Thursday, January 31, 2008

Betwixt the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea – US Presidency

That the candidates offered to the US voters are underwhelming is an understatement. Sure, to use a basket ball metaphor, we are just in the regional playoffs, but any two that make the finals are still a choice between two awful alternatives. Perhaps if the candidates offered a slate of their key appointments that would help determine whether the candidate had even the remotest chance of succeeding in office. Remember GW Bush brought in the insidious neocons which now are understood as Machiavellian dilettantes who managed to set US national interests back twenty years.

BILL'S WIFE HILLARY – you should have figured out you reelected Bill Clinton if you vote for his spouse. Uncertain what credentials Ms. Clinton brings to the table. Like her husband she has fed at the public trough all her adult life. She is a master at converting public policy into campaign contributions. To think of her as Commander Chief is as bad as having her draft dodging husband Bill or sometimes National Guard officer GW Bush holding that authoritative baton. Mr. Clinton's national security record was not commendable, so Lady Clinton stands on quick sand if she promotes this as experience. Bill had two African embassies blow up as well as the USS Cole – his Balkan War is a bad joke that will be revisited soon. He blew up an innocent aspirin factory in Sudan and resulted cutting off leads to bin Laden terrorists. Some of the Tommy Hawk missiles fired into a Jihad camp in Khost, Afghanistan were unexploded and sold to the Chinese by the terrorists for 10 million. It was no wonder Sandy Berger, his former NSC chief, was sent to stuff his underwear with incriminating documents from national archives bldg. after he left office.

OBAMA is probably the brightest in the political field on both political sides. He has enough sense to end the occupation of Iraq soonest, but his domestic policies hinge on massive federal programs... his immigration policy is pure amnesty for illegals. His embrace by the Kennedys may help him with the liberal wing of the Democratic party, but those who remember JFK's serial failures in foreign policy, will run fast in the opposite directions. JFK is still a choice between the man and the myth. My understanding of his history is that he is more myth. Nikita Khruschev's assessment of JFK after meeting him in Vienna was that he was naive. Afterwards the Soviets built the Berlin wall and locked up Cuba. At best, at this stage Obama is a brilliant orator, and a civil rights lawyer – the man has great potential, but will white people vote for him in substantial numbers is still at issue.

ROMNEY was best characterized by Huckabee as a man who strips the skin off his fried chicken. Unlike the runt Bomb Bomb McCain or Huckabee's coal miner mien, Romney presents himself as a urbane gentleman who is welcome in most perfumed Republican salons – no dirt under his finger nails. Problem is the man has no core political values and is an unabashed pragmatist. He has his strange Mormon angel Moroni hovering over him who may snatch him unpredictably to never-never land. Romney is totally adjustable and that his is asset – if you ever needed a puppet president, he is your man and that also is his liability. Unlike GW Bush, he would pick more qualified people to run the country; in his selection, he would emphasize talent over political reliability or loyalty. Romney may want to consider tweaking his clean cut image by not shaving for a couple days, wear snake skin cowboy boots and start chewing tobacco.

BOMB BOMB McCAIN – with him you get two for one like with the Clintons. In his case you also get Senator Joe Lieberman who would insure the Israeli Lobby continues to be a mordant influence in the White House. Both McCain and Lieberman are misfits in their parties. They seemed fused together based on the antipathy of their parties. McCain has been given a free ride by liberal press as from time to time he undermined GW Bush. McCain's military record as a POW will now come under heavy scrutiny by Democrats if he heads the Republican ticket. Do you want a president who broke under enemy torture when other POWs did not? McCain appears physically fragile. Doubt he could finish his term without incapacitation, so a vice president selection is more important in his case more than any other candidate.

HUCKABEE supports McCain and most likely would end up as McCain's choice for VEEP. Huckabee is a Holy Roller and would balance a secular McCain on the ticket and bring joy to the Republican base. Personally, I like Huckabee, especially if he could be limited to say JESUS CHRIST IS MY SAVIOR to only once a day. Unlike McCain, he has not been trained to bomb people.

BETWIXT THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA means that any choice is bad. If it is an choice between Bill's wife and Bomb Bomb McCain, let us hope they both lose. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

Friday, January 25, 2008

GW Bush's State Of The Union – 2008

To survive in Washington DC, an astute politician learns never to recognize a problem unless he has a solution. By law and custom GW Bush is required to deliver a State of the Union speech this January. What is he to do? He has plenty of problems and he has no solutions.

Guess he could announce mission of winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan unaccomplished... that Bin laden remains as free as a bird composing lyric poetry somewhere over the rainbow while he plots the destruction of the USA. There is no applause line here, but he could bring the Congress down with joy if he reminds it that this is his last State of the Union address and that he has less than a year to serve as president.

Pick your topic, whether national security, economics, GWB's political party, social justice, law and order and you find quickly that it is in an almost disastrous funk. Nothing seems to work right.

Chinese still do not own our oil wells or mines, but some may argue that they do own our banks. Investment organizations are more and more scooped up by Arab consortiums. Russians are still not directing traffic in our cities or controlling our nuclear stockpiles. And most importantly the US has not been hit by a major terrorist attack. So our president can argue things can be worse. He be can make up any doomsday scenario and claim he prevented it from happening..Despite the damage his policies have inflicted on the US, he deserves credit that the Jihadists have not hit the US since 9/11. The president can claim credit for this, but Bush still has 11 months to go in office, so let us hope his luck holds – at least he would record one success in his 8 years in office.

Hopefully the post GW Bush administration will do a top-to-bottom review of national security policy. New courses have to be charted as it is clear the old ones have endangered the US and have destroyed the country economically.

Bin Laden and his followers are not going to whither away. Military tactics centering on expensive huge fire bases, complicated logistics have failed in Vietnam and most certainly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dropping 500 pound bombs, firing cruise and tomahawk missiles as a substitute for engaging the enemy on the ground seldom works. After the failure of British colonial expeditions and the destruction of Russian forces in Afghanistan, Bin Laden did his best to entice the US into ground combat there. He figured there was no way for any foreign force to win in that god forsaken country. Reports indicate that the two US African embassy bombings and the attack on the US ship Cole were designed to commit US to war in Afghanistan. When that did not work the Jihadists pulled 9/11. Not only did the US go to war in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq, so bin Laden got two wars for 9/11 which played into his hands. He now has insurgents recruited from North Africa, mainly Libya, as well as the usual Saudi contingents, all of whom want be martyrs. The tribal areas are keeping the Taliban and el Qaeda ranks filled in the Pakistan/Afghan theater. Musharraf is holding on by his teeth as the US does its best foolishly to force democracy into that 60 year old, pasted together anarchical country.

The US Army and Marines remain configured mainly to meet and destroy modern organized ground forces. Apart from the US, the top three contenders on this fight card are Russia, China, and India. Chances of fighting these nuclear powers in the next decade are slim, so US forces must stop emphasizing tank and artillery heavy divisional units. Special operations should compose over half the ground forces – designed around light, air assault, airborne strike forces that do not attempt to hold ground; go in and get out. Sustained operations as now employed in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are doomed to collapse from their own torpid weight – the longer troops remain, the deeper they dig in and the less flexibility develops as housekeeping becomes more sophisticated – fixated with flush toilets, air conditioners and bottled spring water.

The State of the Union is not healthy. Prospects for its robust improvement is not positive as political candidates promise variations on the same themes. For example, the people of New Hampshire with a state slogan, LIVE FREE OR DIE voted for big government, super bureaucrat Hillary Clinton who will certainly limit their choices and freedom; the same state voted for John McCain who promises more war, so may it get its wish to DIE. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It is the War Stupid

Chicken Little ran around in circles squawking THE SKY IS FALLING. Poll driven presidential candidates are now jumping through hoops trying to fix the economy with platitudes, because the electorate is suffering from high gas, food, medical aid, heating fuel, and unemployment; all reflected in a sinking stock market. As the dollar sinks on the world market, costs of US goods becomes more expensive to produce. Democrats and Republicans are thinking about a 100 billion dollar bailout. This would drive the country deeper in debt. It ignores the root causes of Bush's failed economy: the Iraq War...

Figure it out yourself. President Clinton left a 127 billion dollar surplus. GW Bush not only plowed through that to build a 160 billion declared deficit, but failed to account for his trillion dollar war expenditure off budget. So the deficit realistically is three or four times as much. The American people may not understand this, but the bankers of the world understand it well. And this is reflected in the historic low dollar exchange rates.

Like trying to defy gravity, Bush Cut Taxes which limited his ability to fund his wars. He complicated the situation by shipping jobs overseas encouraging the destruction of the income producing US manufacturing base by signing a trade deal not in the US economic interests.

His voodoo economics appeared to hinge on the state capitalism generated by the war profits and money from secondary financing of home equity financing. Both blew up in his face. There was very little trickle down from the war profiteers and the second mortgage market collapsed under pressure of higher adjusted interest rates.

Democratic critics of the Iraq war seemed to have bought into the myth that the surge is working. If this is the case why do Bush and Bomb, Bomb McCain want to stop drawdowns of troops? Why did General Petraeus just drop 40 thousand pounds of bombs near Baghdad? Insurgents have remorselessly been picking off members of Patraeus' Awakening Councils. As of 16 January 22 US troops have been killed this month. Bush goes to Israel and publicly disputes the latest findings of the Iran National Intelligence Estimate. You got to wonder where the man gets his intelligence. He tried British intelligence in his Yellow Cake fiasco and it wrecked his credibility. He better get home soon.

Its been reported that over 25 American Kurdish oil exploitation deals have been signed. Without an agreement from the Iraqi central government, these deals are illegal. This signals the death of Saddam's Iraq and the birth of GW Bush's Iraq. There is no way Bush will permit these deals to be walked back. When was the last time you heard Bush bleating on democracy in Iraq? If Bush has his way the occupation of Iraq is permanent. If Bomb Bomb McCain is elected, he will make it the 51st state.

The democrats are in the main fellow travelers to this policy. There is no acceptable excuse the democratic congress did not stop war funding. It costs the US over 12 billion a month for the Iraq war – the war is replete with waste, abuse and corruption. For example a huge US embassy was built in Baghdad. It is four times the size of the Pentagon. It cost 736 million dollars and it is a fire trap – no inspection agency will authorize occupancy. It was built under State Department supervision. Condoleezza cannot even build an embassy.

It is obvious the Iraq war spending is the basic cause of the deficit that drives the US economic woes.. This problem was enhanced by the tax cuts and the economic damage caused by rampant globalization.

During the Savings and Loan scandal years ago, a Texan was called into court to explain the expenditure of over 3 million dollars. He explained he spent a million on Women; a million on dope and booze and the last million, he just pissed away. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Apotheosis of Obama and Huckabee – Snow Angels in Iowa

Winner in the Iowa Caucuses was divinity. Two preachers, Huckabee by training and Obama by temperament, snagged the winning crowns for their parties nomination in the snow fields of Iowa. That is enough normally to scare and to drive a secular guy like me to despair; that is, unless you consider the consequences of their frightening opposition winning.

Romney is a boy scout. The poor guy does not even know how to throw mud-balls without getting dirty. He spent piles of money while his main opposition, Rev/Gov Huckabee, worked the media for free advertising. Huckabee was far more clever. He charmed the media like a snake charmer makes a Cobra do his bidding. There is no question he made foolish mistakes on foreign policy. When the media confronted him with questions, he just blew them off with a smile – he even managed to put light between himself and GW Bush's pathetic foreign policy. At the same time Romney followed the Bush party line to the an agonizing "T". Romney is old wine in an old bottle and you can understand why he is the Republican establishment favorite. Huckabee is new wine in a new bottle – much too harsh for a delicate Republican palate. Romney uses Jeb Bush as his celebrity pony, while Huckabee use a sweaty unshaven "B" grade film/TV actor Chuck Norris. When a journalist told Huckabee that journalists have their own opinions of politicians, Huckabee retorted that politicians have their own opinions of journalists. Doubt Romney would have answered that way unless he had vetted the reply with his expensive group think staff.

Bill's wife Hillary had a tough time in Iowa with both Edwards and Obama. She finished behind both of them in third place. Later she stated in New Hampshire that the people of Iowa are always difficult for Clintons and she expected more understanding from the people of New Hampshire. Oh yeah! The lady's problem is that people understand her – they understand the concept of fractured ego; i.e.: internal values formed by always changing to conform to external forces, so in the end you have no internal values except opportunism. It became obvious as the campaign went on that her main support was bought and paid. She was used as a meal ticket. Her celebrity pony was Magic Johnson, a guy with a few head problems himself. When that did not work, she brought in mums, Chelsea and wandering Bill. What happened to black loyalist Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Rangel? They certainly were not passing out VOTE OBAMA pamphlets.

Obama is messianic. He is not a trained preacher, but his sermonizing comes naturally. He speaks from bottom of his soul. He is intelligent and charismatic. His set speeches are riveting, but his debate performances are less effective. He is more a prophet than a God – a John the Baptist for Christ or a Mohammed for Allah. My sense is that unlike Huckabee, 9/11 Rudy, Bomb Bomb McCain, or Edwards, he cannot go for the jugular vein if demanded. Dementedly, Bomb Bomb always goes for the jugular vein, but usually the wrong one.

Oprah Winfrey is Obama's celebrity pony and has made a positive difference in his bid for president. At this point I believe Obama's appeal to white voters is over rated and not fully tested. His success so far have been in two states where there is a very small Afro American minority. Whether this can be sustained in states where the black minority is greater and racial tensions are more intense is yet to be be determined. No one in the media seems to have addressed this point.

Change is the magic word to characterize the presidential election. Bill's wife Hillary would have us believe electing a woman represents change. Social engineers in the media try to convince us that electing an Afro American is change. Both postulations are equally absurd as they represent vessels for change. Change is end the war in Iraq. Protect ports and borders. Stop the bleeding of US industry and jobs sent overseas. Stabilize the dollar. Smash the international Jihadists in their tracks. Develop détente with Russia. Kick the Chinese ass in trade. Send the illegal aliens home. By Bush standards this is a call for Utopia; by national interest standards, it is a call for survival.

Based on the Iowa caucuses, a child asked his father what he should do to become President of the United States. Father responded, STUDY DIVINITY. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

P.S.: FYI Bomb Bomb McCain's celebrity pony is independent Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman, aka: Israeli Nuncio to the US Senate. Let us hope that he blights McCain's presidential run as he did Al Gore's.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Death in Rawalpindi – Bhutto Dies Hard

Anytime plots are hatched. It is mandatory that you keep the moving parts limited. The less complicated and interdepedent the linkgage of events, the better.

President Jimmy Carter's 1980 messy raid into Iran to free 53 US hostages siezed by the ayatollas was a case in point. He involved the Marines, Army Special forces, the US Navy and the US Airforce – eveything but the University Georgia's Marching band. One thing went wrong and the whole operation was destroyed before it even came close to a final assualt. It was a debacle. GW Bush with his moronic neocons developed a plot to interfer in the internal affairs of Pakistan under the rubric of fostering democracy in Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto was to be their willing and compliant stalking horse. This too has developed into a debacle. For GW Bush at this stage of his presidency what is one more or less debacle?

It was obvious the Bush admistration was taking political heat big time for not killing bin Laden. So Bush tried to blame others for his failure; it was easy to blame Musharraf, the miltary dictator of Pakistan. He was not the first nor will he be the last military boss in Pakistan's short, but turbulent history. After 9/11, the Bush team bribed and blungened Musharraf with threats to cooperate with the war against the Jihadists. Musharraf really preferred the Taliban and al Qaeda; for Pakistan nurtured them as opponents of the Afghanistan Northern Alliance, a military organization that supported Pakistani arch enemy India.

And Parkistanis also liked the idea of sending Al Qaeda and Taliban to Kashmire to fight Indians as insurgents. US was permitted to use Pakistan logistically to support operations in Afghanistan. Billions were provided for military aid. Mursharraf finally did help the US to snare second tier terrorists in Parkistan, but in the last few years his enthusiam to catch Jihadists waned. It became more difficult for the Pakistanis to support US objectives as the US supplied the Indians with nuclear material which Musharraf considered a major threat. The Pakistans believed that these US nuclear materials, though for industrial use, would permit the Indians to build more nuclear weapons with their OWN uncontrolled but limited nuclear ore.
Apparently the US intentionally looked the other way, as US business interests intensly expanded accross India. Profits obviously trumpted national security.

When Musharrf pulled away from the US, Bush developed a plan to control Musharraf. Benazir Bhutto played a key role in it. Bhutto promised if she returned to power, she would insure Pakistans Nuclear weapons would be brought under UN supervision and permit NATO/US forces to pursue Jihadists into Pakistani territory; she would hunt the Jihadests down like dogs. From the US policy position she was seen as a messiah. She also promised a secular democratic rule; played into the Bush script on democracy; and made the women of the world gush over a female leader of an Islamic country. All this proved to be just another GW Bush deadly delusion.

By all standards Bhutto ostensibly was an attractive choice. A handsome woman, educated at Cambridge and Harvard, born into an influencial Pakistani family, and she had the thirst for power. Her father was prime minister of Pakistan; however, hanged for corruption. She herself was also charged with corruption, but escaped the hangmans noose through agreed exile where she remained for years until Bush brokered a deal with Musharraf for her return. She must have thought she was Napoleon returning from Elba. On her arrival to Pakistan she was greeted joyfully by thousands of anti Musharraf throngs only to face an assassination attempt that killed over 140 people. She escaped shaken. US intelligence had warned her of the dangers. The warnings were unheeded.

Musharraf declared martial law, which he soon lifted under US and international pressure. Bhutto was assassinated as she departed a mass campaign meeting in Rawalpindi a few days ago. She was killed in her blast proof, bullet proof SUV as she foolishly popped her head out the sun roof of the vehicle to appeal to the crowds that surrounded her.

Who killed and what killed her is under investigation. An autopsy would solve the "what" easily enough, but the "who" is another question. The lady was the target of many remorseless people with blood in their eye to include the Jihadists, Musharraf and, separately, the self-styled patriots who believed her to be threat to Pakistan. The fact she is dead is important to US policy as it signalled the disasterous attempt to interfer in the internal affairs of Parkistan. The fact that it backfired only complicates the US policy in the region. It is typical of Bush team's inability to face realities, take the wrong action and hide from consequences. The plan had way too many parts to ever work. Bhutto was a brillant campaigner, but a proven flop as an executive leader, so even had she survived and was democratically elected, chaos would have ensued as she tried to settle old scores with the Pakistani military establishment.

The country has strong secular elements but it is the jihadists that have suicide bombers with the fanatic following that can not be controlled democratically. Bush should have clearly learned this in Iraq and Afghanistan. The locus of power in Pakistan is the military establishment – democracy there is just a Bush/neocon delusion. Choice is to support Musharraf or his clone or send US troops forever to stabilize the area with US troops; that would mean more medals on the chest and blood on the boots. Some US choice...
Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.