention and used her office to torpedo Senator Webb's no invasion of Iran rider on the war appropriation Senate bill. Was there a trade off to kill the Iran no invasion for the Lobby's support of the Pelosi war appropriation bill, which may or may not go anywhere? My sense is yes. Pelosi was desperate for victory – fleeting as it may turn out to be. With the Senate approval of the war appropriation bill, she apparently used tactics that brought near term success. The ball is in Bush's court; to veto or not to veto the bill.

Republicans in the Senate had enough votes to filibuster the bill but did not. This means Bush was intentionally made to carry the ball with the veto – money for wars is needed in May, so Bush has to move quickly to avoid being end played and losing timely appropriations. Republicans are trying to shift the guilt of losing the war to the Democrats, but the guilt remains with the dopes that started the misadventure. And that is mainly Bush and his Republican crazies. What is going on as far as a possible war with Iran? Democrats better keep their eye on that one; there are two aircraft carriers confined in the Persian Gulf with limited maneuverability which makes them sitting ducks. Are the Navy planners as dumb as the Army planners?

Except for a Congressman like Kucinich who refused on principle to vote money to extend the war, others, both Democrats and Republicans, wanted mindlessly to support the Commander and Chief President, who like his military commanders, has not got one thing right on the invasion of Iraq since he started the bloody fiasco. There are some who want to hang in until victory is achieved in the civil war. Does that mean we kill Sunnis or Shiites? Less obvious reasons may be that certain congressmen did not get their pound of pork hooked to the bill; or, some defense contracts linked to the Iraq war spending in their districts have to be protected; or, the vote is compensation for campaign contributions spread by those companies that have over 70,000 contract employees in Iraq. Recently, the Office of the Budget inspector general declared after his most recent of 15 trips to Iraq, that corruption is the second greatest threat to stability in Iraq after the insurgency. War profiteering and military weapons production are the big time predatory capitalism old IKE warned us about in his farewell presidential address.

The US has built 14 fortified bases in Iraq – most with amenities and airfields. Some of these, along with the intended largest US embassy in the world in Baghdad, would serve as the nucleus of the new US Middle Eastern Empire – that would be of course, over the dead bodies of most Iraqi and Jihadists. It is as if 9/11 never happened. This is an attack based on US occupation of Islamic lands. Despite having the knowledge learned by the French and English, an Empire based on extraction of national resources at bayonet point is just not cost effective. Halliburton, bloated by war profiteering, is getting ahead of the game and setting up its headquarters in Dubai to be nearer the action and further away from US corporate regulations. If this plan of permanent US bases proceeds, expect endless terror against the US; it will provide more fuel to recruit suicide bombers. The Jihadists have established a permanent terrorist platzdarm under GW Bush's nose in Pakistan already so they do not need one in Iraq. If the US pulls out of Iraq, the shelf life of al-Qaeda would be short, as it represents a small part of the insurgency and the Iraqis want their country back.

Along with the plans for permanent bases in Iraq, another fine example of Bush's retreating forward is his surge policy of sending more US troops to Iraq. As long as Bush concentrates on killing Sunnis, the Shiites will try to behave; fewer drilled Sunni bodies are showing up at the Baghdad morgues, but Shiites are dying like flies inside and outside Baghdad, so this improved status may soon evaporate. Meanwhile the US is losing 2-3 men a day to insurgent attacks – there are more than a 100 attacks on US forces a day. Not even the most warped neocon is talking about US dying for democracy in Iraq anymore; the fact that the Sunni deputy Premier was almost killed a few days ago is sobering. Secretary General of the UN was greeted with a volley of insurgent rockets while he visited the Green Zone.

There is no question it is in the US interest to get out of Iraq soonest. Permanent US bases means the US remains and continues to destabilize the region. Ironically, in the end, the invasion has caused more misery and chaos than under Saddam and much less security with Iraq refugees streaming out at about 500 a day; over 2 million have left since the invasion. They are becoming a major burden all over the region. Those Iraqi elements that played ball with the US are marked for death and are pleading to get out. Unlike the gang the US left behind in Vietnam that spent a year in re-indoctrination camps, the stay behinds in Iraq will be dispatched to Allah quickly and brutally. Richard Perle told us that a large boulevard in Baghdad will be named after GW Bush by a grateful Iraqi people... yah wanna to bet? Let us hope Perle is wrong as usual on THERE IS NO TURNING BACK. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET
Photograph: Etching Tu que no puedes by Francisco de Goya

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Angling for Votes for US President – March 2007

Despite the rockets red glare and the bombs bursting air, the flag still flies. Given the grave situation in the USA developed under feeble GW Bush, you wonder whether any leadership exists on either side of the political aisle at this stage. Is there someone who can rescue the nation and capture the presidency to stop the slide? Even Donald Trump who except for Rosie O'Donnell, always loves everyone with embarrassing gush, declared on TV that GW Bush is the worst president in US history. As far as the secretary of state Condoleezza, Trump, the great deal maker, believed the poor thing simply cannot make a deal – she just waves from aircraft and poses for photographs from 45 degree angles. So let us examine the current hats in the presidential ring.

Consider HILLARY CLINTON, a.k.a. Bill Clinton's sometimes spouse. I asked a business connection in Iowa about a month ago when Senator Clinton was in his state on one of her listening tours, whether he was going to vote for her He replied: HELL NO, I GOT ONE AT HOME. DO NOT WANT ONE FOR PRESIDENT. My own take on Bill's wife is that she must return the souvenirs she took from the White House on departure and promise not to let her brothers sell pardons – that demand has to be met before she can be taken seriously. Her constituency is mainly unmarried 35 year old females with masters degrees and the rich Israel Lobby, who counts on her promise to keep US troops in Iraq permanently. Bill's connections with the black community are being frayed by Obama and each day appear to be less transferrable. Convicted felon Al Sharpton, who adores her, is having his influence eroded by Obama. And Jesse Jackson stands only for Jesse. Drug dealers and money launderers want her in charge because they want to let the good times roll as it was under Bill. Those new restrictions on movement of cash are making their lives more complicated, and since Bill pardons fleeing felons, the underworld wants him back desperately. The fact that Bill would be officially on the roam at the national level would be enough to make American mothers hide their daughters. As far as Senator's Clinton’s brains, she is certainly intelligent, but her character is elusive and comes across as contrived – about the only certainty in her presidency is Bill. And, many Americans are up to their ears with his verbal toe dancing and degrading dalliances. Hillary is at best, Bill's stalking horse. Still would like to know what Bill has to say about his former NSC Chief, Sandy Berger Burglar Bungler caught stealing documents after Bill left office from the National Achieves and stuffing the into his underwear.

OBAMA, with credentials from Harvard Law School and probably an IQ off the charts, was like a meteorite from space colliding with Hillary's presidential band wagon. Obama, attractive intellectually and physically, is the new press darling and has replaced fading Senator McCain as the shinning star of truth. Well, we know Senator Obama can talk the talk but can he walk the walk? He had enough sagacity to understand the invasion of Iraq was a stupid blunder before it happened and his record is clear on that. He was elected to the US Senate on a fluke in Illinois when the Republican candidate imploded at the last minute in a sex scandal. He beat Alan Keyes who had to be imported to Illinois because qualified Republicans refused to run on short notice. About the only thing I recollect that Keyes had ever won recently was a debate against Harvard Alan Dershowitz years ago at a small Pennsylvania college where the subject was who was the bigger victim of society, the blacks or the Jews. Obama must have startled the audience at an AIPAC convention recently when he intelligently proposed that the US should give aid directly to the Palestinians; he will lose some donations over that remark. As far as his presidential chances – like a snowball’s chance in hell – he has to accumulate gravitas by running a successful campaign against a serious contender and demonstrate a talent in the Senate for making laws that serve the common good rather than just a minority. Otherwise, he is another pretty face that will fade.

As for Senator Edwards – and let me state that on principle I am aggravated by lawyers in general, particularly divorce lawyers and personal claims attorneys – there is nothing logical, just visceral. Edwards came from the later group. He is handsome in almost a pretty way and has a genteel Southern manner about him; much the same tone as Jimmy Carter's. Like Carter he tends to be a one-man show who, despite staff advice, figures things out for himself and I believe, has the same fire in his belly. His integrity seems intact and he has been exposed to big time fire as Kerry's VEEP running mate. He has faced serious personal tragedy with fortitude, and is pro labor in an outspoken way, which may be good thing at this time since the corporations have strangled the country and wrecked the middle class with unfettered globalization under Bush. We know in court Edwards can go for the jugular vein, but he has yet to demonstrate this necessary attribute in the campaign. For example: Will he savage Hillary on her pro war stance? Of the three leaders in the Democratic party's primary, he has the best chance of doing the right thing. Unlike Hillary, he had the integrity to admit he voted the wrong way on the Iraq war.

RUDY GIULIANI is a Democrat's Republican. He even supported Democratic Governor Cuomo against Republican Pataki in New York years ago. His views on social issues such as gays, guns, and stem cell research are out of the Democratic agenda. His three wives drive the Republican Holy Rollers crazy, and his confrontational style makes southern flesh creep as they prefer to solve issues by oozing around them. My take on Rudy is that he is a street fighter. His career chasing the Mafia and the bums of NYC was with mano dura. He breaks china in the process, but so what? He has the leadership mojo, but he also has baggage indicating flawed judgement. Three wives indicates he does not understand the weaker sex, but at least he married them; uncertain whether he can take holy communion by Vatican laws, but the man can make choices. His nomination for chief of Home Land Security of his former sleaze ball NYC Police Chief Bernie Kerik with whom he had business ties, was a big league screw up – last time I checked Kerik was convicted of a misdemeanor and is now under indictment by the federales. Rudy's dopy decision to ensconce his citiy’s emergency response in the Twin Towers area which had been a target once, was not smart and crippled his 9/11 responses. As far as his furor with the NYC Fire Department’s collection of remains, I agreed with Rudy – the fireman's ceremonial effort delayed the stinking and unhealthy clean up of the site. Rudy bit the bullet and still is taking hits over it. You gotta figure if Rudy is president, he will make the right decisions about 75% of the time – the other 25% may be wrong and damaging, but compared GW Bush, where the man is nearly always wrong and damaging to the country, he would be an improvement. American comedian Chris Rock said it best when he characterized Rudy to be like a pit bull: when you are in trouble, you need him on your side, but when you are not in trouble, he is still a pitbull.....

SENATOR JOHN McCAIN... I do not like McCain. Made it clear why on September 17, 2006 in a previous article found in the archives of this blog titled: The Gruesome Twosome: Senators McCain and Lieberman. McCain's war stance is madness. He fought in the Vietnam War at 35,000 feet and then from a POW camp for over 5 years, where he was beaten daily, and kept in solitary confinement. To call him a Hero is okay, but pass him up as a strategist who knows what he is doing; as a matter of fact the guy is always singing off key on issues. That he is sinking in the polls is a sign there are still some Republicans that remain with good sense. He used the word tar baby on his recent Straight Talking bus tour-- but quickly apologized for it. Why? Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby is a fine children's story with a moral. John is a strange, rare example of a politically correct maverick! Maybe GW Bush should have read the story before he invaded Iraq.

GOVERNOR ROMNEY... For the Republicans to nominate anyone from left wing Massachusetts is highly improbable. As far as his Mormon faith, that is bum rap. No one seemed to be concerned with Lieberman as Jew with his forged, uncritical ties to Israel as a VEEP candidate, so what is the big deal over Mormonism? He has as much chance at the presidency as OBAMA, which is none. Too bad. He is attractive, qualified and talented, but from a Republican standpoint, he wears the Scarlet M. His reinvention of himself as a conservative is preposterous. Maybe he should run on the Democratic ticket as a moderate. Like McCain, he also apologized for using Tar Baby, but in this case he was describing the scandalous Boston Dig – makes you want sob over the idiocy.

There are other hats floating in the ring but as of March 2007, they are too insignificant for any focus of attention. There is plenty of time, however, for them to become significant. For the Republicans are Governor Hukabee, Senator Brownback, (maybe) Senator Hegal and an actor turned Senator turned actor, Fred Thompson. In the Democratic party second tier is the reluctant master of the universe Al Gore, along with Senators Biden and Dowd, Rep Kucinick, Governor Richardson and possibly the talk show darling, slick Al Sharpton. There are others who may want the job from both parties, but they are yet to appear.

GW Bush has developed: A Justice Department that does not dispense justice and violates the constitution; A Department of Defense that cannot win wars; A State Department unable to negotiate with foreign governments; A Home Land Defense Department that cannot control the US borders; A Commerce, Treasury and Trade Department that cannot sign trade deals without damaging US domestic industries; and A Federal Reserve Chairman who can just bite his nails as the dollar sinks. It took 12 years of rule by Bushes and 8 years of Clinton to reach this sad state of affairs in the US. The incompetent GW Bush and his band of discredited neocons just delivered the coups de gras to a sick body politic rather than preserve it. Doubt anybody mentioned in this article can come to the rescue of our great country. As a matter of fact, doubt whether a composite of the group would be successful. The only thing I am certain of is that America should never be ruled again by the creepy Houses of Bush and Clinton. Colonel R E Bartos USA RET

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Recent Tail Spins and Crashes in the Realm of GW Bush

Lewis Scooter Libby, Chief of Staff of VP Cheney and Neocon High Priest was convicted; branded a liar in US federal court by a jury of his peers. Cheney with a band of right wing nuts has gone into frantic mourning expressed by rage, gnashing teeth in conservative talk shows, and editorials in the NATIONAL REVIEW and WALL STREET JOURNAL. Though there is some satisfaction that the VEEP's role in suppressing intelligence by ad hominem attacks on Ambassador Wilson and former CIA operative Valerie Plame is illuminated, my attention is drawn mainly to the punishment of a high ranking Neocon – an Alpha male in a pack of the dogs of war that have brought grief and disaster to America.

Like his bosom buddy Neocon Elliot Abrams who was pardoned for his role during Iran Contra, now deputy NSC under GW Bush, he too will be pardoned or if not, he will squeal like a stuck pig. Libby is not Liddy under Nixon who in an almost sadomasochistic way seemed to enjoy pain – Scooter does not possess the character to throw his body on grenades – he will sit on the links to Cheney and CIA, to protect him as long as he figures a pardon is in the works. Why do you think big time Republicans are paying his legal fees? They keep him reassured. It also explains the mawkish defense by Cheney and his right wing pals over his conviction. Not a good thing for the Republicans – the harpoon is in and now you relentlessly run down the prey – and Valerie Plame is soon to be a witness in Rep Waxman's oversight committee. And then, those troublesome civil suits may pop. Joe Wilson is not a shrinking violet as Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby have learned to their chagrin. The more strident the defense of Scooter's conviction and the more attention it is given, the deeper the hole the Republicans dig for themselves as this highlights more Republican corruption.

A woman scorned? Several days ago Nancy Pelosi tried to complain to President Bush over Cheney's charge that she was unpatriotic for trying to end the Iraq war. She was unable to talk to Bush, only his chief of staff. This week with vengeance, she rolled out a plan that linked the war to the budget authorization that will make the White House squirm. The thrust of the bill was that approval of Bush’s war budget was contingent on bench marks for Iraqis and complete withdrawal in 2008. If Bush vetoes the bill, he kills the budget. With polls running about two thirds against the war, some Democrats are bravely prepared for the old cut and run arguments. Dragging out Generals on cue who want more troops does not appear to impress anyone except the war-hawk Republicans and the Israeli lobby – Generals always need more troops, especially if they are losing a war. Pelosi has problems with Blue Dog moderate Democrats, who find glory in standing and dying; and of course the Israeli Lobby that likes the idea of the US dying to solve its security problems. Noticed that Pelosi was booed during her speech before The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Wednesday when she mentioned Bush’s failures in Iraq. Focus on pro Israeli Reps Rahm Immanuel and Lantos as they bob and weave on this bill.

The Shiites, though still murdered in large numbers in Sadr City, are behaving themselves right now; they have gone to ground rather than fight, but they are waiting for Bush who will get giddy with imagined success to strike. Meanwhile, we watch propaganda films of our troops passing out soccer balls to Iraqi children, as if this is compensation for killing their relatives and destroying their homes. If I see another film with General Petraeus surrounded by smiling Iraqi children, I am going to gag. General, next time you do a publicity shot with children, at least take off your helmet, shed your body armor and hide your side arm.

"Gringo Go Home" was the greeting for Bush as he visited Latin America this week. Venezuelan Chavez in a red shirt, along with banners and Marxist anti American slogans straight from Castro's playbook, orchestrated demonstrations against the Bush visit in many South and Central American cities – Chavez treated Bush like a terrier with a rag doll, to be chewed on and tossed in the air at will to the delight of most Latinos. Poor Bush has a machine in Washington that can attack his fellow Americans Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, but cannot get it together to give Chavez a strong verbal kick in the ass. Macho Latinos would understand that; while they scoff at Condoleezza's State Department's limp-wristed, soft soap approach to turn the other cheek. Chavez is not going away unless he is shoved; he just nationalized 60% of the ownership in Venezuelan private oil companies right under Bush's nose while the President is desperately fighting for oil in far, far away Iraq.

Apart from the embarrassing justice for Scooter, Bush had other public relations bomblets explode last week. The FBI admitted that it abused his Patriot Act. Then Code Red, a military scandal involving failure to administer properly to wounded servicemen during out patient care, sounded at the Walter Reed Hospital. Bush appointed two over-the-hill politicians, Bob Dole and Donna Shalala, to investigate the whole military hospital system – last time I heard, Dole was peddling Viagra on TV and Shalala had problems running a third-rate University in Florida, so keep your expectations low. There is also an issue brewing over the mass firing of eight US attorneys by the Bush administration.

Have written previously that Bush is like some wines that travel badly – have to revise that after observing him on stage in St. Petersburg, Russia and now in Latin America. Bush with his 30% national approval rate is just sour wine even in his own country as well, travel or no travel.

Latin America is always a basket case. It has tried militarism, cronyism socialism, fascism and communism. About the only thing it has not tried is Zionism. Bush's focus on Iraq with all its bloody images has lit a fast burning fuse with the ever present leftist elements. Worse than usual now, is Chavez and Chinese bank rolling. Chavez makes his money on 60 dollar a barrel oil driven to highs by Bush's dumb invasion of Iraq and careless US trade agreements with the Chinese that result in billions of dollars of trade surplus to their favor.

Bush's herky jerky speaking style, filled with malapropisms sells among his adoring evangelical masses in the US, but falls flat in other places. To appeal to the Latinos, he needs flash, emotion, and an erudite style, but most of all, slick-backed hair and a snappy suit with double vents in back... Our President fails this test on all counts. ¡ARRIBA ARRIBA! Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Afghanistan; The Hindu Kush in the Springtime

Afghanistan intruded seriously into the cross hairs of American policy for the first time under President Jimmy Carter when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The Carter Administration was surprised and unprepared, for the event was contrary to Jimmy's national intelligence estimate. The Director of Central Intelligence at the time was a pompous naval officer, Admiral Stansfield Turner, whose later claim to fame is that he crippled US human intelligence collection capabilities. As far as his understanding of capabilities and limitations of the Soviet Union's ground forces, for him it narrowly amounted to, "if it was not a submarine or did not float, it was not threat"... The other thing that bureaucratically motivated Turner was the political maxim, "if you do not have a solution, do not present the problem". Except for the Army, all other 15 intelligence organizations predicted that the Soviets would not invade Afghanistan. Wrong... In the US intelligence Community, the majority is seldom right. Remember the WMDs in Iraq and other propaganda the Bush administration wanted to use. Even its latest National Estimate on Iraq is a masterpiece of ambiguity. Carter responded to the invasion lamely by withdrawing the US olympic team from the games in Moscow and curtailing grain deliveries to the Soviet Union.

Ironic point in history was that the same wrong headed, blind arguments made by US intelligence against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 persisted roughly 10 years later by refusing to predict the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, namely, THE SOVIETS WOULD NOT INVADE BECAUSE IT WOULD JEOPARDIZE THE STRATEGIC LIMITATION TALKS. Well, we know now that SALT proceeded despite Soviet invasions of both countries. Contrary to the views of the US Intelligence estimates, the USSR could chew gum and invade at the same time.

The Soviets had prepared carefully for the invasion for at least nine months. Russian agents with an Afghan Communist regime were embedded in the Afghan establishment on almost all levels to include army and police. Soviet cells operated in nearly every city. There were an estimated 2,500 Soviet advisors in Afghanistan. Military forces were massed to invade under the command of the the 40th Soviet Army commanded eventually by Colonel General Gromov, and it was itching for a fight; it got one, but only later after renegade CIA elements and a single US Congressman decided to make it a fight. For details see CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR by George Crile. Though the battle was fought under Reagan, most who know the history will agree that it was won despite Reagan's policies. With heavy casualties, 28,000 KIA, the Soviets were finally forced to withdraw their 103,000 troops ten years after the invasion. Some believe this defeat hastened the collapse of the USSR.

Exit Soviet Union and enter Taliban and bin Laden. The local communists and Soviet forces succeeded in destroying a cohesive government in Afghanistan. This left a vacuum that was filled by the local Taliban led by Mullah Omar and Arab partisans led by bin Laden, who were all religious Islamic fanatics. This group managed to control most of the country except for the northern tribal areas; Pakistan assisted them in these efforts. The fanatics were as ruthless as the Soviets when suppressing dissent: They imposed strict Islamic code that permitted the end of formal female education; they practiced public beating and executions; and they destroyed non Islamic historic sites, many of which predated Islam. Religious police enforced rules with on the spot with beatings. Bin Laden was permitted to build terror training camps which in the end produced the 9/11 attacks, and that later sparked the US invasion of Afghanistan as reprisal for the deadly assaults on New York and Washington.

Enter US, NATO and Karzai into Afghanistan. In a short brilliant military campaign by CIA and US military forces, the Taliban was initially defeated and bin Laden was forced to flee. As the Taliban and Arabs chose to stand and fight, massed and in the open, they were obliterated and vaporized by bombs when US Special forces and CIA operatives riding ponys and modified dune buggies called in air strikes. The northern tribes formed into a ragtag ground force and provided the main manpower while the US provided the deadly firepower. The initial victories went sour quickly... Mullah Omar was prepared to surrender at Kandahar, surrounded by US Marines, but Karzai talked Rumsfeld into permitting him to accept the surrender. By the time Karzai got his make-up on, his cape pressed and his Persian lamb headgear fumigated, Omar had fled; he now remains on the loose and still in charge of the Taliban. Bin Laden was chased into the Tora Bora area of Afghanistan, but because Rumsfeld foolishly decided to have tribal mercenaries guard the escape routes, our prize quarry slipped away and is still making deadly mischief. As it is now, there are 28,000 US/NATO troops. The Soviets were unable to pacify and control the country with 103,000 and did not have the problems of command and control found in coalition force operations.

Five years later Mullah Omar is back, along with his Taliban, bin Laden and all his Arabs. As GW Bush siphoned off forces from the Afghan theater to invade and occupy oil rich Iraq, the military situation in Afghanistan became stagnant. It is now clear that Karzai is only mayor of Kabul with almost no impact throughout the country – he still needs Delta Force guards even to take a piss. There is clear intelligence that Spring in the land of the Hindu Kush is going to be a hot time. Omar's and bin Laden's forces have been rearmed and retrained; most likely bankrolled by expanded opium interests who understand that the US and Karzai want them to substitute sugar beets for the opium crop. Tactically, you can bet they will avoid stand and fight as in the earlier days. They will employ extensive IED on the roads with techniques perfected in Iraq, and will have a stable of suicide bombers who thirst for martyrdom – both the IED and the Kamikaze bombers are something that even the Soviets did not have to face. As far as hearts and minds appeal for US/NATO forces, that was lost years ago by consistent, careless collateral damage inflicted on Afghan civilian non combatants – building roads or hospitals by coalition forces offers little psychologically to compensate for the personal losses of the people.

Pakistan with Musharraf is the key to US interests in the area. His control of Pakistan is limited as evinced recently when he cut a hands-off deal with the tribal areas that de facto permits the Taliban and bin Laden Arabs to stage for attacks into Afghanistan. Musharraf is still haunted by the mysterious aircraft accident that killed Military President Zia-ul-haq, US ambassador Arnie Raphel, the US military attache, and some of Zia's favorite generals on August 17, 1988; this happened right after the Soviet withdrawal. Zia's government was a major factor in supplying the rebels and defeating the Russian forces. Musharraf also has a price on his head with several attempts already on his life. US blandishments for more assistance in Afghanistan has a limited effect on Musharraf due to constriction of his rule. Musharraf and Karzai hate each other, each blaming the other for the turmoil in Afghanistan and bin Laden's escape. Despite his pack of domestic troubles, Musharraf has aided the US by bagging terrorists and turning a blind eye on some US cross-border operations; however, the US in its relations with him has to sit up straight and avoid taking him for granted – after all, he does have Islamic nuclear bombs and means to deliver them. Pakistan, totally under control of Jihadists, is a nightmare for the US; hopefully that will never come. Next time the Israeli lobby tries to block US military aid to Pakistan, write your congressman and senators and demand they vote for US interests and not those of Israel...

By any standards, the Afghan tribal fighter is the most fearful in the world; once integrated into formal military formation, he seems to lose his ferocity. This savage group of fighters slaughtered Tennessee mules for food sent by the US to carry military equipment, after using them as sexual partners. They do not take prisoners in the Western sense; before the prisoners are killed slowly... and horribly, they are sexually abused. The US tried to secure Soviet prisoners from them during the Russian war... managed to receive only two, both of whom were very disturbed mentally. One ended up holding up a 7/11 in Vienna, Virginia, and the other was picked up for molesting a young boy. The British soldiers during the Raj period were told always to save at least one bullet for themselves if overrun. A story is told during the same period, while the British were using very rough interrogation techniques on a tribesman who kept laughing. When asked why he was laughing, the tribesman replied: YOU KNOW HOW TO GET HERE, BUT YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO GET OUT. The British Army was eventually slaughtered by the tribal fighters..... Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET

*Photograph: Afghan – 1870; oil Painting by V.V.Vereshchagin. Tretykov Gallery, Moscow

Friday, March 02, 2007

Role Models; Past, Present and Future

Lanny Davis, the mealy-mouthed apologist for former President Clinton during his times of troubles, whined in a recent radio interview, that while addressing a collegiate audience, he was nearly laughed off the stage when he asked the students how many wanted to be politicians when they grew up. He was aghast that they had such contempt for a profession for which he apparently has deep reverence. My take on the scene was that Davis was fortunate in escaping the underclassmen without a cream pie thrown in his face.

A major problem is that idealistic young people have a tough time respecting much other than getting by or getting rich. The old role models such as political leaders, responsible military commanders, the clergy, captains of industry, astronauts, film stars, rock stars, labor leaders and police officers have all suffered from the drum beat of hypocrisy, self indulgence, and even corruption. Lawyers, bankers, insurance salesmen and car dealers never had much respect, so there was no way their role in society has diminished. With 25 billion spent by Americans on illegal narcotics, the dope dealer and money launderer certainly has achieved new status in America. Also with it, Bling is now high fashion...

Politicians such as GW Bush and VEEP Cheney and their clique who cynically deceived the voters into a deadly, cataclysmic war, with the consent of a majority of our opportunistic representatives in congress, are examples of the scum that takes the luster off a political career. Widespread corruption and sex scandals by congress make the profession even more repugnant. As the Democrats' knees buckle on ending the war, the disgust with the highest, recently elected officials mounts and grows even deeper. For the latest smoke and mirrors performance, see Democrat Senator Levin's proposal to change the Iraq war authorization to one that calls for permanent presence of US troops in Iraq... Some change! Speaker of the House Pelosi, wounded by VEEP Cheney's attack on her as unpatriotic for trying to end the war, crawled into a ball and said she was going to tell the president on him. When she did, she could only talk to Bush's chief of staff. Pelosi, a Joan of Arc, she is not – she will not be burned at the stake over her principles or politics. Cheney by now has developed into a Doctor Strange Love and should be netted and sent to a padded cell before he inflicts more damage on the US with more or expanded wars. The VP should have been jolted into a lucid interval with the blast outside the gates of Bagram, Afghanistan, that killed over 20 people during his recent victory lap inside that NATO base.

Perhaps the steepest decline in prestige is in the US military leadership. Most recent evidence of military incompetence and failure to attend to duty is the scandal at Walter Reed Hospital where THE WASHINGTON POST reported the substandard conditions endured by seriously wounded soldiers during out-patient treatment. Once the story broke, the Army scrambled to correct the problems. Heads rolled. The Commander of the Hospital was relieved and the Army Surgeon General, his staff supervisor, also should be relieved for dereliction of duty. Already NCOs and company grade officers have been punished. What about more of the higher pay grades? Not another Abu Gahrib scapegoating of lower ranks and one inept reserve female general, Karpinski?

By the way, where is pass-the-buck General Sanchez sitting now? The Army leadership, in charge of the combat theater, has lost the ground war in Iraq through incompetence. Marines and soldiers have fought their hearts out, but executing flawed tactics and strategy is the decisive issue and that dead dog lies at the feet of the military leadership. The promotion of General Casey to Army Chief of Staff as a reward for failure is tarnish on the blade by the old army standards. Who wants to be part of that corrupt system? The Army lost in Vietnam and now is losing badly in Iraq. Gotta figure out why? Doubt whether a MacArthur, Patton, Marshall, Ridgeway or Max Taylor could be promoted pass colonel in today's corporate Army. These men were products of WWII. Who remembers the generals that came afterwards? Westmoreland was a loser. Dr. General Abezaid and Dr. General Petraeus are the best we have now? Suggest more career time in the field, in professional military service, rather than pursuing PHD degrees that make them as narrow and technocratic as their civilian counterparts. We need leaders in the Army, not professors – I would even prefer to send them to the Peace Corps for a tour of duty, at least there they would get a grasp on third world mentalities and pick up some obscure language, and certainly, would not be overwhelmed by corruption in later assignments as Petraeus was in his last tour in Iraq. If that is unacceptable, how about a years tour administering federal funds in the inner city? With that experience no more naivete when the officers go to war later in the Third World.

GW Bush has managed to mix church and state – something the US constitution signers tried to avoid. They understood that the religious sects were fleeing Europe to avoid persecution, but also understood that their views should not be part of government, otherwise you exchange the English Crown for an intolerant religious tyranny. That concept operated pretty well in America until Bush wanted to reward 25% of his Republican base, composed of members of the extreme religious right with influence in the US government. Mainly evangelical leaders were regulars at the White House and federal programs developed to enhance their influence. At the same time the Catholic church was having major problems with pederast priests – certainly not to be blamed on GW Bush, but it played into the whole picture of a divisive religious ferment in the US. The Catholic clergy and other Christian religious elements have now involved their churches in the promoting of illegal aliens, which is a GW Bush policy. Most American Jews, apart from their faith, are faced with the problem of priority of loyalties to Israel or the US. The Islamic people in the US have trouble accepting the concept IN GOD WE TRUST stamped into our coins and have serious difficulties assimilating. In any case, the religious elites in the US are now openly arranging political fund raisers instead of acting as men of God administering to their flocks – and that is a change in role that has taken place under the rule of Bush.

Captains of industry now have destroyed over three million manufacturing jobs in the US in the name of globalization which is a basic sellout to China, India and Mexico as cheap labor sources without safety and environmental restrictions; this is a short term gain for CEOs and stock holders and long term disaster for the US manufacturing base. Meanwhile the corporations, Bush and congress seek to expand the destruction of what remains through a flood of illegal immigration as manufacturing is moved overseas where it is easier to make profits. US trade unions stand by as the US labor force is destroyed. What happened to strikes? Is the fix in?

As far as finding a profession with integrity, that is a tough assignment as even our highly vetted astronauts go berserk and our doctors are bound by HMOs or suffocated by insurance corporations. Film stars or celebrities with few exceptions are banal. Rock and Rap stars are subhuman, and journalists are the second oldest profession. Law enforcement? Think about sleazy 9/11 Police Chief Bernard Kerik. But like it or not, that is the human condition – may as well be a pirate of the Caribbean with lots of fresh air, sunshine, adventure and loot. Sometimes you can even blow up things and you do not need a conscience; it is as good as the rest of most professions, and unfettered by bureaucracy... Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET

*Photograph: Maid of Orleans in Red Tape