Friday, April 06, 2007


GW Bush Breathing Deeply

Like American comedian Rodney Dangerfield used to say, I GET NO RESPECT; isolated, GW Bush now must mutter under his breath the same words. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has patronizingly advised GW Bush publicly, TO TAKE A DEEP BREATH, as he huffed and puffed over the congressional efforts to limit the Iraqi war with recent passed appropriation bills.

Bush's world changed with both houses of congress falling under Democratic control in the 2006 elections, but he has not. His back is pressed against the wall with orbiting scandals at Justice, Defense and the chronic ineptitude of his State Department – Pelosi is going to Damascus, because the Israelis will not permit Condoleezza to visit... As if matters could not get worse in the Middle East, long time ally King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called the US illegal occupiers in Iraq. Condoleezza has to do something to stop the slide. Maybe change her hairdo or perfume, because she, like her boss GWB, is just not getting any respect.

Each day the president faces a new horror in Iraq that continues to erode the confidence the American people have in him. He tells us one day the surge is just doing fine and the next day Iraqis are slaughtered in record numbers. Now Shiite cleric el Sadr is back on camera, frothing at the mouth as Sadr City was hit by aerial bombs. Sadr has called for massive Shiite demonstrations in early April to protest the US occupation. My guess is that this is only step one to the future escalating violence. As Bush bungles along trying to stay in Iraq until his term is over, he tends to further complicate the situation with more hair brained decisions, like the surge and permanent bases in Iraq. His rosy scenarios on Iraq become more laughable each time he opens his mouth. He did not tell us, for example, in the month of March, well into the surge, that the US lost 81 soldiers while the Iraqi Army lost 44. What about that, General Petraeus? When are you going to take our troops off point? What happened to those trained Iraqi battalions you say are ready to fight? Can anyone trust Bush not to continue the stupidity in Iraq? The dice are rolling and Bush can shoot only snake eyes.

Iran's taking of 15 British Marines and sailors who were involved in boarding an Iranian freighter has added more combustible material to the region. Some believe it was a provocation by the British to help Bush militarily to engage Iran – the same people argue that it was the British who provided Bush with the spurious YELLOW CAKE disinformation, so the modus operandi remains the same. My sense is that the provocation argument is not valid; however, from personal experience investigating international incidents, men and nations lie, and instruments go haywire or are misread intentionally or unintentionally. What trigger happy Bush has to keep in mind is that the misbegotten Lebanese bombing by Israel was allegedly over prisoners and we know now bombs do not return POWs. At a minimum, Bush should have employed his own national technical means to verify the accuracy of the events before he stridently jumped on Blair's bandwagon. Maybe he did. It seems certain the European Union just took Blair's word. More and more the taking of British Navy personnel by the Iranians suggests an effort by the Iranians to set up an exchange for Iranian captives held by the US in Iraq.

Under current Pentagon leadership, it is apparent that military intelligence officers, apart from targeting data, appear to have lost their courage to deliver bad news to policy makers. The CIA may have someone who can put Bush on his knee and explain carefully what war with Iran is all about. Lesson #1 is that it is not going to be a limited war as much as goofy neocons will try to sell him on it. i.e., just blow up the Iranian nuc facilities, airfields, missile sites and go home; lesson #2, no matter how much you punish Iran strategically through bombardment, it will not force a regime change; lesson #3 is that it will be a war of attrition with both sides losing in the end, exhausted; and lesson #4 is that tribal revolts by Kurdish minorities will be suppressed by the Iranian troops.

We hope Bush can grasp the fanatic Shiite mentality; the Israelis did not in Lebanon and Saddam finally did in his eight-year war with Iran. Bush has figured out that Iran is not going to let go of 60% of Iraq; he is indeed misguided if he believes attacking Iran will force the Persians to loosen their grip on Iraq.

The weakness of Saddam and the Bush family is that they both fall into traps set by wars of choice: Saddam with his invasion of Kuwait and earlier in Iran in 1980, HW Bush with his invasion of Kuwait that was a prelude to GW Bush's invasion of Iraq. For Saddam the 1980-1988 war was a disaster; he lost an estimated 375,000 men and the Iranians lost 300,000 and the war ended in a stalemate. Saddam lost badly in Kuwait, signaling weakness and set himself up for a GW Bush invasion. The younger Bush believed his war would be as easy as his father's Kuwaiti invasion. It is not; and, the final chapter is still to be written.

Right now the US has a powerful naval flotilla in the Persian Gulf. As it flexes its military muscles there through exercises, it is being studied like a rat in a Skinner Box. Iran has surface to ship missiles, air to sea missiles and ship to ship missiles, all of which cannot be destroyed or intercepted. Iran also has a fleet of high speed torpedo boats, sea mines and some subs – worst of all for the US is that the Iranians have a suicidal Jihadist, or in navy parlance, a Kamikaze heart. In 1980 Saddam figured that the Ayatollahs had destroyed the deposed Shah's military establishment and the war would be a cake walk, but the Iranians rallied and freed the Shah's pilots from their jails, who subsequently fought their hearts out against Saddam. On the ground the Iranians impressed 15 year old boys, roped them together in groups of 20, gave them plastic keys to heaven, and had them form the first line of attack against the Iraqis, exploding mines with their bodies. Saddam even used poison gas against the Iranians and could not stop them.

Assume any air bombardment of Iran will result in an attack on US ground forces in Iraq by Iranian regular army and elite forces. Ships will sink, tankers will burn and oil will go over 100USD a barrel.

So President Bush, before you pull the trigger on Iran, you might take a deep breath as Fancy Nancy Pelosi’s motherly advise suggested to you earlier on Iraq. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET.
Photograph: Etching Disparate de bestia by Francisco de Goya

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