Friday, November 26, 2010

COMEDY AND TRAGEDY IN AFGHANISTAN: Even if you accept the fog of war excuses, the US/NATO military operations in Afghanistan have reached an unacceptable level of absurdity. It is no longer a question of winning or losing the war, but has come down to whether the US military establishment is capable of doing anything other than bombing the daylights out of the enemy. Under these circumstances, victory is at best phyrric with destruction of a country as the end result; take Iraq as an example--- all the US king's men and horses are unable to put Humpty Dumpty back on the wall, after they pushed him off of it.

President Obama recently in a cheetleading speech at a NATO conference in Lisbon cited progress in the Afghan war by US/NATO troops. A few days earlier he indicated the that the 2011 draw-down of US surge troops from Afghanistan is now aspirational, dependent on conditions on the ground, and reset a 2014 date as more realistic. So as the American Indian would have expressed it--MAN SPEAKS WITH FORKED TONGUE. Why the President continuously undermines his credibility is unknown especially now as the military operations are branded Obama's war

The fact that General Petraeus called for the reinforcement of 16 Abram tanks this November for the USMC in Helmand and Kandahar provinces did not signal the battle there was going well. Afghanistan is not tank country as the the Soviets learned to their dismay

The Abrams tank has a 120mm canon and a multitude of rounds that can reach over 3 kilometers These rounds include depleted uranium shells that leave residual contamination after fired. The tank will be used mainly as a self-propelled gun since the US forces do not have one of that high calibre for low intensity conflict. So only a small part of the tanks battlefield capability designed for tank warfare will be employed.

The tank is expensive to operate. It uses a gallion a mile on the move and 12 gallons an hour at idle. The last figure I heard that it costs 76.00 usd a gallon by the time gas gets in to a tank of a combat vehicle in Afghanistan due to transport costs. An additional 115 marines will be sent to operate the tanks--ammunition supply, spare parts and maintenance are another headache that has to be brought into the cost calculation--modern warfare is expensive.

Karzai our puppet -off-the string Afghan leader apparently hates the US as much as the Taliban does; he has told the US to get out soonest and turn over the conflict. to the Afghan people. This has left General Patraeus aghast. This is almost as shocking to the US as when Karzai declared during a visit to Japan that he wanted Japan to develop the mineral reserves in Afghanistan that include large deposits of rare Lithium used in battery manufacturing.

Perhaps the most stunning debacle for the US occurred recently when an alledged high-ranking Taliban leader in whom the US had invested time, much money and ballyhoo turned out to be an impostor. The US even flew the guy from Pakistan under escort-- met with Karzai to talk peace. Petraeus used the events foolishly to pop off that the Tailiban are under so much pressure that they are forced to talk peace. The impostor was believed by the US to be the second in command under Mullah Omar, Taliiban leader, but during the process Mullah Omar denied the Tailban were talking peace or negotiating.

So whom do you believe now ? A half-cocked, spinning Petraeus or the bullet proof, one-eyed Mullah the US cannot kill.

If US intelligence is so bad in the Afghan/Pakistan theater operations that it is suckered big time into such deception as the Taliban impostor, you must wonder about the the quality of intelligence used drone targeting, especially in Pakistan. After the the 9/11 surprise attack and the Iraq WMD fiasco, we need much less trust and much more verification in US intelligence operations.

As the Afghanistan war tragically now kills a US fighting man a day; and strategy on counter insurgency operations is failing as evinced in the showcase "government in a box' operation in Marja ,one can question the effectiveness of the US military establishment in a low intensity war. All still remember the Vietnam defeat and view the shambles of Iraq with its continued, extended occupation.

As far as the Taliban impostor, you must wonder who vetted him. Was it CIA or military intelligence or Groucho Marx? The impostor escaped with his swag, his skin and a treasure trove of data on US/NATO leadership and essential elements of information required by the command . The man's acting ability and sang froid deserve an academy award.

Our Commander In Chief, should relieve someone in US high leadership in Afghanistan for crippling incompetence before the triumvirate of Petraeus-Holbrooke and Eikenberry becomes known as the GANG THAT CANNOT SHOOT STRAIGHT or even worse, the THREE BLIND MICE--. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Saturday, November 20, 2010

START STOPPED?-- It is my experience that strategic arms agreements really do not solve strategic problems, but rather cause a false sense of security. If you recollect GW Bush's abrogation of the 1972 ABM treaty in 2002, you might even make the argument that such treaties inhibit US strategic defense and offensive weapons development.

As President Obama jumps vigorously into the political ring to ratify the START Treaty with Russia in the Senate during the lame-duck session, one wonders why he did not push for approval when had more good will and senators on his side to do the job His recent actions proposing an additional 4 billion to the already 40 billion budgeted for nuclear weapons modernization, indicate that he is prepared to spend considerable political and fiscal capital to make this treaty approval a fact.

The key republican that acts as opposition to the treaty approval is Senator Kyl; he is the front man for the republicans and he was the major force in the abrogation of the ABM treaty. .
The New START will cut long-range deployed nuclear weapons on both sides by up to 30 percent. Kyl's pretext has been getting the administration to come up with a big enough budget to ensure maintenance of the weapons that will remain. Why 40 billion programmed in the budget is insufficient to do this is mystery; Kyl's stance appears as a move either to crush the agreement or provide a stimulus to the US arms industry. In any case the strategic systems involved on both sides are obsolescent and not reliably deployable.

Given the republican effort to diminish Obama's political record in office, it simply may be an attempt to deny him credit for passing the agreement.

The START agreement provides a book keeping system for the dismantlement and destruction of these strategic systems. Neither Russia nor the US are prepared to cripple their nuclear strike forces as both are faced with a teeming Rsd Chinese growing threat. So you figure what the republicans and Kyl are all about.--they destroyed the cornerstone ABM agreement , so there is no jeopardy to a US strategic defense development.

As far as the President's argument on verification with on-site -inspection, there is not much more here than posturing; National Technical Means can handle this if the Russian wish--as far as counting offensive systems, it is really a shell game with the Russian reliance on mobile strategic missiles systems.

Diplomatic embarrassment is factor that will be fallout , because it will demonstrate it is waste of time to negotiate treaties with the US'. After the abrogation of the ABM , the Russians will also take this farce in stride as well--they are making big rubles off charges for US Central Asian transit rights for the US/NATO Afghan war. They will smugly note the US inability to keep its word.

Even in the halcyon days of SALT and the ABM treaty I was sceptical of the disarmament process with the Soviets with its mutual assured destruction doctrine. As it worked out the biggest threat to the US became loose nukes after the collapse of the USSR--until now the Russians have kept the nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands without a treaty. Anyway history and Realpolitik demand that treaties are made to be broken.

If there is is a mutual advantage to the new START treaty ,the Russians will abide by it without senate approval. I am less certain about US intentions under the same circumstances, as there are screwballs in charge of the House-the same gang that marched into Iraq under false pretexts.

Recently I had a drink with an friend who was with me in the 70s in the arms negotiations with the Soviets--he remarked that it seemed what we did at that time was a grand waste of time and energy. I noted that Obama has called on "Hopeless "Henry Kissinger for advice on the new START Treaty. At that we had another drink and laughed. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Friday, November 12, 2010

OBAMA FIGHTS FAILURE WITH FAILURE--Based on the Democratic Party's failures at the 2010 mid-term election, followed by President Obama's 3 November press conference, it is safe to conclude that, at this stage of his life., the President does not learn from his mistakes. Its as if he proves the canard, IF YOU LOSE SIGHT OF THE THE GOALS, REDOUBLE YOUR EFFORT. Let us get specific.

Obama 's 3 November press conference is now ancient history, quickly submerged in his 10-day trip to Asia that almost immediately followed this press conference . Despite this change of focus by MSM, this conference remains as a precursor to the Presidents next two years in office.The President was contrite in the conference--he admitted that he was beaten badly and took much of the blame. He did not project any serious policy regeneration or bravado, such as ,ONE STEP BACKWARD, TWO STEPS FORWARD. Instead he provided an almost child-like bromides for bipatisanship--when the Republicans heard this, they must have rushed to sharpen their political knives as they had cut him to pieces as he sought unsucessfully to achieve it in previously in his term.The two and half wars the president is fighting in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, obviously are ripping his domestic agenda apart, yet neither the White House press corps or the president brought up the issue of wars. CNN did ask about the status of DO NOT ASK DO NOT TELL. Ho Hum--why not ask about the failure of the volunteer military --50 percent of the US forces deployed overseas are mercenaries. Or inquire about US special operations military forces being subordinate operationally to CIA. . Do we have the birth of a Praetorian Guard ?There is evidence that the SECDEF Gates is floating policy changes and wants to extend US troops in Iraq beyound 2011 and avoid draw downs in Afghanistan beyond 2012--failures being componded? With Obama's chief advisor Axelrod signalling extension of GW Bush tax cuts and now extending wars, the value of the dollar is expected to sink; you soon will need a 100.00 dollars to buy a BIg Mac. On the day of the president's departure to Asia his FED CHAIRMAN Bernanke announced that he was prepsred to spend 600 billion dollars to buy up US treasurer bonds from banks to stimulate lending. Does anyone believe the banks will lend money to main street when there there are less risker,more lurcetive opportunities ? More bail out to the banks that has not worked with TARP and the previously spawned stimulus packages.This latest economic move will drive down the value of the dollar. If you think the Red Chinese with their slave labor force will allow their goods to be more expensive than those of the US, you are mistaken--Chinese have already begin developing a currency market outside the Euro and dollar zone and are competitively driving up the price of oil with cheap dollars held by them from the US bonds, sold them to fund its foolish wars..By now we understand President Obama is at best BUSH LITE-his antedote for failue is more failure. His only hope for reelection is that the Republican Party with its Tea Party faction and war lovers will be come accross as screw ball zealots that are a greater threat to the US stability than the Democratic Party's incompetence. Colonel;Robert E Bartos USA Ret


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