Thursday, June 28, 2007

CIA Search for Redemption and other Appalling Thoughts

Anyone in US national security who was engaged in the Cold War with the Soviet Union knows it was a Darwinian, ruthless struggle to win, or at a minimum, not to be beaten. The cold war played out on all continents in one way or another. In the process, brave, dedicated men died on both sides. CIA honors their fallen with an anonymous memorial. The Russians have a special hall of fame for their heroes of covert operations. So I find it appalling that the CIA has decided to exorcise itself of its perceived past crimes and pursue some cockeyed salvation through suffering drama that will only delight critics and those who are by nature low risk I told you so losers. Nothing here is uplifting. It is even not self righteous. CIA deserved the critical hits on domestic spying and LSD testing on the unsuspected, but foreign covert operations internationally are another thing.....

Last time I checked, the CIA is still not a religious organization. Understand Catholics go to confession to rid themselves of guilt. Jews, who invented the guilt complex, have their annual days of atonement. Protestants have this born again spiritual process that allegedly makes you a better person, but tends to turn some into Jesus freaks... Remember all those pitiful TV preachers rolling in remorse tearfully begging for forgiveness, because they sinned – watching those creeps cavorting makes you want to check out the other side, i.e. Beelzebub and his dark legions. Hallelujah, I am a bum seems to work as well as an act of contrition as any of the preceding pursuits of expiation....

So why in the world does CIA want dredge up activities that are best officially passed; historically buried? Nearly every one of its adventures has already, in some way, been exposed. The fact that the Kennedys wanted to kill Castro with exploding cigars and poisonous ice cream cones is nothing new. There are, however, many files on the Kennedy/Castro era that have disappeared that may shed light on the president's assassination. Now that would be a significant find. One thing for certain is that Castros' pagan Santeria god, Chango, protected him more than JFK's and RFK's Christian deities.

The fact is that many of these clandestine operations worked in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan and Iran were beautifully executed, but their long term impact is not so hot. This should not reflect on the people who did the nation's bidding as much as the politician who signed the findings or orders. CIA is always caught holding the bag as the politicians run for cover when the events surface... Recently, the CIA figured out that rough interrogation techniques, though ordered by Bush Inc., needed legal protection and forced the issue, and a Republican congress bent their way. It remains unclear whether CIA is authorized to torture, and there is pack of CIA operatives being chased by the Italian authorities now over such issues.

Assassinations, coups d'etat and rigging elections are all illegal, but so was invading Iraq and Kuwait. Realpolitik, greed or national interest trump morality and the law. The only immutable rule is do not lose the war or the bad guys will run you remorselessly to ground. Covert affairs are usually bloody with people killed or they just disappear. Hopeless Henry Kissinger said to a congressional committee after the US betrayed the Iraq Kurds in 1975 that, ONE SHOULD NOT CONFUSE UNDERCOVER ACTION WITH SOCIAL WORK.

Part of GW Bush's problem in Iraq and with the Israeli's permanent warfare is that neither of them will stop fighting, because they are unable to face the consequences of failure – to find yourself in this fix is result of dumb policies that plunged them into the morass. From their standpoint, there is nothing GW Bush or the current Israeli leadership can do except, FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT – KILL KILL KILL – DIE DIE DIE. Until there is a major change in leadership in both countries the bloody wars will continue. In Washington the frightening alternative to plunder capital Bush Republicans are ditzy Clinton Democrats who have not demonstrated any foreign policy acumen. Remember, Clinton permanently sprinkled the Balkans with US troops; and presently Bill's wife, who voted for the Iraq war, also wants to leave US permanent forces in Iraq. It was so bad during the Cold War that the liberal Democrat politicians were sometimes a greater threat to US national security than the Soviets. In Israel, at least, there remains a group of people fused together, symbolized by the assassinated Rabin. He realized accommodation eventually has to be made with the Arabs. Even Bulldozer Sharon was moving in that direction until he was struck down by the Jewish Pulsa Dinura curse (see Shrapnel January 18, 2006).

So other than a pointless public relations exercise what do CIA true confessions accomplish? They opens old wounds. We all know the brilliant stage management in Iran when the replacement of Mossadegh with the Shah led to US hostages, and to the sharp frictions today between the US and Iran. We know that the dramatically successful CIA operation against Soviets in Afghanistan blew back furiously in the form of bin Laden's terrorist organization. Do not blame the CIA. It did as ordered. What should have been learned is that when a president pulls the covert operations trigger, you never can be certain where the bullet goes – sometimes it ricochets.

Over the years, professionally, I have had sharp differences with the analytical and security side of the CIA. But I always had respect for the foreign covert operation teams – they tread where angels fear to tread. They had dash and competence. This élan has been damaged by permanent investigations and CIA Directors who tried to destroy the organization. In the old days, it was the Washington bureaucracy with the most spirit, morale and pride – the girlie boys, mostly Democratic politicians, did their best to curb CIA enthusiasm.

CIA has executed its self criticism and confessed its guilt publicly. The whole process had a whiff of a Marxist/Leninist purge trial except it did not end with a swift bullet in the back of the head. Now who is going to do the Black Bag operations for the US when needed? We know the Russians have not cut back on their covert operations. If anything they honed them in Chechnya and recently in London. Guess GW Bush will out source them to private contractors. The new enterprise can still carry the CIA initials, but in this case it will stand for CHRISTIANS IN ACTION. Colonel RE Bartos USA RET

Photograph: Bronze – Beelzebub Pensive

Friday, June 22, 2007

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down – But GW Bush not in Jericho

By any standard, the week that was signaled a disaster for US national security policy. The fact that SecDef Gates had to exit his air conditioned Pentagon suite for the fourth time since last December to visit sweltering, bloody Baghdad, tells us something is rotten in Iraq. With real time communications both visual and voice, why does the SecDef have to visit personally? His visits severely disrupt the command because of the extraordinary security arrangements required. If he is there to deliver another ho hum message to the Iraqi chieftains, forget it; they regard it as more hot air. Any threat to withdraw US troops if they fail to meet US benchmarks is music to their ears.

Gates landed to be greeted by a surge that is failing, a Green Zone with more sporadic rocket and mortar fire, and Baghdad, smoking under curfew. US casualties are rising, Baghdad morgues are filled with murdered tortured Iraqis, an F16 has crashed and, he is faced by the sheer incompetence of permitting more destruction to the Shiite Askariya Mosque in Samara. Insurgent attacks on US supply convoys have increased by 14.5% since May 10th. LTG Dempsey dutifully keeps fulfilling his goal to train and equip Iraqi forces, i.e. over 350,000, but he has not figured out to make most of them fight. For Gods sake at least teach them how to break down a door. Film clips always show US troops breaking doors with Iraqi troops, hanging back, furtively following after the American gate crasher.

To add to GW Bush's Rome is Burning scenario, his cooperation with the Israelis blew up in his face with the recent military success in Gaza by Hamas. Condoleezza and the Israelis forced an election in Gaza, but when Hamas won to their dismay, they proceeded cut off funds to the democratically elected party: Hamas. Opposition party Fatah was given funds and this backfired as Fatah was regarded as an Israeli and US tool, considered corrupt by many Palestinians. With Hamas fully in charge in Gaza, Israelis faced a totally hostile regime backed by anti Israeli forces and funds. Israeli febrile propagandists' hair is on fire claiming Hamas is an Israeli and US enemy. I am certain Hamas is an Israeli enemy, but Hamas is not a part of the 9/11 attack or Jihad in Iraq... America may want to reconsider taking on the many and proliferating Israeli enemies as their own. It was certainly a mistake in the bombing of Lebanon, done with US bombs, aircraft and diplomatic support at the UN. Noted that the Israeli Nuncio in the US Senate, Senator Leiberman, wants the US to attack Iran because of Iranian military aid to Iraqi insurgents. I am certain that the US is using sub rosa and pin point methods to deal with Iranian interference; it was done previously. We do not need a pro Israeli warmonger to tell the US what to do. FYI, Lieberman had three deferments during the Vietnam war, so he fits right in with Cheney and GW Bush. Like the Israelis, he wants badly for the US to go to war with Iran as they both did in Iraq.

It appears the US backing of the Christian parties in Lebanon is also backfiring as Palestinian gunmen stubbornly fight the Christian Army in the Palestinian refugee ghettos. I do not give a rat's ass who kills whom in their local dog fights, but it would be a positive sign for US policy if the US is neutral or backs a party other than Israel or loser Israeli clients in the Middle East conflicts. US failures in the region are a disastrous example of permitting Israel to make our policy there. There is an outside chance the situation can be defused if the Israelis solve the Golan Heights issue with Syria; much bitter water has gone over the dam and now this may not even work as Israel foolishly annexed the territory under Reagan's nose. But GW Bush should make a valiant stab at it. Olmert is in Washington this week to beg for more aid for Israel and corrupt Fatah. Bush should put strings on aid, e.g. fix the Golan Heights issue with Syria.

To the South of the US, Bush's inattentive policies in Latin America are bearing bitter fruit. El Presidente Chavez of Venezuela is democratically elected and is acting undemocratically. He has closed opposition TV stations, has instituted draconian private property laws and nationalized oil resources. Nationalized oil!! That should be enough to get the Bush oilmen stirred up, advocate war or cut their own wrists. Chavez with Castro's advice has figured out his days are numbered; once the US gets unstuck in the Middle East, one way or another the US has to go after him. To prevent this, El Presidente is off to Russia at the end of this month to meet Vladimir. In recent years, oil rich Chavez has bought about 4 billion worth of Russian military equipment including 24 Su fighter-bombers, 50 combat and transport helicopters, air defense systems and 100,000 assault rifles. Russia 's leading business newspaper recently reported that Chavez is talking with Moscow about buying between five and nine conventionally powered submarines – unknown whether they are attack, cruise missile or ballistic missile submarines. GW Bush, after he gulps, may want to chat about this when he meets Putin on 1 July 2007. Question is, does he do it before or after he tells Putin he intends to go ahead with US missile defense deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic?

Bush has run a one pony foreign policy show, i.e. the Middle East. The dice seem to be rolling in too many places; GW Bush must be held accountable for starting them in motion with thoughtless policies. His policies provided nesting for a militant Red Chinese Dragon in Panama and over the horizon in the Pacific. Iraq is a basket case. His September report from Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will be spun into a hypothetical exercise that delivers little hope, but will argue dire consequences if the US pulls out... About the only good short term news is that the US is arming Sunnis that could slow down the Iranian backed Shiites to take over of the whole country. The Shiite government opposes this.The Kurds as usual, are in trouble with the Turks who make incursions into Kurd areas. The Iraqi refugee situation has turned ugly. The US has to bring Israel under control to prevent it from committing more self destructive stupidities. Barak as new Israel Defense Minister may be sobering for Israel and bring some adult thinking into the Israeli policy instead childish delusions of the restoration of King David's Kingdom. And let us not forget that Bush with his agitated, boob neocons has foolishly baited the Russian Bear who now stands dangerously in a fighting position. Bombing Iran of course will result in bloody retribution to America in the theater as well at home... Colonel Robert E Bartos US Army RET
Photograph: Etching No se convienen by Francisco de Goya

Thursday, June 14, 2007

G8 Conference 2007 – GW Bush off the Ranch

GW Bush missed part the first day of the G8 conference in Rostow, Germany. Uncertain whether his upset stomach was diplomatic or from wolfing down too many rich German pastries mit schlag. Putin certainly rained on his parade with his counter proposal on Bush's missile defense proposals in Poland and the Czech Republic. Or maybe bad news from the Iraqi war front or the failure to pass his demented amnesty immigration bill in the Senate caused him to have a distressed stomach. Let us hope after a spoonful of soothing Pepto-Bismol our President will be back into the diplomatic fray.

His medical drama at the G8 meeting, raging anti-Bush demonstrators, and a few gaffes in Rome were not positive for Bush when wandering off his ranch. Be thankful he did not start WWIII. There was a moment of pathetic bravado in Albania as he promised the the Albanians an independent Kosovo which now is part of Serbia. He better be careful the Russians do not promise to give Mexico the states of Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Southern California, because the Mexicans occupied it through illegal immigration as the Albanians did in Kosovo. To be loved by Albanians is something – almost as good as being loved by Laplanders or Eskimos. Take what you can get – Albanian postage stamps with his image and a street named after him – that is more than he will ever get from the USA.

Bush may call Putin Vladimir but I am certain the Russians call Bush something far worse than Georgee Boy. From my personal experience, I know they called Hopeless Henry Kissinger all kinds of derisive names unofficially despite the fact that officially, the Russians intentionally flattered Nixon's emissary. Russians told me directly, off the record, that Hopeless Henry melted like a pat of butter in the hot sun when flattered. There must be some truth to this considering the seriously flawed pro-Soviet SALT I agreements and the ABM treaty Hopeless Henry brought home.

Whatever idiot who told Bush he could sell the missile defense program to the Russians with radars and interceptors stationed in Czech Republic and Poland as directed against Iran, should be fired. At this time I cannot believe there is consideration of Iranian missiles as a high threat to any European country by any European... Now, the interruption of the flow of Iranian oil, that is a different story.

Apart from their leadership, not only did the Czech and Polish man on the street deplore the missile defense system as raising tensions with Russia, and with all the controversy, the system simply does not not work. So it smacks of another military industrial complex boondoggle, much like the US strategic ABM defense system; this constitutes more sweet lemons, like the invasion of Iraq sold by GW Bush Inc. As far as unrest over the deployments, historically, the Poles seldom play follow the leader unless the leader is a Polish Pope – the good Soldier Schweik Czechs will follow as always like well fed sheep. Poles and Czechs soberly understand that if the system is deployed, it will be targeted by Russian air, missiles or SPETNAZ, i.e. special operations.

Opposing US deployments, Putin suggested to Bush that if the system is to be deployed against Iran, then the radars be aimed at Iran from south of Europe, he offered a Russian radar site in Azerbaijan to be shared by Russia. Putin also added the interceptors could be deployed at sea, or Turkey or Iraq. As a far as Iraq, Bush can barely hold the Green Zone or protect the police chiefs in Iraq. And the Turks surely do not wish to become a Iranian target. Seaborne missiles are a very expensive proposition and tie up costly naval forces on a continuing mission on a permanent basis. So Vladimir pumped the ball vigorously into Bush's court and caught the US flatfooted, and US is now playing defense.

Over the years I have learned. that there are many things that Russians tend to do badly, but on the other hand I learned that you do not mess with them when it comes to ballet, music, vodka, caviar, making soup and baking breads; and for certain, in the game of diplomatic chess, they seldom lose long term. As far as a real chess game, except for Bobby Fischer, they also seldom lose. Their gamesmanship in human intelligence collection is superb. Remember, CIA Ames and FBI Hansen spied for them? These swine cut deeply into US national security...

When serving in Russia, sometimes to break the routine, I played chess in the parks with old, retired workers and peasants; despite the fact I had played competitively in the Big Ten chess circles when a student, I never won a game from the randomly selected Russian opponents in over two years – so my hat's off there too. Vladimir is slated to meet Georgee Boy in Maine on July 1st, 2007 at Daddy Bush's Rancho Norte, so the saga will continue. The colossal stupidity of the whole issue is that the Russians can target and retarget their missiles quickly without detection. And without on site, around the clock inspections, who in the US Intelligence Community knows the Russian targeting in Europe? You have to assume it is NATO command and control, military installations, air defense, ports and large cities. The US intelligence record under GW Bush is abysmal. One thing for certain, the Russians trust the US as much as we trust them. That is ZERO. I would feel better if Bush called Putin VLAD THE IMPALER rather than just Vladimir... Mission Accomplished Bush tends to entangle himself in his own self delusions and goes astray. Have listened to Putin in Russian; he is intellectually very keen and has that KGB sense of quick decisive action – comparatively, GW Bush is just a man of action who tends to take the wrong action. Bush should be advised that Putin is a Cobra in a basket, always ready to strike...

While our President overcomes his dyspepsia in Europe and euphoric toasting by Albanians, big things have happened to his military establishment at home. General Pace, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, has been tossed over board by SecDef Gates, because he cannot be confirmed in the Senate for a renewed term as Chief. Pace did everything he could do for the Administration to hold on to the job. Disgustingly, he even sent a letter to the judge of Scooter Libby begging for the felon's mercy. Good riddance to Pace. His overeagerness to please the incompetent politicians did not serve the nation well. He was part of the Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Chalibi, Franks, Bremer sick gang that caused the disaster in Iraq. Apparently, a Naval officer will be the new head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with an Air Force officer as his deputy. This follows an appointment of a naval officer to head CENTCOM. To make the security situation fit our military leadership, now all the US has to do is to train the Jihadist to fight at sea or in the air! It is so bad. It makes any real US strategist want to weep... Bush's new military high command just complicated the problems for the US in asymmetrical warfare. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET
* Photograph: Painting The Aurora, 1917 by Evgeni Levin-ex collection

Friday, June 08, 2007

Messianic Democracy and its Failures

When GW Bush was elected to office the first time in 2000 the world was different. By the time he was reelected in 2004, the international situation had become more dangerous for Americans. The great irony of the 21st century will be that the American people voted for Bush the second time to protect themselves from perilous situations that Bush created or abetted. It was the same situation, albeit localized, in post Katrina New Orleans when the voters reelected Major Nagin, who had recklessly presided over the destruction of the city during the storm, naively expecting him to organize the complicated reconstruction. Like GW Bush, Nagin's failure to vitalize New Orleans proves old incompetence is a hard habit to break.

The 9/11 strike against the US was an enhanced replay of a fizzled previous Jihadist attack on the Twin Towers. There is plenty of data to support that our nation was caught flatfooted – that more alertness may have precluded the disaster. There was plenty of blame to share by all – military negligence, intelligence community, internal security and flaccid policy reactions by team Bush. Even the former Clinton administration feared its implication in the deadly events; so it sent Sandy Berger to the National Archives Building to stuff his underwear with incriminating documents. Fumbler that Berger is, he got caught and was convicted.

Internally Bush responded to 9/11 by bureaucratically creating a Department of Homeland Defense; up until today it has failed to protect our borders and ports from infiltration. It also failed miserably in Katrina. Bush further introduced new internal security arrangements that many decry as an invasion of personal freedoms. He also reinterpreted the Geneva Convention, broadened wire intercepts and involved the US in torture. Proponents of these measures argue they have protected the US from another terrorist attack. To date most of the so called planned attacks were keystone cop operations or fantasy. Some may be actual; the oncoming trials should tell the truth... As long as the Jihadist do not attack US soil, the American people seem to accept these changes and restrictions. But the moment they fail to stop an attack, expect a violent change of heart. Bush's big problem remains the insecurity of the borders which beckon to saboteurs.

Apart from his dangerous open borders, Bush now is preparing for the initial admission of 27,000 Iraqi displaced refugees into the US. Name one Western country where sizable Islamic minorities have not caused internal security problems or serious tensions. Bush is being pressured by Arab states near Iraq to take refugees from the war he started and now have poured by the millions into their adjacent countries.

Whereas Bush constricts democracy internally at home, he has a foreign policy that is externally based on promoting democracy abroad. This fixation to stick the world with the American democracy had its birth in the Bush administration with the serial failures in Iraq. Once the lack of WMD and links with al Qaeda, as well as the capture of Saddam undercut the continuation of the war, Bush tried to peddle the Democracy by the Sword concept in Iraq. The Neocon Elliot Abrams introduced GW Bush to Natan Sharansky, a former convicted Soviet Refusenik who Ronald Reagan traded for captured Soviet spies. Sharansky went to Israel, became part of the government and there became a heroic Zionist exponent for the Soviet Jewry. He clashed with Sharon and was politically sidelined in Israel. He wrote a turgid book, a non seller, called The Cause for Democracy: The Power of Freedom Overcome. About ten years after publication, Bush and Condoleezza officially promoted the book with the same zeal as the Chinese promoted Mao's little red book. Bush awarded Sharansky the Congressional Medal of Freedom; Sharansky toured the US on speaking engagements, even had a cream pie thrown in his face at an Eastern university. Have not heard a peep from him lately. His work became the theoretic underpinning of the Bush proliferation of democracy policy.

A tenet of the Sharansky doctrine is democratic countries do not make war on each other – before you believe this, better check this out with Palestine, Israel, the Lebanese, Chavez, and the so called Iraqi government. Further main US allies in the Middle East and Pakistan are not democracies and not hectored by Bush. Nor is Red China a democratic country. This messianic fervor for democracy has caused serious problems, especially between Russia and the US. The last time Bush was in Russia he publicly lectured Putin on democracy in Russia. Putin retorted: You mean like you have in Iraq? Bush relations with Russia are going from bad to worse. It started with the US abrogation of the ABM treaty followed by the neocons taking the Chechen side in the Russia/Chechen conflict. It developed further with the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe and US basing in Central Asia. This was followed by US interference in Ukrainian and Belarus internal affairs. Now Russia is to respond militarily to the proposed US placement of anti missile installations in Eastern Europe; so the coming Bush vs. the KGB Putin meetings are sure to be tense.

Remember those halcyon days at Bush's Crawford Ranch when Bush looked into Putin's rock hard KGB soul and absurdly saw a Christian brother who carried a cross from his mother. Well, Bush is going to have a meeting at daddy Bush's spread in Maine with Putin in July to recapture the president's old delusion. Meanwhile, Putin has struck out on his own. He is a big military partner of Red China, selling weapons and holding joint military exercises. Putin has reasserted Russian hegemony in Belarus and the Ukraine. He has announced a major military buildup fueled by high domestic oil profits, forced the US out of some bases in Central Asia and locked up energy deals with Central Asian republics that insure their integration into Moscow's energy networks. This will force the Europeans to deal directly with Moscow. Putin also holds the trump card on whether Kosovo remains Serbian or becomes the Republic of Kosovo.

You cannot help to wonder how the Bush administration seems to corrupt its foreign relations in world. Many of the problems stem from the brutal senseless war in Iraq and blind support of Israel. This is certainly the case with Iran and Syria. With Russia it was another issue that damaged relations. Oligarchs in Russia bought the oil and mineral resources in Russia from a drunk named Yeltsin – the oligarchs legally bought them for a nickel on dollar in terms of value. Yeltsin was paid in cash that came mainly from Jewish owned consortiums in Europe. Putin by hook and crook took these enterprises away from the oligarchs. He even jailed some of them. Though it was not a US affair, US neocons were outraged by this and decided to make Russia pay and have been at the root of focused democracy flack aimed at Russia. Was this Refusenik Sharansky's revenge carried out by US neocons? Bush was foolish enough to be party to it. Putin has over a 70% approval rate in Russia. That is certainly much higher than Bush in the US. We are at the edge of COLD WAR II. This is without question a US diplomatic failure of massive proportions. Given the problems with Jihadists, the US does not need Russia as an enemy. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET
* Photograph: Etching Si Sabrá más el discípulo? by Francisco de Goya

Friday, June 01, 2007

GW Bush is for the Birds – Extending his War in Iraq

Almost unnoticed during GW Bush's 24 May al fresco press conference in the White House Rose Garden was a direct hit on Bush's navy blue suit, right above his heart, by a determined Washington, DC pigeon that dropped his milky white bomb and escaped into the wild blue yonder.

Bush knew he had been hit and fussed with the bird dropping only to make the spot worse. He then bravely continued the conference spot and all. Had it been Ronald Reagan, he would have jokingly blamed the affront on a Democratic bird. Had Bush been up to his usual barnyard humor, he could have said, THANK GOD COWS DON'T FLY. Had just one member of the gathered press, noting the President's distress, blurted out with old Sam Donaldson temerity, MR PRESIDENT, FOR MOST PEOPLE THE BIRDS SING, that reporter would have insured himself a spot in the journalist Hall Of Fame. But no guts, no glory for this hopelessly earnest press corps.

These White House press conferences are usually more theater than substance. There is, however, a taped record that can be used to haunt the president when he flip flops. In this instance, you can expect GW Bush to perform verbal acrobatics over the issue of withdrawing troops from Iraq if requested by the Iraqi government. Replying to a question by a reporter, the president said categorically, the US would withdraw troops from Iraq if this request was made by the Iraq government. You can bet by the time he returned to the oval office there were calls from his in-house Israeli lobbyist, NSC Elliot Abrams and Senator Joe Lieberman, honorary representative of the Israeli Knesset, scolding the president for his withdrawal statement; Israel wants the US to remain there forever for its own security. You can assume Big Oil agrees, but for different reasons. Prior to this Bush press conference the usual Israeli mouthpieces were contending that the US regional interest precluded US withdrawal despite what the Iraqis wanted... So folks, let us watch Bush squirm as the Israeli lobby stuffs him back into their bag. My thesis will be soon tested; al Sadr, who has sizable control in the Iraqi parliament, is back in Iraq vitriolically calling for the US to end the occupation. His chief rival in the Shiite movement, Hakim, is sick with lung cancer in Iran, so al Sadr's power will be enhanced. Meanwhile Sunni and Shiite bodies are being stacked up in Baghdad morgues in large numbers (over 700 this month) as General Petraeus' surge sputters and dies with our US troops. Uncertain how long Petraeus' argument that the surge tactics require more risks, hence more US KIA, will be sustained; he certainly did not tell us that up front as he promoted the surge before Congress. In April the US lost 104 KIA and in May it is 122. Remember how Hopeless Henry Kissinger, the Neocons, and stand-and-die Republicans agitated and begged for one last chance – well, they got it despite most military wisdom to the contrary.

Another point made in Bush's press conference was that the US should expect more blood, sweat and tears in Iraq. No more silly neocon lies about being greeted as liberators of Iraq; no rice and roses, no just a few dead enders and no planted, glowing democracy. The president is right about his expectation; the extended Iraq funding bill he just signed amounts to a death sentence for about 1100 US KIA per year at current casualty rates. It may even be higher as Petraeus' tactics continue to fail. Bush's repeated focus on September as a do-or-die status report on Iraq, sets a goal for the insurgents to kill more and faster to influence the situation. SecDef Robert Gates recently complained about stress caused for him by signing letters of condolences to the families of US forces killed in action. Gates has no corporate experience; he is a paper pusher – never been shot at – and reached his position by never challenging superiors. He left academia to be SecDef. He seems surprised that he now is expected to do other things beyond kissing his superiors' asses and throwing spit balls; unlike Rumsfeld who had such letters mechanically stamped with his signature, let us hope Gates is at least personally signing them. Mr. Gates is certainly a decent man and is not a member of the GW Bush sick neocon gaggle. Hopefully, he will influence the national policy to get our men out of harms way in Iraq.

The situation surrounding the extension of war funds is strange. Apparently several different special interests were in play. The war extension bill had billions of dollars of PORK as well as a rider to raise the minimum wage. Cynics say the Republicans and Democrats are the same bird with different wings; in this case, it seems true.

Even anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan folded her tent with disappointment over the Democrats war stance. Property values in Crawford Texas will go up with her departure. Senator Webb, who recently won his seat by his anti-war stance voted for the war to be continued – Speaker Pelosi voted against it. Pro Israeli Senators Schumer and Coleman played chicken; voted neither for it or against it. Senators Biden, Levin, and Lieberman, as usual, voted a straight pro-Israeli ticket to continue the war; Senators Obama and Clinton, both having dreams of being president, voted against it to keep from being savaged by their anti-war base. Anti-war Representative Murtha voted for extending the war. We are awaiting his explanation of how he rationalized his vote. Perhaps the most absurd conduct was that of Republican House Minority Leader Boehner, who wept publicly over his vote to extend the war. Was he off his medication? Was he drunk? Or did it bother him that he signed death warrants on American troops? All this blather to support the troops? What more hideous propaganda can we expect next? None who voted to extend the war should sleep well at night. You support the troops by ending a poorly planned and executed, pointless war. Suggest this: the we-want-more-war politicians should watch an hour of Combat Hospital on CNN, visit Walter Reed, and attend military funerals before they vote again to extend this foolish war. You got to come up with a more concrete mission other than stop terrorism. As it appears now, seems we are at war in Iraq because we do not know what else to do. And by the latest reports, the Iraq war is fueling more and more terrorism; it is like termites spreading to adjacent areas as we unintentionally fertilize their nests in Iraq...

Still our undefended president faces insulting bird attacks when outdoors unless the Secret Service can erect a Palladium for his protection.There is always sure shot Veep Cheney with his fancy fowling piece to call to stand guard, but do we want our frothing VEEP positioned that temptingly close to President with a gun? Especially a man who has a reputation of shooting people when aiming at birds. No, that is a bad idea. There is always the environmental solution to introduce falcons into the White House air space; but we will have to be careful as these predatory winged avengers will attack the turkeys that abound there. Colonel RE Bartos USA RET
Photograph: Ceramic Pigeon by Goldschieder. Austria, 1920s