Here are the stories that got my attention this week.
1. Robin Wright and Joby Warrick, “U.S. Steps Up Unilateral Strikes in Pakistan,” Washington Post, Thursday.
Wright and Warrick note that U.S. strikes on al Qaeda sites (i.e., “villages”) in Pakistan are taking place in accord with “a tacit understanding with Musharraf and Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani that allows U.S. strikes on foreign fighters operating in Pakistan.” My question is, and has been, who in the U.S. is ordering these operations and under what authority? I’ve also asked this question about Somalia, where we’re also bombing selected al Qaeda villages.
I’ve heard the answer that the host governments have invited us in, and that’s dandy. But host governments don’t order U.S. troops into hostilities; the president does that, and he does it with either a) a declaration of war from Congress or b) specific statutory authority of Congress. One can reasonably argue that the original Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) of September 2001 covers our activities in Afghanistan, and the separate Iraq AUMF authorizes combat actions there. But there is no AUMF for Pakistan or Somalia. No one in Congress or, that I can find, the mainstream media is raising an eyebrow over this, although plenty of these folks are screaming about other executive branch abuses of constitutional authority.
2. Gareth Porter, “US/IRAQ: Sadr Offensive Shows Failure of Petraeus Strategy,” IPS, Wednesday.
Porter cuts to the chase and tells us how Mr. Bush’s “main man” David Petraeus responded to the Mahdi Army uprising: “Petraeus reacted immediately to Sunday's rocket attacks on the Green Zone by blaming them on Iran.”
Petraeus, naturally, didn’t offer any explanation as to why his enhanced force was unable to deter or defend against the rocket attacks, or why his blessed surge strategy was coming apart at the seams. And, as usual, he offered no concrete evidence whatsoever to back his accusations against Iran. As I’ve said before, the most tangible evidence of Iranian participation in attacks on U.S. troops the Bush administration has managed to provide is a series of pictures in a PowerPoint presentation that for all we know could have been taken in Joe Lieberman’s attic or Lindsey Graham’s closet. Yet time after time, for over a year, the big press has played echo chamberlain for the administration’s claims.
I hear this morning on NPR that Iraqi President Nuri al Maliki has extended the “deadline” for the Mahdi Army to lay down its weapons. Heh. “I’m going to count to three, and then I’m going to count to three again, and then I’m going to count to three three times, and then I’m going to count to ten, and then I’m going to…”
3. Bill Maher, “The 100 Years War,” The Huffington Post, March 21.
I missed this one last week. Maher postulates: “That by a certain neocon definition, Iraq is a success” because maybe a 100 year, indecisive war is exactly what they wanted.
Well, yeah, Bill. In “McQaeda,” I offer my take on what is evolving not as World War III, but as Cold War II. I’ll have more on that subject in next week’s regular column.
4. Jeff Huber, Bathtub Admirals, Kunati Books, 2008.
Yay me! The story on my book is that Amazon started shipping it this week and they say they only have four copies left but they’re ordering more. I hope that doesn’t mean they only had five copies to start with.
Somewhere in the five-year course of working on BA I decided that it was a satiric prequel to the shenanigans we see Bush and the Cheney Gang pulling today. BA is populated with more Queegs than you can throw a ball bearing at, including the mysterious Fix Felon, a murky, Cheney-like “power behind the scenes” character. Little did I know at the time that Admiral William “Fox” Fallon would become a leading character in our real life drama of a failed president and his failed wars.
In BA, Fix Felon is one of the bad guys. In real life, Fox Fallon is evolving into the only four-star hero to come out of Mr. Bush’s woebegone war on terrorism. He’s the only top officer who stayed on and stuck to his guns regarding his disdain for Bush/Cheney policies and strategies. I’m more convinced than ever that his Esquire profile was a deliberate effort at getting out the message that he was het up about the nonsense in Iraq, that he had, in fact, called Petraeus a chicken stuff heinie smoocher to his face, and that he was purposely forcing the “crazies” to force him to step down. It’s clear in the second picture of Fallon in the article that he was sitting in a studio for celebrity photog Peter Wang, and basically says, “Yeah, I’m flipping Bush off. Got a problem with that?”
It now appears that the administration is holding up Fallon’s retirement so it can keep him from testifying before Congress. Talk about chicken stuff.
And speaking of chicken stuff, here’s a nice picture of the book ;-)
"So we can play war…"
"Populated by outrageous characters and fueled with pompous outrage, Huber’s irreverent broadside will pummel the funny bone of anyone who’s served." — Publishers Weekly