Friday, August 31, 2007

Ali Baba and the Thieves of Baghdad – GWB on Magic Carpet

The US cannot win the War on drugs, because there is too much profit involved to suppress the drug trade. The US cannot win the war on illegal immigration, because there is too much profit involved and will not close the borders and enforce the laws. The US cannot end the war in Iraq, because there is too much profit involved and the massive war spending has created its own powerful, self generating constituency to sustain the war, advocating that it continue open ended.

Mercantile morality that is used to justify nefarious deeds is not new in history. In war it takes on a bloody dimension as human beings are ground up in the pursuit of war profits. This greed was so bad during the Napoleonic wars that these merchants of death were caught and executed regularly. GWB appears to encourage a thieves’ market in Iraq by allowing no bid contracts, inept accounting procedures, failure to ensure completion of paid contracts, and negligence when protecting assets. One hundred twenty thousand private contractors existing under no military law and almost no civil law enforcement encourage even more bribes and corruption. Over 9 billion dollars remain unaccounted. This money along with 200,000 lethal small arms, body armor, and military equipment has just disappeared under the noses of the US occupation authorities. Unlike Bonaparte, GWB does not seem to be perturbed by the thievery, waste and abuse in his Iraq war. To date there have been very few convictions for corruption or dismissal of incompetents by the Administration. Even Congress has turned a blind eye on most of the squalid mess.

Spending over 4 billion a month, the fact is that war profiteering in Iraq is a major factor in the failure to end the war. How else can you explain the almost hysterical pursuit of the war when all justifications for war have proved to be untrue? US forces and diplomatic leadership in Iraq last week even backed away from Bush's messianic and lunatic democracy arguments. The Israel lobby and neocons still want the war to continue and are dug in against ending the surge. Fifteen million dollars has been earmarked by Freedom Watch, a private Republican support group to promote more war in Iraq using radio and TV advertising... Ari Fleischer, formally GWB's White House Press Secretary and an Iraqi war cheerleader, is in charge of the programing. Fleischer is a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and is reported to hold dual citizenship, despite the fact he was born in the USA. Who in the Freedom Watch has contributed the funds is unknown.

Fleischer's TV clips and radio spots focus on depicting seriously wounded US servicemen who plead with the public not to end the war for their sacrifices would be in vain. The exploitation of US servicemen as stage props in wheelchairs and with artificial limbs is disgusting – extending the war will senselessly increase their unfortunate number. As the Iraqi government self-destructs and falls apart, it makes it more imperative that no more US blood be shed for Bush's misguided war. Fleischer's advertising consists of timed spots that are dovetailed in with Bush's latest exhortations not to withdraw, based on anticipated carnage in Iraq if US forces depart. I wish, in this case, our President would concern himself over the welfare of US fighting men more than the threat of Iraq, as he keeps our troops in the crossfire of a vicious civil war. As Commander-in-Chief, Bush is expected to protect his troops and not employ them recklessly.

With the Petraeus/Crocker/neocon report looming, the Bush administration is concerned over bad news. A recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq predicts grim realities. Despite all the exaggerated, good news posturing, the SURGE has not provided the intended security for the Iraqi government to rule effectively, and has failed. US ground forces troop lists cannot provide current US force strength in Iraq much beyond Spring, 2008. General Petraeus is still averaging more than two troops killed in action a day. Even Republican Senator Warner is pressing the President on troop reductions. US troop commanders in Iraq understand that though they have cleared some areas of insurgents, the same insurgents will return when US forces move elsewhere. So troop reductions, which are on the horizon, could spell the loss of most gains made by an unsustainable SURGE troop level.

GWB apparently is now glued curiously to Iraq/Republic of Vietnam wars analogies. His first conclusion should be that they are both lost wars. The second is the that the defeat was hastened by the US inability to establish a stable government and reliable army and security forces. It will be an interesting next few weeks as the Administration attempts last ditch efforts to delay the inevitable: WITHDRAWAL. You can be certain the war profiteers will provide aid and comfort to keep the funding flowing as long as possible under the specious rubric of SUPPORTING THE TROOPS. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ghost Writing Petraeus’ Final Report
Wearing Rose Colored Glasses

Uncertain why GW Bush and his frenzied neocons not only want to write the Petreaus/Crocker 15 September report to Congress, but want Condoleezza and Sobbing SecDef Gates to deliver it. Does not seem to make much difference who in this cast does what to whom. According to recent polls, a majority of people do not trust General Petraeus to tell the truth. Condoleezza lost most of her credibility in her 9/11 testimony, with the rest of it swept away in her atomic mushroom cloud fulminations, used to promote the invasion of Iraq. By now most people realize Gates dutifully supported the GWB SURGE, so he is not going to undercut himself or the President – Gates' key to success has always been super loyalty; never, never to act smarter than your boss. His modus operandi has been certainly tested lately in his new position.

These are all intelligent people. Certainly to the person, they understand the Iraq war is lost. The generals, VEEP Cheney, and neocons are now blaming the Iranians for their inability to win the war in Iraq. One US General said that there are 50 Iranian military instructors training Iraqis in Southern Iraq. Wish the US general would quit whining about them – he has helicopters and 160,000 troops – go GET THEM or KILL 'EM. That the Iranians are providing infernal devices that kill Americans fighting in Iraq is a certainty. Once fighting such a war, this weapon supply should be ruthlessly interdicted, but bombing Iran as proposed by the excited neocons and promoted by Israel, will not stop the supply and employment of these weapons any more than the Israeli bombing of Lebanon stopped Katyusha rockets fired into Israeli or expedited the return of Israeli POWs. These Israeli soldiers still have not been returned. The US is losing the war in Iraq for many other reasons – try delusional military and political US leadership for starters.

Bombing Iran would cause even more deadly chaos in the region, much to be borne by US ground and sea forces in the area when Iran retaliates. That does not seem to trouble the US war-hawks and Israeli lobbyists; one thing they certainly understand is the price of oil will break 100 dollars a barrel. This devastating mercantile factor should hopefully make them hesitate to miscalculate in Iran as they did in Iraq.

GWB and his generals still do not seem to understand that the presence of US forces in Iraq provides the infrastructure for insurgency. Even more corrupting is the US arming of the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis; this makes the ongoing civil war even more deadly. The war in Iraq becomes more surrealistic by the moment as bloodshed through-out country increases, its people flee and the central government evaporates. The US is now up to its ears in death and destruction in Iraq; delusionally arguing it is there to fight al Qaeda in Iraq. Mr. Bush, if you want to fight al Qaeda, make a serious military effort in Afghanistan, the Hindu Kush and Waziristan.

Even Petraeus in a lucid interval admitted that political stability in Iraq was key to the defeat of the insurgency in Iraq. And that it was the function of the SURGE to provide security for political stability. This is as it was sold by the Administration to Congress and the American people. During the SURGE the opposite has occurred: the central government has stopped functioning. It was rejected by the Sunnis and the Parliament went on a month-long vacation. To make matters worse, Maliki wanted Petraeus relieved. As a result Maliki will be pushed aside as Bush searches for a new puppet who loves America more than Iran. Let's hear it for democracy and pipe dreams! . .
The 15 September report will point to the arming of Sunnis in Anbar as creating more stabilization and a positive result. This is a step that could have been made years ago however, its too early to assess the long term impact or to take bows. This policy has little to do with the SURGE tactics; it has everything to do with Saudi pressure to protect Sunnis. The latest military operation in Diyala province involved 10,000 US forces and planned on 6,000 Iraqis forces. Uncertain how many Iraqi forces really showed up. The results on this massive operation appear mixed – the US announced that Arab sheiks in the province signed loyalty oaths to insure security. If the Petraeus/Crocker/ Bush/Neocon report cited this as progress to Congress, it may be laughed out of the committee room. Oaths sworn under duress by Arabs to Coalition infidels are not recorded by Allah. If I had a seat on the congressional committee taking General Petraeus’ testimony, I would ask him when we could expect a revision to his counterinsurgency field manual, since the current one appears to be flawed and outdated.

One thing the report will certainly predict is that the civil war in Iraq will get more brutal if the US troops depart – which it may or may not... So far the strategic judgments on Iraq have been mostly flawed. The US already bears the guilt for wrecking Iraq and is making the situation worse daily, so withdrawal probably would make the situation better if Iraqis are forced to cooperate with each other or perish. That would be a quantum change from the tribes self-righteously blaming the US for their continued misery. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET

*Photograph: Etching La Ratram ne la Paque de MAHOMETANS

Thursday, August 16, 2007

GW Bush on August Break – Mars in Charge

Afghani Karzai, Russian Putin and French Sarkozy have recently visited the US. The Frenchman and the Russian were treated to a visit to Rancho Norte at GW Bush's father's spread in Maine. Karzai did not make Maine Camp David Two, probably because he expressed something positive on Iran. Given Iraqi Maliki was recently spotted holding hands in Tehran with Ahmadinejad, had he come to town, he probably would have had to stay in a pitched tent in Lafayette Park and fed cold C-rations.

Ever since the senior Read My Lips Bush vomited at a banquet during his visit to Japan, the Bushes have not been noted for their exotic cuisine. In Maine, I read about menus composed of toasted cheese sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers, so Karzai did not miss much. If Daddy Bush gagged at the sight and smell of eel skin wrapped sushi, what do you think happened when GWB saw his favorite puppet off the string, Maliki, cavorting in palaces of Persia, hand in hand, with that Holocaust Denier, the evil Ahmadinejad. It must have upset and bent him over for days. Rejected? The pangs of despised love? His neocon pals are even worse off – most are seeing their retainer psychiatrists. You can bet they are now plotting another regime change for their current democratically elected Shiite leader of Iraq.

This Iraqi/Iranian Entente is a serious blow to the Bush occupation. It was always in the cards as Iraqi Shiites and Iranian Shiites, having adjoining borders, are members of the same Islamic brotherhood; political fusion would come sooner or later after GW Bush's dumb invasion of Iraq. What is surprising for President Bush is that Maliki did not wait until GWB left office to make the move to his Iraq/Iranian Co-Prosperity Sphere. At Bush's last press conference, he was asked what he intended to do about Maliki's wayward ways. He replied jokingly that he would DUKE IT OUT WITH HIM. Well, the last time I tried that in a bar brawl 35 years ago, I ended up with a chipped front tooth. Bush will have greater issues than that, once he inadvertently unites all the Iraqi Shiites against him in a whirling suicidal mass attack against US forces.

My sense is the Maliki government exists only on paper; Sunnis walked out of his government. The US arming of Sunnis forced the issue now. General Petraeus is killing el Sadr militia and Maliki is unable to protect it, so the situation is boiling. As far as the Petraeus/Crocker report, it is on its 95th draft as Bush, his neocons, Crocker and Petraeus keep rewriting it to conform at least marginally to the rapidly changing real situation. One thing for certain, the Iraqis do not have the same benchmarks as the US. Even our beloved Kurds do not want to privatize oil, which would permit Big Oil to play and compete against OPEC. Petraeus has 160,000 troops and another 120,000 private contractors that provide security, logistics, intelligence and combat service support. If he cannot put down the insurgency with that force, he will surely end up in the General Westmoreland Hall of Fame of Lost Wars. Or even possibly, if he gets careless, the General Custer Museum of Lost Battles. Petraeus has to be careful. The insurgents are blowing up key bridges to limit US mobility of its armored vehicles.

Recently, this year so far, the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan has brought a 25% increase in in attacks on NATO forces. For example, one fortified NATO position in Southern Afghanistan was hit three times in a few weeks by frontal attacks. In terms of statistical lethality, Afghanistan now matches Iraq in KIA NATO forces. The Taliban uses roadside bombs and suicide bombers. Their forces operate from sanctuaries in Pakistan. NATO forces were cajoled into operations by the US by arguing it was less dangerous to fight in Afghanistan than in Iraq. NATO was expected to do its duty as members in the alliance, but has now learned it got more vicious than it expected. Participation was designed to be a division of labor: Germans to train the police forces; Italians to develop a judicial system; and the English to interdict narcotics traffic. The US was to train the Afghan Army and take the Taliban on in combat along with help from the Canadians and Dutch. Despite the fact the English have overall command authority, each country has its own rules of engagement, many of which inhibit combat operations – the division of labor has led to serious coordination problems. The English commander recently complained that the US has caused civilian collateral damage with its bombing and inhibits support of the Afghan people. NATO's record on the ground in Bosnia was abysmal. Napoleon always preferred to fight against coalitions. The Bosnian Serbs appreciated this also, and now so does the Taliban.

Despite the goofy claims by Bush about al Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Pakistan border areas remain the epicenter of jihad and terrorism. As far as al Qaeda in Iraq, it is estimated that it amounts to 7% of the insurgency. And it is sustained there, ironically, by the presence of US troops. When Bush invaded Iraq, he shifted main combat elements to Iraq from Afghanistan – these were mainly the best special operations troops and most Predator drones equipped with Hellfire missiles – any real nation building was starved for funds. This is now changing. Funds earmarked for Afghanistan jumped from 3 billion to 9 billion this year; that is what is spent in Iraq in about two months. What do you expect? There is no oil in Afghanistan. Karzai has another money problem: the war lords do not turn over duties collected at border crossings to the central government. There is not much the green caped Karzai can do about it but declare, IT IS NOT FAIR...

General Musharraf is having serious problems holding on to power in Pakistan. He wanted to declare martial law and refused to attend a tribal meeting in Kabul. Condoleezza talked him into attending at least the last day of the meeting and not declaring martial law. Musharraf is a crafty leader, so I was surprised he took Rice's advice. Condoleezza is never right – Musharraf will lose power within the year. He hates Karzai, who is backed by the Afghan Northern Alliance, which is supported by his arch enemy, India.

You would think the American people would get their money's worth with two US Bush presidents meeting together with Putin and Sarkozy separately, but remember zero plus zero still equals zero, despite what the Bushs' neocon fan club insists. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Guns or Butter?
GWBush Chooses Guns

It was as if an ancient angry river god brought his fist down hard: first at the south end of the Mississippi River at New Orleans with Katrina, and now on a major bridge across the same river in the north, in Minneapolis. In both cases damage was multiplied by under maintained infrastructure – in one case levees and the other a high capacity bridge. In both instances authorities knew the weakness in the infrastructure but allocated maintenance resources elsewhere, to other projects... The Bush administration with Congress were certainly warned by Katrina, but no priority national programs were instituted to repair the nation's aging infrastructure.

On October 5, 2005, I published an Op-ed in the Baltimore Sun. It was titled, Unrealistic Mission in Iraq. It made three points: (1) General Petraeus was fired at that time, because after a major effort he could not produce ready to fight Iraqi forces; (2) Iraqi forces would not be reliable no matter how much US training and equipment they received; and (3) Bush had to make a national decision on priorities in the wake of Katrina on whether to continue to spend more money in Iraq or on the rebuilding of his damaged country – he could not do both. Now we know, he chose Guns over the Butter.

Nearly two years after I wrote the article we find General Petraeus has returned to Iraq with another star on his shoulder to take charge of military operations. General Dempsey, who replaced him in 2005 and took charge of training Iraqi security forces is still in Iraq, also has another star, plus a headquarters full of charts demonstrating that he gloriously fulfilled his mission training Iraqi forces. The problem is that after spending 19.2 billion dollars, these forces routinely do not show up for battles. Dempsey has the same problems Petraeus had in 2005. General Dempsey additionally cannot put his finger on 200,000 small arms issued to Iraq security forces. These losses occurred mainly on Petraeus' previous tour when he was in charge of Iraqi security training; one reason he was sent home early.

Why Petraeus was reassigned to Iraq to replace General Casey who was not a howling success in the occupation, is open to speculation. The fact that General Casey was assigned as the prestigious Chief of Staff of the Army after his failures in Iraq, just tells me that there were not a lot of choices – either other Army generals did not want the job or they were worse picks than Casey. Another factor was that Casey had been house broken by the Bush administration and would not embarrass it at the Pentagon. For many of the same reasons Petraeus was pulled from a dead end school assignment at Ft. Leavenworth to take charge of the occupation in Iraq. Much was made of the fact by the Senate and Administration that Dr. General Petraeus, with the help of the US Marine Corps, coauthored a field manual on counterinsurgency, as if this qualified him for an important combat command. If Petraeus was sent to this command for his professorial qualities, run for the door. Most leadership, civilian or military, understands you never give professors authority assignments based on their ability to write books. They just try to bend reality to fit their concepts. Look what happened with Dr. Hopeless Henry Kissinger when he was trusted with authority.

Totally mismanaging the Iraq war, blindly following neocon sick leadership, and turning its responsibilities over to private contractors, is the sad Army leadership that brought us Abu Ghraib, the Pat Tillman affair, the horror at Walter Reed and corruption. Do you really expect it to win a victory in Iraq, especially under Dr. Petraeus? Is that the best we have? By now the American people should have figured out that Army leadership does not know what it is doing. There is lots of tarnish on blade for these men, most of whom came from the national military cadet milieu who profess to be sworn to duty, honor and country.

Petraeus now has a dubious distinction: a request has been made that he be removed from his duties by the shattered Maliki Iraq Government. In the last month US KIA went down to 79, but the dead Iraqis and Iraqi security forces were at their highest levels. So surging Petraeus has not brought security. Reportedly 8 million Iraqis are at the edge of disaster. Baghdad is without reliable water and electricity. The population is desperate. Petraeus was forced by official Saudi intervention to begin arming Sunni chieftains and their minions – Saudis were alarmed by the fact that the US trained and equipped Shiite forces were going to to slaughter the lesser armed Sunnis. The US had to accede to Saudi pressure. Petraeus uses as a fig leaf the explanation that these US Sunni paid and equipped forces are to be used to fight al Qaeda in Anbar province.

At least in the short term some Sunni insurgents have stopped killing Americans; whether they kill their brother Sunni al Qaeda remains to be seen. The long term effects are hard to calculate as the US is busy developing the forces on both sides of the sectarian warfare – these new regional steps by the US have undermined the central Maliki Shiite government and that is why Maliki wants Petraeus out. Petraeus is not a soldier/diplomat in the Maxwell Taylor mold by a long shot. He is just another uncritical element of the long gray line produced on the Hudson that eagerly salutes with both hands. This arming of the Sunnis by the Americans may presage an ethnic partition as a final US solution for Iraq. Brookings Institution staffers recently have published a rosy scenario on the US baptism of Sunni insurgents into the coalition of the willing – must be time for consideration of government grants. The same two authors were promoters of the Iraqi war earlier and now, just should be dismissed as stay the course Bush propagandists.

On September 15th Bush promised a report on progress in Iraq by the ambassador and key US general in Iraq. Given the Administration’s hyperbolic promotion of this Petraeus/Crocker report, the anticipation is almost like waiting for a new Coke to be introduced. By now we have figured out the report. GW Bush and Senator McCain test the lines everyday. Barring the fall of the Green Zone to insurgents, the report will not be definitive, something ambiguous, i.e., a good and bad things report. There will be a request for more time to turn the endless corner and a depiction of more horror if we depart. It is hard to imagine more horror than exists in Iraq today. About the only bright spot in Iraq since the fall of Saddam has been the Asian cup soccer win by the Iraqis. The Iraqi team had to train in Jordan to be safe. First thing out of the mouth of the the Iraqi who scored the winning goal was YANKEE GO HOME and I believe that is a good suggestion. Why not let the Iraqis figure it out? The US presence makes things worse there by the day for all sides.

Apart from the blood and fury of the war that continues unabated; the cost of the Iraq war is projected to reach a trillion dollars in 2008. The collapse of the interstate bridge in Minneapolis was the result of a failure to spend money nationally on infrastructure by federal and state governments. The link between war spending and spending on infrastructure was dramatically illustrated by the heavy TV coverage of the bridge collapse. The fact the 2008 Republican convention is planned in Minneapolis gives disaster a poetic retribution spin. The next time a bridge falls, a school bus may just not teeter, but plunge. Stop spending billions on the Iraqi, now! PUT AMERICA FIRST Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET

Photograph: Etching by Francisco de Goya

Friday, August 03, 2007

Outsourced Government of GW Bush

Hopeless Henry Kissinger's trip to Russia last week was a clear signal that Condoleezza's State Department has been outsourced to Kissinger Associates Inc. Even worse, the Department of State may be working for Hopeless Henry... Well, GW Bush has de facto outsourced the Department of Defense to private contractors, his Department of Justice to inept Republican Party boobs, his Treasury Department to the Chinese, his Department of Agriculture to Mexico and his National Security Staff to Israel. Perhaps Mr. Bush believes the US government just will whither away to be replaced by global conglomerates and special interests.

Kissinger was accompanied to Russia by a gaggle of mostly ex important people who resist fading away, like good politicians and bureaucrats should. He took investor George Schultz, former SecState under Reagan, who was not quite all there when he had that job – last time I heard about him was that he was running around nude at camp fires in the California wilderness showing off his tattoos. Former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin under Clinton is still a Wall Street man of substance who understands how the money works in the world and was there to hold Henry's hand if rubles, and stock and bond issues were mentioned. Former senator Sam Nunn went along too – way past his prime, but certainly a serious stable brand name on national security issues. Oil man David O’Reilly from Chevron Oil made certain that energy was on the agenda for Big Oil. Arms control expert Tom Graham went along, but unless he had the latest Russian Strategic Forces order of battle, uncertain whether he could contribute much more than on process issues. Under any circumstance, the new Russia is different from the old Soviet one, as well as smarter, richer and more economically organized. Kissinger was even a flop in that old venue, so keep your expectations low with his new foray.

Kissinger of course promoted the Iraq war. Apart from providing GW Bush bad advice on a weekly basis, e.g. LET’S DO THE SURGE, Henry is advising presidential hopeful Senator John McCain on international relations. Each week Bomb Bomb Bomb McCain's prospects plummet; part of his disaster is hewing to the Kissinger line on the Iraq war. Kissinger, a Jewish American German, is a dedicated mouth piece for Israel. Nixon once asked him for his view on the Middle East. When Kissinger finished, Nixon asked him now what is the American viewpoint? For a man who is consistently wrong, Kissinger stays powerful: in the fray, pumped up by his rolodex, and his ability to drop names and his connections with the media. And he charges a high price for his services. Last time I saw Henry on TV he was being coached on CNN by Wolf Blitzer, who is a former employee of the Israeli Lobby (AIPC). At that time, always hard to follow with his thick German/Yiddish accent, Henry was next to incoherent. It was apparent he needed a caretaker or nurse. To get Henry to Russia and back, they must have had a cryogenist on the delegation – maybe the same one used on Ted Williams.

Condoleezza is a total failure on Russian/US policy. Ironically, she was touted by the neocon media as a Russian expert, who even spoke the language. Having a Russian language capability, I was always eager to listen to the quality of her Russian. Over the years, I have never heard a peep of it from her, but I have heard GW Bush's Spanglish as he tries to humor the Mexicans. When GWB does this, it is like putting a screw driver in the Mexican's ear. Withdrawing from the flawed Kissinger negotiated ABM treaty, Bush pushed the Russians hard by running NATO up to its borders, hectoring the Russians incessantly on democracy, interfering in internal affairs in Belarus, Ukraine and Chechnya and installing strategic missile defenses in Poland and Czech lands. There also have been flash-points as the Russians protected its client Iran. Russia, now rich on petrol rubles, announced an 80 billion defense buildup, kept Kosovo Serbian, became a major arms supplier to the Red Chinese and Chavez, and most recently abrogated its conventional arms treaty in Europe. Within the last few months, much to the US and European dismay, Russia managed to snag oil and natural gas in Central Asia to be incorporated into Russian energy networks that will supply Europe.

A visit by Kissinger and delegation had to be sanctioned and probably bankrolled by GW Bush, who by this time has figured out that his old pal Vladimir is getting the best of him – when the Austrians in the last round voted for the Russians for 2014 Winter Olympics over the US client state South Korea, that was blow to US influence. For Austria to favor the historically hated Russia in this lessor political battle just demonstrates how much ground the US has lost internationally under Bush. We do not know the agenda of the delegation. We know it is scheduled to meet again next December. There has been an effort to keep the proceedings confidential, but do not be concerned; Kissinger got to where he is by selectively leaking to the media, and tiger cannot change his stripes. We will know what Henry wants us to know soon. In any case you can bet your ass that it will promote Kissinger Associates Inc.

My guess is the purpose of visit was to offer the Russians US capital to develop their energy resources and attempt to defuse US/Russian military confrontations – there may even be proposals to give the Russians a slice of the Iraq oil pie for cooperation in postwar Iraq. And that may be one reason for the ex-official approach without US Government fingerprints. Oil and Gas pipeline proposals from Central Asian energy fields to the Black Sea or the Bay of Bengal just might have been discussed. There is also the unconfirmed proposition that the US intends to bomb Iran or Pakistan tribal areas and Russian reaction was discreetly probed. There are now three carrier task forces in the Gulf area, so something eventually is going to break loose – as Napoleon said: You can do anything with bayonets except sit on them.

Kissinger recklessly advocated to Nixon that the US continue the Vietnam war long after it was lost to include the bombing of Laos and Cambodia. Thousands of Americans were lost during this period as Henry carefully choreographed his Noble Peace Prize. This is the same guy now who is advocating to GW Bush that the war continue in Iraq after it is lost. He also wants to bomb Iran. Kissinger is a merchant of death. His specialty is solving bloody crises he has created. Who knows? He may be grasping for an oak leaf cluster on his Nobel Prize...

When Hopeless Henry passes on to his final negotiation in the sky, there should be a great sigh of relief and rejoicing in the USA over the death of the Grim Reaper. At the same time in Israel, there should be grief and national mourning since Israel lost its great champion who succeeded to have Americans foolishly spend and die for the Jewish state's security. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA RET

* Photograph: Etching Para que esconderlo by Francisco de Goya