Sunday, July 13, 2008

Iran + Iraq = Ironic

"As this law [of extremes] begins to lose its force and as this determination wanes, the political aim will reassert itself."

--Carl von Clausewitz

Young Mr. Bush has managed to irretrievably lose his Iraq misadventure, saving his successor the trouble of trying to put off defeat indefinitely.

Last week, at a meeting with ambassadors from the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki proposed a short-term memorandum of understanding on the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq that includes a formula for American troop withdrawal.

The Bush administration bull feather merchants accelerated to full pluck. According to White House spokesman Tony Fratto, Maliki's statement was consistent with the goals of the Bush administration. "The prime minister is reflecting a shared goal that we have," Fratto said, "which is that as the Iraqi forces become a more self-reliant force, we'll see reductions in U.S. forces.”

Gordon Jondroe, another Bush spell caster, said, "Negotiations and discussions are ongoing every day. It is important to understand that these are not talks on a hard date for withdrawal."

Nice try, fellows. What Maliki actually said was, "We are looking at the necessity of terminating the foreign presence on Iraqi lands and restoring full sovereignty," and that the goal of Jondroe's aforementioned negotations was to reach an agreement on "the departure of the forces" or "a timetable on their withdrawal."

Maybe Fratto and Jondroe were hoping Maliki was drunk when he said those things, and would apologize the next day about any confusion he may have caused, and say he didn't remember what he told those ambassadors but whatever he said, please ignore it. If so, Iraqi national security adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie sucked the wind out of their sails when, after a meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf, he said, "We will not accept any memorandum of understanding that doesn't have specific dates to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq."

So much for the New American Century.

The Aim Reasserts Itself

The Bush administration still hasn't supplied us with a consistent explanation for its woebegone invasion of Iraq. Young Mr. Bush has admitted that Saddam Hussein had no hand in the 9/11 attacks, even though his blow up toy Joe Lieberman continues to insist that "We're in a war against Islamist extremists who attacked us on 9/11."

Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz confessed in May 2003 that weapons of mass destruction became the casus belli of the Iraq invasion merely because it was "the one issue that everyone could agree on." That it took until summer of 2008 for the U.S. to remove the last of Hussein's uranium stockpile from Iraq illustrates the lack of seriousness with which anyone in the Bush administration actually regards weapons of mass destruction in general and nuclear proliferation specifically as a threat to the United States.

The real aim of the Iraq invasion is to be found in the neoconservative manifesto Rebuilding America's Defenses, published by Bill Kristol's infamous Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in September 2000.

According to the PNAC, charter members of which included Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Zalmay Khalilzad, Doug Feith and Scooter Libby, the need for an increased U.S. military footprint in the Middle East "transcend[ed] the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." The "unresolved conflict with Iraq" merely provided "the immediate justification" for an influx of forces, and 9/11 provided the "new Pearl Harbor" they needed to convince the rest of America to support their ambitions.

So it is that John McCain, the neoconservative movement's crown prince, waxes manically about keeping American G.I.s in Iraq for "a thousand years." (In case you're wondering, no, McCain didn't come up with the thousand-year mantra all by himself. Like so many neocon slogans, that one came from an earlier politician who spoke of establishing a thousand-year something-or-other.)

Hence, whenever the neocons speak of their Iraq misadventure in terms of "victory" and "defeat," what they're really talking about is whether or not they get to park U.S. troops there forever.

The Persian Ploy

World-class sociopaths that they are, the neocons will continue to generate excuses and deflect blame for their failure to create "open arms" in Iraq. "Internal Iraqi political pressures" has already received generous bandwidth. The Bush spin machine was quick to declare that the administration is considering increasing the pace of the pullout from Iraq (as if they were actually considering a "pull out" in the first place), not as a reaction to Maliki's invitation to pack sand, or because the force is collapsing from the deployment tempo, but because the extra troops are needed in Afghanistan.

When somebody mentions extra troops are needed in Afghanistan because things have been going to hell there since we abandoned it to invade Iraq on fuzzy pretexts, the echo chorus will blame NATO for not giving us enough of the right kind of help, and when somebody mentions that we're lucky NATO is helping us at all after Donald Rumsfeld called Europe "irrelevant" back in 2003, well, somehow all that will become Barack Obama's fault for not supporting the Iraq invasion, and the need to take troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan will one way or another reflect how successful the "surge" was and how right John McCain was to support it.

When that unholy house of cards collapses under the weight of its own illogic, the administration will fall back on its favorite scapegoat: Iran. Why not go to the well again? They've been lying to us about the Iranian's involvement in the deaths of American G.I.s in Iraq and their supposed desire to acquire nuclear weapons for over a year and a half now, and thanks in large part to the mainstream media's assistance, they're still getting away with it.

The neocon artists will likely also get away with telling American that Iraq told us to leave because that's what Iran told Iraq to tell us. They won't tell America that the Iran they're talking about is the same Iran that in 2003 told us they'd stop supporting militant groups in Lebanon and Palestine and to help stabilize Iraq. Had we dealt with Iran then, our Middle East Miasma would be our Fertile Crescent Conquest, but Dick Cheney told them to go away. "We don't talk to evil," the Dark Lord said.

Alas, poor irony.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Russ Wellen's interview with Jeff at The Huffington Post and Scholars and Rogues.


  1. Anonymous5:05 PM

    the watchman says- it seems to me that the Bush Administration 'flinched' when Iran test fired those missiles last week... now the Israeli prime minster is being investigated by the Israeli police for corruption while he says that peace is closer than ever... do you think these two separate events could be related?... it looks to me like the western powers are recognizing that they are whipped in this arena... not to mention Zimbabwe... What do you think, Jeff?

  2. How do the corporate interests who support the mainstream media profit by selling us war with Iran?

    Oh silly me, I forgot that the SDUT articles at one point were brought to me by some gazillion dollar military drone company.

    Fox snooz sez "We Know They want to have Weapons of Mass Destruction."

    2. Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran
    in Top 25 Censored Stories for 2007

  3. Watchman,

    I tend to think just about everything that happens in DC and Tel Aviv is related these days, I don't always know just how, though.


    It all boils down to war bucks, doesn't it?

  4. Seems like hon, seems like.

  5. Her book came out about a year ago, didn't it?


  6. Anonymous9:22 PM

    OK what do you think the connection is between the French New Prince and Iran and the nicey nicey game being played at the Mediterranean Group? Somehow, I get the feeling that if the French Pres. Mr. Bruni gets a hug and kiss between Israel and Lebanon, he might just get his Air Bus contract reinstated. And doubly so if he gets Iran to play along.

    I am appalled that the domestic press is not even reporting this stuff. Luckily for me, I don't sleep well at night and listen to BBC all night long. There is something afoot,Watson--what's your take on this ,Jeff?

  7. Neocon reporter Eli Lake happily predicts an Obama-Petraeus "mind meld"

    * * *

    "Obama isn't Jimmy Carter--he's Ronald Reagan."

    On his first day in office, President Barack Obama will head to the situation room for a video conference with his most important commander, General David Petraeus. [...]

    [...] Susan Rice is tipped to be a senior figure in an Obama administration. [...] She applauded the 1980s arming of the mujahedin resistance to the Soviets: "[S]upport for the Afghan resistance to Soviet aggression was the right decision in the 1980s." And she said that the Anbar Awakening was "responsible for much of the security progress we have seen in Iraq," though she insisted that Sunni militias must eventually be incorporated into state security forces.

    [...] Of course, the Obama counterterrorism policy is still a work in progress. As his recent zigzags illustrate, he still hasn't figured out his stance on some of the larger questions. But, in discussing his plans for Iraq, he has made one key admission: He will listen carefully to the advice of his generals. You can easily see how this will play out. Obama will enter office with a set of somewhat inchoate instincts about American power and the importance of outsourcing force. These instincts will mesh with the evolving thinking of his top commanders, who have also begun to realize the limitations of an overstretched army and the value of counter-insurgency. And that brings us back to the situation room on Obama's first day. If he and Petraeus can overcome whatever awkwardness lingers, they will discover a mind meld and an emerging doctrine-- a doctrine that looks a lot more like Ronald Reagan than Jimmy Carter.

    - - Eli Lake

    * * *

  8. Eli Lake seems to believe that Carter's "human rights" concerns stopped the Muj from getting covert aid until after Reagan took office, and that aiding the Muj is somehow more Reagan-esque than Carter-esque.

    However, according to sources cited by Wikipedia, aid to the Muj started not only before Reagan was elected, but also before the Soviet invasion.

    In which case, Susan Rice's policy preferences seem to be equally compatible with both Reagan and Carter.

    * * *


    Carter advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski stated "According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise." Brzezinski himself played a fundamental role in crafting U.S. policy, which, unbeknownst even to the mujahideen, was part of a larger strategy "to induce a Soviet military intervention." In a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski recalled:

    "We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would...That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap...The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War."

    * * *

    Did Brzezinski actually say that starting a new Vietnam War was an "excellent" idea?


    * * *

    - - Montgomery Burns

  9. Being Russian, I probably shouldn't compliment you to spare you from charges of treason and giving comfort to the enemy. But still, WHAT A GREAT WRITING!

  10. First, the Carter Administration had some very functional pieces in it. I have no doubt about it's capacity for initiating a proxy war between the USSR and the tribes of Afghanistan.

    Second, the policies Obama will or won't adopt are dependent on two future events: his victory in November; and the magnitude of his victory in November.

    It is unwise to assume victory in politics. It is far better have a healthy degree of paranoia about one's opponent until the day after the election. There have been plenty of Democratic front runners who fell by the wayside on Election Day.

    Furthermore, there's nothing like an overwhelming victory in politics. If Obama were to dominate McCain in the Electoral College, Obama would be free to go his own way. But if Obama eeks out a victory against McCain, it will be seen as a mandate for the continuation of "W" policies with a kinder-gentler-new face. Again, not only can Obama not be assumed to be the victor in the general election, but the margin of his victory also cannot be assumed. When the added destructive influence of Ralph Nader is thrown in again, it is possible that a chunk of Obama's mandate could be frittered way on a nostalgia campaign with Ralph Nader.

    It is depressing that Ralph Nader is not being aggressively neutralized. It is equally depressing how many Democrats continue to just assume Obama victory as a wish-fulfillment exercise. I've never known the political world to work this way.

  11. Great discussion, Gang.


    Like we said earlier, follow the war bucks.


    I think there is a real danger that Obama will get sucked in by the neocon game.


    I keep expecting a midnight visit from Dmitri and Vanya.;-)


    I'd agree with your landslide vs. eked out victory except look how Bush actually treated a loss (his first election) as a mandate.


  12. Commander, what I'm getting from Craig Unger's book "The Fall of the House of Bush" is a couple of things. There is enough bitterness between 41 and 43, to keep the headshrinkers happy for years. Anything done by 41, would be an absolute taboo, for 43. Additionally, according to Unger, 43 really is a "born again." So, the original neo-cons, Cheney, Rummy, Wolfowitz, et al, joined forces with the "born again" religious nut neocons Robertson, Hagee, Falwell et al, to convince 43 of two things: (a) God (whoever he or she is) wanted Junior to be President of the United States. (b) the only way to stabilize the ME was not through trying to bring about peace between Israel and Palestine, but through democritization of countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, etc.

    Since 41 wouldn't invade, or go after Saddam on the Tigris, it was something that 43 was determined to do, from the time he was sworn in.

    I don't know about a "mandate" in 2000, but from what I read, he looked at his appointment, (by the SCOTUS) as "divine intervention." This would explain 43's absolute stubborness on all issues. He absolutely thinks he is "right". According to his religious brainwashing.

    So do/did all the right wing preachers, and PNAC folks.

    And, the rest, as they say, is history.

    BTW - OT - What's a C-130 going for these days? We seem to be "blowing them up."

  13. EL,

    I'd like to say I can't believe 43 is/was that pathological. Unfortunately, I believe he is/was.

  14. Anonymous12:32 PM

    Excellent, as usual.
    Two items, off topic, but connected:
    1) Have you any information on the so-called "ghost ships"? See:
    2) Have you seen this interview with Naomi Wolf about her book?
    See: naomi_wolf_end_of_america.htm
    I would be most interested in having your thoughts on both.

  15. Hi Jeff-

    Keeping up the good fight. Been following your posts some and always find you pretty much on the mark, which means we agree . . .

    Liked the Clausewitz quote of course.

    The current war in Iraq involves imo the original policy of 2003 which envisioned a radical remake of Iraqi society by force and the domination of Iraq's mineral resources and economy by the US, this in the regional political context which was/is at best ambivalent. We never committed the resources necessary to achieve this radical goal, so never had a chance in gaining it. This policy has in turn been replaced by an attempt to put an Iraqi face on the old policy through the establishment of a puppet government, but with much confusion as various domestic US political interests see the continuation of the war, not its resolution, as best for their own narrow claims. Meanwhile the regional powers become ever more important players as well.

    As you point out, the puppet doesn't really act like a very good puppet, but then who would expect this bunch to get that right after hopelessly screwing up everything else? We're in Iraq for the long term, until domestic political support for that war collapses, which means the political/economic elite no longer see the war as being in their interests . . . sad what all this indicates about our country and what passes for a political system.

  16. Yes Jeff, Klein's book is now on the Amazon paperback bestseller list. .

    Neat story here. I was checking HuffPo immediately after the class where the Prof lectured on the wonders of Milton Freedman's "free-market" theories and Naomi was being interviewed by John Cusack. I ordered and read the book and had a hell of time not rolling my eyes in class after I finished it.

    Did I ever tell you I became a raging liberal AFTER I took business classes? Whooo-eee, if only I had really invested in the stocks I picked for an exercise in one of my classes, I'd be doing just fine right now.


  17. Yippee! Skippee! 43 has lifted the executive order on offshore drilling that has been around since --- wait for it -- 41 was president.

    Maybe daddy did love Jeb the most -- who knows?

    If the whole country suddenly got the eyesores (drilling rigs) that are off the coast of Texas and Louisiana, and California, we maybe could find a few more barrels of oil for the Humvees, in about 10-12 years. And Halliburton continues to be able to rock and roll.

    The "bringing democracy to the Middle East" of course means bringing "shock doctrine capitalism", to whatever unfortunate country we decide we should invade and occupy. As in we bring corporations to develop their natural resources. We take what we need off the top. We load the country with mountains of debt, through the IMF, and World Bank. Then, we tell them how to run their sovereign nation. And, of course it is all done Milton Friedman (Freedman)Chicago school of economics- survival of the fitest- style.

    And, all done in secret of course. Everybody has "executive priviledge". Nobody has to tell Congress, or anybody else what's going on. (Not that they would care much.)

    We just keep printing money.

  18. Sorry, gang, I've gotten behind in the conversation. EL, yeah, I knew all those ATMs would be the bane of us!


  19. Jeg,

    I don't know much more about the ghost ships that what that page covers. Couldn't open that other page.


  20. Sey,

    I agree with all except I'd say that the Iraq invasion was policy since 1997 or 8, when the original PNAC letters went out to Clinton and Gingrich.

  21. Nunya,

    Don't you just love professors? I have three degrees in bull feathering and if I ever have to sit through another lecture from an ivory tower type I'll kill him or her.

  22. Anonymous8:22 PM

    This link re: Naomi Wolf works on my machine:

  23. Jeff-

    "1997-98". True, but I'm thinking more in terms of the Iraq war as the continuation of their policy by other means which would be 2003 . . . very Clausewitzian you know. ;-)>

  24. Kerstin8:46 PM

    Dick Cheney said: "We don't talk to evil"
    How on earth then, can they talk to each other in the US government?
    Or does this explains it all?

    Kerstin på

  25. Kerstin, I think you have a good point (evil not talking to evil).

    As to the phenomena of Bush, the "W"'s non-mandate from his non-victory over Al Gore, simply, the Democrats, to my undying shame, did not limit him in the traditional manner. Of course, part of it occurred because the Democrats were in the minority. Part of it occurred because of the effects of the Clinton Impeachment, but part of it simply cannot be explained except by stating the obvious--the Democratic leadership was not of the same caliber as the greats of old--not even by half.

  26. Anonymous5:21 AM

    The Onion is rapidly becoming the country's best news source.

  27. Anonymous5:35 AM


    decided to read you in 'v.o'--that is to say, "version originale".

    While we'll have to wait a while to learn just how big our eventual Iraq-Footprint turns out to be, it's already pretty clear that whatever the foot-print's size, it'll have a prominent bullet-hole in it.


  28. Jeff, off-topic but whilst i was browsing for something, I stumbled upon this site;

    check out number 5 for you.. (self promotion, too bad you can't get paid for it [s])


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