Thursday, May 24, 2007

Raft of Medusa – Lost Survivors
GW Bush’s Iraq Shipwreck

A French sailing ship, The Medusa, was lost at sea off the coast of Africa in 1816. It was a catastrophe that was caused by gross mismanagement and an incompetent captain; its survivors were depicted by a very famous, dramatic painting, The Raft of Medusa by Théodore Géricault and it still inhabits the Louvre in Paris. The terrible suffering depicted on this raft had shock value that drove the French government into action. There was a coverup which in the end protected the French captain, because of his aristocratic birth and connections.

The Iraqi war today has apparently lost its shock value, except for the American and Iraqi families who bury their dead and nurse the wounded. On the Raft of Medusa the survivors murdered each other and practiced cannibalism. In Iraq people are murdered in combat and sectarian violence; no cannibalism yet reported, but there is plenty of vicious torture to compensate. And GW Bush is certainly an incompetent leader who so far has been protected from paying any cost for his serial disasters there and elsewhere.

The war politically has taken down Rumsfeld, Slam-Dunk Tenet, Libby, Powell, and Slime Ball Wolfowitz twice; but, the neocon band plays on. Elliot Abrams provides the score from the NSC while GW Bush, his frothing VEEP, vacuous Condoleezza, the frazzled CIA, and the doting military leadership keep in step. They insure we stand and die in Iraq. The Democrats are busy negotiating among themselves on how to extend the war in Iraq, but not be responsible for it. They are doing exactly what the Israel lobby decrees, and those who profit from the war, wish. It is as if the American leadership, both Democratic and Republican, has grabbed the country by the hair, forcing its face to be buried in the stinking muck of Iraq...

I watched as Tony Blair, a.k.a. Bush's poodle, said his 24th good bye from the White House with GW Bush holding his hand. English propaganda likes to postulate that anyone using English English in America is automatically awarded 10% on his IQ score. Perhaps this is true, especially when standing and speaking beside GW Bush. My own attitude on English English, however, has always been nationalist and sharply different, e.g. ARE YOU ENGLISH OR ARE YOU AFFECTED? Blair is dogmatic to the end on his enabling role for Bush in the Iraq war; he has no regrets and says so self righteously. He would invade even with what he knows now, but his Socialist Party does not agree and has tossed him on the dung heap of history. Blair managed to be pal to both Clinton and GW Bush which demonstrates his proclivity to live with squalid morality and idiotic behavior. Even Lost Soul, former President Jimmy Carter, sounded off on Blair by condemning him for helping GW Bush's Iraq war.

Traditionally the British soldier has been one of the best pound for pound fighting man in the world. So it is with surprise that the English establishment refuses to send Prince Harry to war in Iraq with his messmates. Apparently there is no confidence he can be protected. Message here for the English subjects is that soldiers are expected to do their duty unless you are the grandson of the Queen. Apparently Prince Harry has been detailed to Buckingham Palace to protect the servants from being bit by the Queen's snarling corgis. This is a far cry from Kipling's, SHIP ME EAST OF SUEZ WHERE THE BEST IS LIKE THE WORST; WHERE THERE IS NO TEN COMMANDMENTS AND A MAN CAN RAISE A THIRST. Prince Harry sadly must now spend the rest of his life demonstrating he is not a candy ass – take up speed boat racing, formula one car racing or going over the Niagara Falls in a barrel or, whatever. Perhaps once Tony Baloney Blair departs power, the English will regain their stiff upper lip lost in the Prince Harry fiasco and recently, by the Royal Navy's mawkish surrender debacle to Iran in the Straits of Hormuz.

Whereas President Truman had a sign on his desk, THE BUCK STOPS HERE, Bush has one that states THE BUCK STARTS HERE. Even Ronald Reagan openly admitted his foolishness in Iran Contra when he traded weapons for hostages. Bush just blows off his missteps; he blames the intelligence community or a confused, inept bureaucracy. How one man remains without blame in office during successive calamities is a tribute to his propaganda machine and the banality of the American media. As a matter of fact, the screw ups under GW Bush seem to flourish. Key players in 9/11 at CIA are now just doing fine. Slam Dunk Tenet is selling books – Kofer Black, the then head of the terrorist task force that could not stop terrorists, is working as an executive for security giant Blackwater, and another key CIA operative responsible for bin Laden staying alive is working for Scowcroft and associates – incompetence pays! A classic failure is poster boy of the neurotic, nutty neocons, Paul Wolfowitz, who was rescued by Bush from being lynched for his disastrous role in the Iraq war at the Pentagon. Bush appointed him to a soft, tax free job to head the World Bank; he promptly embarrassed his country by playing follow his lolly, insuring his sweetheart made big money. He was fired on ethics issues, for breaking the World Bank rules on favoritism. Wolfowitz eventually will write a book that will turn against Bush, but his disloyal character flaw will help him sell it. So what is new with the creep? Some say Bush wants to appoint Alberto Gonzales to replace the lolly chaser at the bank!!!

Any expectation that Bush will solve the national security problem in Iraq he has created, is non existent. The arguments that if the US departs the country, more chaos in the country and region will ensue are unrealistic; what is true is that Iranians will move to stabilize the Shiites hegemony and the Saudis will take the game away from the US by bribing Sunni sheiks arming them against Shiites and al Qaeda. Everyone in Iraq wants the US out except those on the US dole, and contractors profiting on the war. The Iraq Army, over 300,000 strong, just will not fight for the US. Less than 50% report for duty after being trained and equipped by the US. There are about 6,000 Talibani Kurds who fight from time to time for money – that is about it. The US effort to establish a pluralistic central government is a fantasy – the whole show is tribal – that is the locus of power as diverse as it is, and there is where US political efforts should focus. US casualties continue to soar as insurgent weapon lethality is developing faster than the US countermeasures and tactics. US threats to depart Iraq if the Shiite government fails to do its bidding are farcical; on the contrary, it has told the US to go soonest. Republican apologists still cannot define US victory in Iraq; there is still no mission except stand and die and prevent defeat so the Jihadist will not gloat. Believe me, the Shiites and Sunni Sheiks will take care of al Qaeda in Iraq – it was not there until the US invaded and it will be strangled the moment the US departs, as its usefulness against the US in country fades. Al Qaeda is hated by the Iraqis as much as the US, if that is any consolation to stand-and-die Republicans

Up until now the self destructive Democrat congressional majority has made it evident for all kinds of foolish reasons, that it cannot execute the voters’ mandate to end the Iraq war. About the only thing that will end the US tragedy in Iraq, is if the US military stands up, says it is stupid to continue by wasting more lives. General Petraeus is not the man to do it as he is part of the problem with his reputation riding on the surge and new/old tactics. It will take the Joint Chiefs in unison to make it stick... Even though Marine General Pace OJCS Chief is a go-along weak reed, by now the Chiefs should be up to their eyeballs in stupid, irresponsible civilian leadership. Let's hear it for Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz while SecDef Gates figures out the difference between a tank and ship. When the SecDef figures this out, he should turn his attention to the difference between a civil war and an insurgency. Colonel Robert E Bartos Colonel USA RET

Photograph: Painting The Raft of Medusa by Théodore Géricault

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Anybody Home? No, Bush Wanders in the Desert

In the midst of all the mayhem, can you believe that the Iraqi parliament intends to take two months off this summer? It is as if someone mysteriously writes new negative imponderables for GW Bush's Iraq faster than he and our goofy congress devise solutions to the old ones. Can the US forces go on rest and recuperation for two months while the Iraqi politicians go fishing in the Tigris and Euphrates? Never thought of Mars, God of War, as a deadly humorist until GW Bush went to war in Iraq. The administration lost grip on the situation the day it invaded while congress never had one. When the anguish and rage fade in the future, Bush's pathetically tragicomic Iraq war will serve as a libretto in a light opera.

Given the rates of US killed in action in Iraq, the two months the Iraq parliament is off, 175 Americans will die in combat. Gotta be Bush's worst nightmare as this horribly, pointless sacrificial waste sinks into the outraged American public.

Even more unbelievable for the Neocon and pro-war Republican spinners is that the Iraqi parliament, before it goes fishing for two months, intends to pass a resolution with a time schedule for the US to get out of Iraq. Now what is Mr. Bush going to do to justify his continued occupation? Sure, he will find some Kurdish supporters like President Talabani who, along with other pro US supporters in country, will likely have their throats cut by insurgent tribes after the US departs. Bush's messianic rationale for a democratic Iraq has bit him in the ass badly, So, why do we remain there if we are told democratically to go home? Oil and Israel security reasons – for which neither is worth dying. Oil revenues are tangled and producers are involved in deep, deep corruption. If necessary, let Israelis die for Israel, but not Americans. These events, the vacation by the Iraqi parliament and its intended get-out resolution, undercut any proposals on the books by the congress or the president except: GET OUT SOONEST.....

Splurge on the surge appears more misguided by the day as Baghdad continues to bleed badly and US forces are killed at an alarming rate. Pro war creeps in the US are already begging off the September moment of truth as unrealistic; they have ordered more troops into the inferno for after September. Our National Guard now facing widespread tornados, fires and floods in the US, must live with the reality that over half its equipment is stuck in the sands of Iraq, and their members are returning to Iraq for more tours of combat. Even loyal love-the-war Republicans are beginning to feel their flesh creep as the reality of the colossal incompetence of the Bush administration and military leadership become stunningly more despairing. The Democrats, however, also are contributing to the disarray as fast as they can in Washington as they wring their hands, amending the war instead of ending it by boldly cutting funds. The Iraqi parliament and a majority of American people agree, ironically, on GET OUT.

US Major General Mixon is requesting more troops to be sent to Diyala province as he is losing military control – this province borders on Iran. Sixty US troops have been lost there while General Petraeus unsuccessfully focuses security operations on Baghdad. Mixon also complained about the ineffective Iraqi troops and that the Iraqi central government fails to come to his rescue – these points were made at an official Pentagon press conference, so the situation must be approaching grave as the general openly asks for aid and has a sharply different set of talking points than Bush. Meanwhile the Bush band mindlessly plays on.

VEEP Cheney is on the road to put his finger into the bursting dike. Went to Baghdad and visited an aircraft carrier in the Gulf, where he promptly popped off. You would think that the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED Bush administration had enough of aircraft carrier public relations props. At least our Pickwickean, rotund VEEP spared the US the sight of his skin-tight, flight-suit fashion statement. With rockets and mortars going off on his visits to Baghdad and recently at Khandahar, Cheney has finally come under enemy fire after all his determined deferments during the Vietnam era. His comments on the aircraft carrier warned Iran about acquiring a nuc bomb and closing the Persian Gulf, neither of which Iran has threatened or proclaimed, but does have the eventual capabilities. What Cheney refuses to face is that there are already Islamic nucs in Pakistan where the US influence seems to diminish each day as Musharraf faces more internal turmoil.

Bush's Iraq has reached a surrealistic phase. Nothing he proclaims seems to bear on reality. He has no credibility. Even his favorite scare tactic they will come here if we do not stop them there was eroded by reality as Sunni Sheiks are banding together to fight al Qaeda; so some Sunnis now at least hate the Jihadists as much as they do us – that is warped progress – the Saudis are paying the sheiks to kill al Qaeda Jihadists. Wish I could believe the CIA had a hand in it, but that is too much to expect from the old Tenet team. By now the US should have figured out the Sunnis are potential allies – not the Shiites for whom we have been killing Sunnis – it is long past time to get smart. Smart is not a word associated with GW Bush and his hair brained, pro Israeli neocons.

General Petraeus must understand that he is being set up by Bush as the September deadline approaches when he is publicly to evaluate the security and political situation in Iraq. If it is a rosy scenario, the war will rage on with a final US defeat and he will be blamed. If he paints a grim situation, he will be branded incompetent and a defeatist, because his surge failed. In the end in either case, he will be forced politically by the Administration to jump into a sacrificial volcano. But when he makes the leap, he should lock arms with Generals Franks, Abizaid, Sanchez and Casey, all of whom contributed to the US military debacle. It may be touching gesture as they plunge into the bubbling lava, if they all execute a smart salute and shout, YES SIR, MR. PRESIDENT. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET

Photograph: Etching by Francisco de Goya

Friday, May 11, 2007

Drifting and Dreaming – Republicans in 2008

At the recent presidential debates, was it the gong show or 10 Republican candidates acting like circus trained seals barking on command as moderator Chris Matthews threw them verbal sardines? All but one robotically loved the Iraq War. Three holy rollers said they did not believe in evolution; they collectively invoked Ronald Reagan's name 19 times and GW Bush's name only once. Maybe they understood Daddy Bush and his first born boy buried any vestiges of conservative policies in the Republican party. At least Ron Paul reminded them what an old school Republican used to believe.

Bomb-Bomb-Bomb McCain appeared so mad that he might have had to be restrained as he projected an excited fury over today’s American enemies in Iraq and Iran. As I recollect, he also committed the US to nuclear warfare if Israel is attacked by Iranian nucs. In what treaty is that protocol? Perhaps he was soliciting campaign contributions from jittery Israeli First Americans. Bomb-Bomb-Bomb looked his age and unfortunately acted out the brittle downside of his 70 years, as a man who knows his time is running out. If you believe GW Bush has lost it as president, consider the fact that Bomb-Bomb-Bomb never had it. His success at self promotion has been eclipsed only by Paris Hilton.

Lost in the sturm and drang of the debates, was Governor Tommy Thompson's proposal on Iraq. He wanted every one of the 18 provincial Iraqi capitals to share in the country's oil profits, every Iraqi citizen allocated a fair share oil profits and the Iraqi people to vote democratically on the continued presence of American occupation forces. The first two proposals are of course utopian, but the last one would be interesting. You will not need a Zogby poll to tell you the results: over 80% will vote YANKEE GO HOME. Thompson still calls himself Tommy – when does he graduate to Tom? South of the Mason Dixon Line old men die as Jimmy, Bobby, Sonny; that’s a little boy tradition I never understood, but accept. Tom Thompson, with his dyspeptic looks, needs a white grocers apron and he would fit into the local super market management in the butter and eggs department. I like the Tommy Tom, he is genuine. As governor, he ran a politically divided state successfully and has solid common sense despite a few public gaffs made playing in prime time. Would trust him to do the right thing as president over most of the other candidates. So what if he is not the prettiest – neither was honest Abe.

Buzz has it that Romney is the White House's favorite Republican candidate – there have even been trial balloons launched suggesting Jeb Bush is to be his running mate. Romney's strong suit is his predatory pragmatism; quite simply, he will say about anything to win and apparently with clear conscience. Keeping his eye on the ball, he gets the job done and has a CEO mentality that if you do not produce, you are out. He is good looking, smart, energetic and has demonstrated he can lead. He is a Mormon – a religion that believes the resurrected angel Moroni will show them the way rather than a resurrected Christ. So what if he puts a gold statue of Moroni blowing his horn on top of the White House or the Washington Monument, as long as Moroni produces for the country. This religion gives the born-again evangelical holy rollers a holy fit. They do not consider the religion Christian, so this question of Mormonism may be a serious problem for the base of the Republican party, who prefer crosses on their churches over the Angel Maroni blowing his trumpet. Should he receive the nomination, his Mormonism could cause issues with blacks and Jews in a general election. Can Moroni get the US out of Iraq and catch bin Laden, if so bring him on. I will even learn the four Mormon handshakes and change my name to Brigham, if I thought it helped.

Rudy Giuliani still thinks the USA is like NYC. I spent over a year there as a grad student – it is another world – where else in the USA do you still have Socialist rent control? Everyone there has a mighty minority problem, otherwise, how can a charlatan like Al Sharpton survive? You have Puerto Rican Day when mothers have to hide their daughters and you cannot leave a potted plant out or it disappears; the Irish have a parade and fight over whether gay Irishmen can parade; Macy's barrage balloon floats attack parade bystanders; Chinatown provides any exotic sin your heart desires as well as great Kung Pao chicken; Brighton Beach produces the best fake Russian antiques in the world; and Jihadists targeted and struck the city twice. Last Sunday the NYC Jews held a Solidarity With Israel parade with Mayor Bloomberg as Grand Marshal, so the city apparently has its own foreign policy. Despite all this turmoil, it is probably the most exciting and interesting place in the world... But do not for one moment believe there is transfer of training from there to run the White House; it is like taking a rodeo rider on a bucking Brahma bull to ride in a refined judged horse show competition. There have been governors of the state of New York, but not NYC mayors in the White House for good reason – the thug mentality helps in NYC, but runs into trouble quickly in Washington. Giuliani's gumba, Bernie Kerik, lasted about a week as the nominee for the Home Land Defense cabinet post. Rudy has many albatrosses around his neck with more to come and will probably sink like a stone – Rudy could do the job... As far as his performance at the debates, with Rudy take what you got; he is not going to change and he certainly is not as bad as what we have as president now.

Iraq is the burning issue of the 2008 election. Democrats appear skittish to cut off funding for the war. Even Senator Webb who was elected on a stridently anti-war platform is now just talking about finding another course. Believe Webb has caught Potomac fever after his election. Democrat candidate Edwards has the right idea: just keep sending the bill back to Bush without the pork and let him veto it over and over. There is a good chance the Democrats will blow the war issue, or nominate Obama or Hillary; if they do, the Republican candidate has a chance. In this instance, let us hope there are more choices on the Republican side. By the way, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Reid is a Mormon. Guess he waiting for the Angel Moroni to show him the path on Iraq. Colonel Robert E Bartos Colonel USA RET

* Photograph:
Etching Ya es hora by Francisco de Goya

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Passing in Review – Slam Dunk Tenet & General Petraeus

Asked an old pal of mine, a president of a small Virginia bank, how he reconciled the record breaking, rocketing US stock market with the fact the dollar has plunged to record lows against the EURO and that US balance of payments so desperately favor nearly every country on the globe; for example, the unfavorable balance with China is so gigantic that if the Chinese decided to dump their dollar surplus on the foreign exchanges, it would wreck the US economy. His ponderous reply was THERE WILL BE ADJUSTMENTS. About the same time I talked with the banker, former CIA Director George Tenet broke his low profile cover to hawk his book, and General David Petraeus took time off as the US Caesar in Mesopotamia to share his military/political wisdom to support congressional funding for more war. Except for deception practiced by both men that link their conduct, it is apparent in each case, THERE WILL BE ADJUSTMENTS, as the enormity of their failures sinks into the fabric of America.

Tenet made his TV debut on 60 Minutes last Sunday night. Some of his old CIA cohorts call him the Alberto Gonzales of the CIA. Based on his 30 minutes on 60 Minutes, he substantiated the title, but CIA has had other Albertos. Take Admiral Stansfield Turner's crippling of the clandestine wing of CIA, because he believed it to be a rogue element. And Woolsey, who lasted only a short time because he could not clean up the stinking spy mess at CIA after the Soviet Union recruited Aldrich Ames. Or Deutch, an appointment by Clinton, who had to be pardoned by him after he was arrested and relieved for breaches in national security. Those failures, in the main, were accomplished by those who never collected nor professionally analyzed intelligence. They had no experience in any of the intelligence crafts – they were not respected and instead were resisted by CIA rank and file, because they were not one of their kind of professionals; Tenet fit their dubious mold as CIA Director.

Coming from a background of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Tenet appeared to be a man for all seasons. Like it or not, the CIA Director is a politically charged job that has always bent to political winds of the party in power. Tenet managed to ride the tiger under Clinton and GW Bush. That is a tribute to his political agility, but not his intelligence professionalism. As history has documented, he was at the center of the storm of massive intelligence failures on 9/11 and the fiasco in Iraq. When asked on 60 Minutes why Bin Laden escaped the CIA at Tora Bora, he gasped: DID YOU EVER SEE A MAP OF TORA BORA? My take on that was the CIA and Rumsfeld agreed as an economy force principle to block the escape routes from Tora Bora with tribal mercenaries; Bin Laden just paid more bribes and flew the coop. Overall, the CIA should be given credit for nabbing second tier al Qaeda leadership and defeating the Taliban in the first round, The Afghan War, but it missed the hit-man Bin Laden and Mullah Omar who have lived to fight a second round.

Tenet now appears to be playing the role of victim. Perhaps he may even appear on Oprah Winfrey show widening his search for pity. He blames Cheney, Condoleezza and Beelzebub for his misfortunes and his disgrace – Slam Dunk Tenet is his name and all his pathetic tears will not wash it away – when his interviewer corners him on an issue, he reverts to human-beings-make mistakes arguments. He really cannot explain why he accepted the Medal of Freedom from GW Bush if he believed he was so wronged – he can always put it in a box and return it if he wishes. Slam Dunk Tenet will die a rich man; the advances on his book were enormous. He is now earning his pay flogging the book. Apparently he also lectures at Georgetown University... I am tempted to sign up for his course just to hector him, after all, America is Tenet's victim. Did you ever figure out why he named the CIA Headquarters after GW Bush's Fumbler Daddy when other former directors were more appropriate and contributed much more to the organization... try Richard Helms, Alan Dulles or Wild Bill Donovan for starters. Slam Dunk Tenet will eventually come to the conclusion that when you live by the political sword, you die by it. If Tenet is so concerned over his honor, he can always take the Japanese route: commit Hari Kari on the map of Iraq.

General David Petraeus was back in Washington to promote the war in Iraq. Like doctors promoting sickness, I still cringe when Generals turn into war advocates. It bothered me with Westmoreland in the Vietnam War and now with Petraeus in Iraq. Petreaus promised that he would tell us in September whether the war was worth continuing – he just kicked the can down the road. Does he have the moral courage to tell the truth?

Petreaus' appearance does not inspire confidence; even at the photo-op in the White House, he slouched as he posed seated with GW Bush in front of the fireplace. He is well decorated and has demonstrated physical courage, but his uniform needs a better tailor as it pulls away from his long neck at the back. Appearance counts big in military leadership; MacArthur's imperial bearing, the indomitable bullishness of Ridgeway, Abrams and Halsey, and the kiss my ass arrogance of Patton with his ivory handled revolvers and all. Westmoreland's handsome Hollywood looks were straight from central casting. Patraeus body language inspires no confidence; Petraeus' best attribute appears to be earnestness and that does not lead men. The pro war neocons and Republicans have tried to make him a poster boy despite this, but Petreaus was already in trouble in his second tour in Iraq because of his difficulty counting ready to fight Iraq military units. He was sent to Ft. Leavenworth to head the Army staff college. By most reckoning his career was over, but he defied the odds, got another star and now runs the war in Iraq. Much hoopla is made by pro war advocates because he edited a Counter Insurgency Manual with the USMC while he was there, but most of the manual's substance is over taken by events. You cannot put Abu Gahrib, Debaathification, disbandment of the Iraqi Army and Police, and failure to secure ammo dumps back in the bottle; so, disregard the training manual hype – it is baloney. Who reads training manuals in combat anyway? Recently reported massive failures in US reconstruction efforts in Iraq certainly do not aid Petraeus' mojo.

As of this writing 104 Americans have been killed in Iraq in April. None of the political benchmarks for Iraqis are close to being met. No oil sharing, no constitutional reform, no integration of the Baathists, no security as sectarian violence mounts and except for the Kurds, most Iraq regular military forces will not fight. Are you certain General, that we can wait until September until you tell us what the average American knows now: it ain’t working and the costs mount pointlessly. Contrary to Petraeus' assessment, there are not two clocks working in Iraq, namely, an Iraqi clock and a US clock. My General, there is only one clock that is working – the American one. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET

Photograph: Nohubo remedio by Francisco de Goya