Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bush Administration: More Middle East Miasma

The Media Line reports that Iran claims it has shot down a U.S. drone aircraft that crossed into Iranian airspace . (Hat tip to Raw Story for the link.) The drone was probably conducting a reconnaissance/intelligence gathering mission, but what it was doing doesn't matter so much as where it was doing it.

The Iranians may have shot the drone down with the new TOR M-1 surface-to-air missile system it bought from Russia, but that doesn’t really matter either. What matters is that if the U.S. flew a military aircraft, piloted or not, into Iranian airspace, Iran had a right to shoot it down.

That's assuming, of course, that the drone really flew into Iranian airspace and the Iranians really shot it down.

Central Command spokesman Captain Frank Pascual says that, "There has been no loss of any of our drones or UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] and as a result, the claim that the Iranian government is making is false."

Who are we to believe? The Iranians aren't the cuddliest toys in the playpen, but as far as we know for sure, they haven't lied to us yet, which is a lot more than we can say for Central Command (think Jessica Lynch, Pat Tillman, etc.) and the rest of the Pentagon and Bush administration information sources.

The truth in this story may lie anywhere (pun intended) along a spectrum of likelihoods. At one extreme, the reported shoot down may a complete Iranian fabrication designed for both domestic and international consumption. At the other end, Central Command may be covering up. Somewhere in between is the possibility that the drone did enter Iranian airspace, and the Iranians shot at it and missed (that scenario would jibe with Central Command's Rovewellian non-denial denial that "there has been no loss of our drones").

But, as with so much of what has happened during the Bush II era, we don't know what really happened, and we probably never will.

Known Unknowns

If there's one thing we do know, it's that our government is not telling us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The party of Abraham Lincoln based a successful political strategy on a policy of fooling "most of the people most of the time" through largely nonsensical talking points and frightening images crafted at conservative think tanks like the Hoover Institution, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Project for the New American Century.

At this point in the failing American experiment, our information environment is so polluted that no message delivered through any media source can be taken at face value. We can't tell for sure if something cited to an "unnamed" government official is a genuine piece of whistle blowing or a deliberately planted tidbit of misinformation/disinformation/propaganda.

The best we can do is filter out the noise and look at as much "factual" information as we can find, and if we do that, we'll find a situation that bodes ill for the United States under the neoconservative Bush doctrine.

Saying and Doing and a Strategy of Ignorance

"If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are sure to be defeated in every battle."

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

-- Sun Tzu

Foreign policy-wise, we've blown it. Iraq is unwinnable. Afghanistan is irretrievably squandered. Our recent incursion into Somalia is just another lit match applied to an ocean of kerosene.

Punky little Iran has us by the zipper, and its biggest, bestest buddies--Russia and China--are on the cusp of reemerging from their Cold War defeat, and they're about to do it "without fighting." Why should they pour blood and treasure into the fan through war and a pointless, symmetrical arms race. It's far wiser for them to sit on the sidelines and let us bleed and spend ourselves into the sand on our own.

Mr. Bush continues to heed he advice of neoconservative point talkers like Fred Kagan, whose understanding of the enemy and himself would fit comfortably in the fold between his chins.

A former professor of military history at West Point, Fred Kagan is the brother of Bob Kagan and son of Donald Kagan, both of whom are neo-cronies of Weekly Standard editor and Project for the New American Century founder Bill Kristol (who is the son of Irving Kristol, considered to be the "godfather" of American neoconservatism).

None of these surly characters have any experience of military service, which brings to mind another cogent Sun Tzu quote:
It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. Anonymous3:27 PM

    Russia and China--are on the cusp of reemerging from their Cold War defeat,

    and they can WALK to Iraq.

    That was the first thing that occurred to me when the idiots began to pound the wardrums in '02.

    The second thing was: Yes, they really are that stupid. And hey think we are, too.

  2. EF:

    "and they can WALK to Iraq."

    Precisely, precisely, precisely. My compliments to your sense of geostrategic realities.

    Thanks for posting this.

  3. Anonymous4:32 PM

    What does a intelligent fighter do when confronted with bad odds? Withdraw, regroup and play it safe. Thats China and Russia for ya. They have some history behind them. The question now is what happens AFTER the fall of the US, it might be a very bad and cynical world. For all your faults, you are a very romantic empire.

    Mrs Clintons comment on how important it is to keep the eye on Afghanistan is the sanest I have seen in a long time.

    A complete disassociation: Check out The Trial of Tony Blair at, its a good sign that we still have some active intellectuals left in Europe.

  4. Aren't you being a tad bit too negative? The United States has had some successes too. AS James Fallows pointed out in his article in the Atlantic-Al Quaede is a shell of its former self, the US is positioned to be involved for good if it chose too and we are finally waking up and realizing that we need a bigger military.

    Iraq is the big distraction. Saddam ouster or no, it was not in the long term US interest to get heavily involved there. I view that as the biggest mistake the administration made.

    The work that the US is doing in Asia and particularly the PI is paying dividends and requires a hell of a lot less investment in people and treasure.

  5. Anonymous7:07 PM

    One can only hope that we are not going to have an overt war with Iran and that it will be kept covert, however that idea is wishful thinking. Bush, Cheney, and Rove have never used subtlety and they never will. If we have a hot war with Iran and we lose that will be bad, if we have a hot war with Iran and we win it will be worse. The instability caused by our failed operations in Iraq are bad enough but if we duplicate the results in Iran the consequences will be terrible. the two countries would be like swirling political vortex of chaos and anti-western anger sucking the whole region and possibly the world into chaos and unrest. And out of it would arise a new radical Islamic empire forged by hatred, anger and grief, armed with nuclear missiles and hell bent on destroying the United States.

  6. Anonymous9:25 PM

    So, CENTCOM says, "There has been no loss of any of our drones or UAVs..."

    That would be true statement if they recovered the UAV in how many pieces?

  7. MK,

    IMO, Russian and China are playing this game just right. The dopes on MSNBC are asking if this missile sale signals an "alliance" between Iran and Russia. Hello.


    I wouldn't say I'm being negative, I think I'm making a somewhat accurate and realistic analysis. I'm not sure how to judge the relative strength or weakness of al Qaeda. I haven't read the article you refer to yet, but a "shell of its former self" is a somewhat vague assessment. Plus, I'm not at all clear that AQ is the primary "threat" right now--it looks to me like terror networks in general are taking a back seat to state entity competitors.


    Yeah, that's possible, but like I said, who knows?

    Best to all,


  8. Anonymous1:53 PM

    It should be noted that these wars are wars of choice, the wound is self-inflicted. As Jeff said, "Why should they pour blood and treasure into the fan through war and a pointless, symmetrical arms race. It's far wiser for them to sit on the sidelines and let us bleed and spend ourselves into the sand on our own."

    Initially, Russia, China and most of the world were against the Iraq war, they wanted energy security and economic stability. The US ignored this and went to war anyway. Are Russia and China sympathetic to Iran? Probably. They have strong energy ties to Iran and their leaders would be derelict if they didn't protect those interests. We (America) knew this and are now 'surprised' at their reaction. Since when does a nation not protect its perceived national interests?

    There was a winning hand to be played: after 9/11 Russia raised oil production from 6 to 9 mbd. They offered former Soviet bases. They were willing to split Azerbijian/Caspian Sea control with us. In hindsight, not a bad deal. But we didn't view them as an equal partner but a washed up (doormat) ex-superpower. We took the extra oil production, all of Azerbijian, the airbases, and, we sponsored three color revolutions in Russia's 'near abroad.'

    Would Russia and China be so close if we hadn't pushed them together? And neither of them would be as supportive of Iran if we weren't trying to usurp EurAsian energy supplies more than we already have. In the future, if our perceived national interests continue to clash, it's likely their will be an unspoken 'alliance' with Iran and more weapons will be supplied. I bet they are sending them right now in anticipation of a March war.

  9. Anonymous3:37 PM

    I honestly believe we can salvage some of our former cred, but, only if we allow our democracy to work as intended.

    It will take time, but, impeachment of appropriate "leaders" and their "advisors" followed by turning over the most egregious of violators (Bush, Rumsfield, Cheney, Yoo/Gonzalez) to the World Court. Make it very public and transparent. It will cost, but not as much as the present "Iraq" exercise. Make it very obvious how and why and we may "buy" some of our former standing. Reparations to those we wronged as well as public recompense by the perps and their families would be a step in the correct direction.

    I realize things can be vague. All I offer is a goal and general outline, but impeachment and censure could begin today, for the misrepresentations by Gonzalez to Congress. The sooner we begin, the less we will be pariahs on our own globe.

    Well, I can hope, can't I?

  10. Anonymous10:49 AM

    Skippy-san: The only two great sucesses the US armed forces has had the last four years (in my eyes) were the emergency-help to Aceh after the tsunami and the similar first-hand help in Pakistan after the Earthquake. That was very good work.

    Afghanistan and Iraq is, on the other hand, the most fantastic piece of corruption I have ever heard of in history. 9 billion dollars in hard cash flown in on Hercules airplanes in the dead of the night and GIVEN away, no reciepts. It boggles the mind, it was a bank-robbery. Paul Bremer should be put to trial, NOW.