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Archive for September of 2006
September 29, 2006
September 28, 2006
oor Hitch. His dreams of surfing the Killer Wave of American Power in the Middle East and thereby redeem his hallowed memories of Paris 1968 hit yet another roadblock. Now he must deal with his old nemeis from Vietnam, Henry Kissinger, whispering in the ears of Dubya, Gerson, Hadley et al. Hitch has long believed Kissinger to be a war criminal from Vietnam, having penned a book denouncing him as such. Nice company to be in 2006.
oodward comes with another merchandizing and branding exercise, this time 527 pages long. Is there anything really new here? Let's review the bidding: (a) Card tried to move Rumsfeld out (known); (b) State and OSD are not working together (duh); (c) Murtha speaks for flag officers (known); (d) Pace and Myers are the Keitel and Jodl of our times (known); (e) Rumsfeld is hesitant and often indecisive contrary to his media image (known); (f) the scale of the cluster fuck in Iraq has been hidden from the American people (known); (g) Tenet tried to get Cher Condi to pay attention to the terror attacks in the summer of 2001 (known).
Some nuggets are new and hilarious. Kissinger's refighting Vietnam is new to the Stiftung. Who knew the Ford Administration would turn out after all to be among the most significant presidencies of our time?
Cheney repeatedly calling Kay on secure satellite phones in Iraq to direct him to specific GPS coordinates to find alleged WMD is a black comedy sketch just waiting to happen. After Woodward does Larry King, 60 Minutes, etc. much of the useful information will be out. But maybe this book will be worth reading after all. Some important details may not make the major summation press turns. David Kay is apparently letting fly. And Judge Silberman, too. Some undeserved reputations such as Tenet's deputy John McLaughlin, now fluffing “The Situation Room”, may take a long overdue correction.
Just a week ago we vented about book fatigue. This one might be worth checking out.
September 26, 2006
ush seems to be enjoying himself. He can joke with Jon Stewart, sell his book, trash talk Armitage and slap Karzai around like a cheap American stooge. He knows there is nothing the Americans can do now.
He's played his cards reasonably well. When American power waxed in 2001-2003, he played the willow tree. Sensing that the Administration's floodtide has run its course and American retreat from the littoral is only a matter of time, he can now play the nationalist card and re-assert the Taliban as a tool of Pakistani statecraft.
If Bush is too dim to realize his reckless policies are in ruins even in Afghanistan so what? Pakistan increasingly openly again seeks to use the Taliban to secure Afghanistan as strategic depth against the real enemy in New Dehli. If the Americans want to sign a nuclear treaty with India so be it. Pakistan will make them pay in Afghanistan.
At this table Karzai is the amiable mark, the one who naively trusted in Dubya. But he is only the most naive among the other three. All Mush has to do is stall for more time and let events humble his dinner partners.
The problem of course is that he is the only one thinking in such clear terms at the table. No wonder he barely conceals his disdain for them.
September 25, 2006
nlike our friends at OSD and EOVP, when we are wrong we cop to it right away.
And we must say that the NIE key judgments as released on the DNI website were a pleasant surprise. Rather than than the usual lowest common denominator watered down and hedged product, the key judgments were surprisingly direct, succinct and without CYA carve outs. Naturally the whole NIE has yet to be released, but the key judgments suggest that perhaps some small good has come out of the institutional disasters and deck chair moving within the intelligence community.
he prolonged institutional bargaining over a NIE can be an arduous and soul destroying exercise usually resulting in a document less useful than the sum of its parts. George Carver's experience is only the most salient example of this long standing reality. Refreshingly, this document shows little of that.
We have to wonder what the WH thought would bolster their case here. Even the carve out that a “victory” in Iraq would deflate jihadi morale does little than state the obvious if anyone knew how to achieve “victory” (however defined) with the force posture in place. The draft IRAQ NIE or SNIE (special NIE, we are not sure yet what it is) that Harmon is calling on the WH to release to Congress apparently is even more grim.
One hopes that the rest of Negroponte's analytical product is this direct, unhesitant and clear (regardless of its conclusions vis-a-vis the political frames of the moment). Accuracy of course is the ultimate barometer. But concision, clarity and accessibility turn accurate insight into useable product by consumers.
Yet Dear Reader it is important to remember that an intelligence product is merely that. A product for policy makers to use or ignore at their pleasure. The Bush White House is not the first to ignore Community product. Kissinger famously used to commission assessments from the Community as make work exercises and to disguise his real policy focus and initiatives. Policy is ultimately made by elected officials not the Community. If the Nation will not hold policy makers responsible for their decisions that is the final judgment in our political system.
September 24, 2006
emptations abound today. Chris Wallace's smirk competes with yet another NIE telling us the obvious. Pete Schoomaker, Rumsfeld's hand selected Army Chief of Staff and a SOCOM forward leaner, takes a stand for an army on the breaking point. Dorgan begins to learn AgitProp by holding an unofficial hearing with a phalanx of operational commanders critiquing the Iraq fiasco. And the Pope can't stop apologizing it seems.
But to us, the most interesting development was Mel Gibson's linking the Administration with Paul Kennedy's imperial overstretch analysis via
the ancient Mayan civilization. Mel thinks the disproportionate underclass “volunteers” serving and sacrificing in Iraq are the equivalent of Mayan open heart ritual human sacrifice. Both signs of a civilization on the verge of dissolution.
elieve it or not, such views are not all that extreme at the core among non-Evangelical elements of the Religious Right. Minus the open heart sacrifice thing.
On the Hill we run into many conservative non-evangelical Christians. They tell the Stiftung more or less the same thing. The war on Iraq is a Neocon diversion. They lament Santorum's capture by the Neocons. They believe evangelical support for Israel has been manipulated. Instead, they would like the war redirected. The money should be spent on Americans, social renewal, neighborhoods, infrastructure and homeland security.
Of course, their war is the domestic culture war. Against Hollywood, Maxim magazine, the 1960s and cheap brown labor flooding in and threatening their Aryan ideals. But geopolitically they are scathing in critiques of Dubya. The troops should come home. The surveillance state should be scaled back, etc.
The Mayan analogy did not occur to them, of course. Mel's movie may jump start that meme, too, among the few who can sit through it. Porno violence of the Baby Jesus crucification is more arousing than watching brown people cutting hearts out of other brown people. Not only is the movie again in a weird language. But the brown people disconcertingly look like the waiters at Cancun and the drive-in attendant at McDonalds. Mel may have miscalculated. Among this portion of his core audience, the Brown Tide from the South is more terrifying than insurgents overseas.
The anti-Dubya sentiments that Mel is speaking for will likely remain muffled in this demographic. Those we have spoken to, including those who think Sam Brownback stands between America and (Mayan?) eclipse, keep their dislike for Bush intensely private. He is already a Man of the Past, with 2008 and 2012 the prizes. With Pavlovian reflexivity, they also run to the sound of gunfire when the names Pelosi, Hillary and Reid are mentioned. Yet some we talk to are checking that impulse after the first couple steps, knowing the cynicism behind such calls. They like power. They like control of the Hill. So they will hold their noses and do what must be done.
But start looking for Kukulcan memes to percolate. And Ixtab.
September 23, 2006
ice essay on Cheney in the latest NYRB
. There are moments of fresh insight here. Worth perusing. The narrative arc of Cheney failing upwards is progressing from the fringe. Aided doubtless by a shotgun blast to a lawyer's face. Perhaps Cheney's choice of Stephen Hayes to concoct the Cheney memoirs is driven more by necessity than we know.
idion introduces several interesting analytical frames but sadly does not pursue them as much as she might. One is how much Cheney's success really is owed to his admittedly bright wife. Another is how little we can take at face value the circumlocutions Cheney offers when he speaks in public. A case in point is Cheney's speech last year in which he discussed the importance of gratitude in life and politics. At the time our sense was it constituted a straightforward but coded assurance to Rumsfeld that he was safe at OSD. Didion suggests a novel alternative view that the speech may also have been warning.
The actual NYRB essay overall is itself an UR-text — beyond just the specific composition. Prefacing the essay is an unusually lengthy list of books Didion relied upon. Together with Didion's actual composition, the two combine to underscore how little the Nation understands such a powerful force in our national life. And after Hayes, most assuredly even less so.
September 21, 2006
rench leaks of the Saudi intelligence report about Bin Laden's alleged demise remain iffy. But the first thing that crossed our mind was recalling Rove's recent promises to House Republicans of an upcoming October surprise. Suddenly, the White House's six week emphasis on Bin Laden makes more sense — beyond the 5th anniversary of 9/11. But likely that assumes too much competence with this crowd.
September 20, 2006
hanks to Hugo (ostentatiously pronounced 'Yugo' by teleprompter-reading-newsroom-drones) Chavez and the UN, fitting coeval villians have arrived for the mindless simplicities of the Bush regime and their reductionist political narratives. We should steel ourselves from the temptation to revel in all the cheap theatrics. It surely was a good show — almost as if summoned from the ether by Robert Smigel in an Ibogaine haze or Vince MacMahon in his creative heyday.
Stolid Dubya appears on stage first, completely clueless how isolated he (and we) are in the world community. Chavez drops the proverbial Atomic Knee Drop on Dubya thanks to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's deliberately sedate set up.
ut it would be a mistake to underestimate what we saw. Our pathetic media again focuses in typical narcissistic absorption on Chavez's reception by Security Mom's, NASCAR Dads and mouthbreathers everywhere.
Chavez's audience was of course les autres
If Americans were smart we would realize that Chavez is a wake up call. And thank him.
His delivery that understandably appalls Americans was perfect. Like any arena performer, Chavez knows that an exaggerated stage persona is needed to reach the upper bleachers. Why do you think Jagger still prances around stages gesturing so manically?
Chavez also knows that he speaks what others wish they could say. Let's not delude ourselves. Across Asia, Europe, Africa, the Southern hemisphere and the Middle East — from government ministries to coffee shops, Chavez's siren call has a ready audience. Chavez is astute. He knows the Administration fuels a firestorm of anti-American sentiments globally. His grab for the limelight is his belief that he can be the charismatic leader with the resources to channel it all into a more coherent and purposeful liberation movement.
Chavez may be misguided that he is the man. He is not wrong that increasingly the globe yearns to topple an incompetently militaristic American metropole. Does anyone doubt that should another “terror” attack here succeed now much of the globe - yes, even in Europe, Asia and Canada, too — will applaud? Seeing in it the just results of Bush-promulgated American hubris, self absorption and preening self righteousness?
This is no defense of Chavez. We naturally reject Chavez's delivery and his personal and ideological agendas. But we think his call to overthrow the American metropole needs to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, the Administration is rudderless here as well. As the case with Ahmadinejad, North Korea, the insurgency within Islam itself, Beijing waiting in the wings, etc. the Administration has no effective policy. Cher Condi, like Dubya, can only respond with AgitProp. So one can see why Chavez feels confident. He is largely unopposed so far.
God still may have lingering affection for Fools, Drunks and the United States. (We have a trifecta there). Lord knows we push things.
So far we have unwittingly been the the best friend to the anti-American movement Chavez seeks to capture. As with Al Qaeda. It will be a long next two years.
September 19, 2006
reader responding to the Neocon post below sends in this Tony Judt item about Democrat fealty to Neocon memes: “Bush’s Useful Idiots --Tony Judt on the Strange Death of Liberal America.
The collapse of liberal self-confidence in the contemporary US can be variously explained. In part it is a backwash from the lost illusions of the 1960s generation, a retreat from the radical nostrums of youth into the all-consuming business of material accumulation and personal security. The signatories of the New York Times advertisement were born in most cases many years earlier, their political opinions shaped by the 1930s above all. Their commitments were the product of experience and adversity and made of sterner stuff. The disappearance of the liberal centre in American politics is also a direct outcome of the deliquescence of the Democratic Party. In domestic politics liberals once believed in the provision of welfare, good government and social justice. In foreign affairs they had a longstanding commitment to international law, negotiation, and the importance of moral example. Today, a spreading me-first consensus has replaced vigorous public debate in both arenas. And like their political counterparts, the critical intelligentsia once so prominent in American cultural life has fallen silent.J
udt's whole piece deserves a read. There is subtext within it of course. We don't think the death Judt laments is strange after all, once the subtext is understood. The materialism he highlights may be true in a narrow sense but ultimately a distraction. Judt closes with this, which reads like the Cliff Notes of the Stiftung's blog:
In Five Germanys I Have Known, Fritz Stern – a coauthor of the 1988 New York Times text defending liberalism – writes of his concern about the condition of the liberal spirit in America today. It is with the extinction of that spirit, he notes, that the death of a republic begins. Stern, a historian and a refugee from Nazi Germany, speaks with authority on this matter. And he is surely correct. We don’t expect right-wingers to care very much about the health of a republic, particularly when they are assiduously engaged in the unilateral promotion of empire. And the ideological left, while occasionally adept at analysing the shortcomings of a liberal republic, is typically not much interested in defending it.
It is the liberals, then, who count. They are, as it might be, the canaries in the sulphurous mineshaft of modern democracy. The alacrity with which many of America’s most prominent liberals have censored themselves in the name of the War on Terror, the enthusiasm with which they have invented ideological and moral cover for war and war crimes and proffered that cover to their political enemies: all this is a bad sign. Liberal intellectuals used to be distinguished precisely by their efforts to think for themselves, rather than in the service of others. Intellectuals should not be smugly theorising endless war, much less confidently promoting and excusing it. They should be engaged in disturbing the peace – their own above all.
September 18, 2006
s loyal readers of this humble blog know, we have long contended that Neoconservatism has always been at its root about Macht
and exultation in its possibilities.
Over the years, Neocons used and discarded techniques to critique Western society and then galvanize it. When hard headed empirical, quantitative analysis was in vogue during the operations research heyday of the 1960s and early 1970s, so was their output. Later, they switched to the broadbased, emotional/values marketing of the 1980s and again today. But it has always been about Power in the end.
o recognize the game afoot it is valauble to remember that Neocons are not all on the same strata. First there are the actual meme creators, such as Perle, the Kristols/Himmelfarb, Krauthammer on his good days, back then Jeane Kirkpatrick. Related to them are the policy practitioners, such as Wolfowitz, Shulsky, Abrams, etc. (A major slam against Wolfowitz among Neocons is that he has never written anything substantial on a theoretical level, etc.) Finally, we come to the mere marketers, pamphleteers and derivative thinkers. These people are often the best known — like Ken Adelman then and now, Jpod, Ciff May and the Corner and even academics like Fukuyama. The trick has always been to watch the creators and practitioners and not be distracted by the marketers' gyration.
Like any good ideological movement, in their prime, the Neocons built a big tent. Many well intentioned pundits and intellectuals understandably were and are attracted to the marketing messaging. Those that retain a sense of objectivity eventually suffer a shock of recognition when they glimpse that yawning chasm between the marketing message and the true nature and goals of the Neocon meme creators. So we all witness the mild comedy of the allegedly bright Fukuyama who wakes up one day and realized he has been played like a Sony Playstation Guitar Hero toy.
Not all of this Dear Reader is meant as cheap self indulgent observation (but we would be lying if we denied a sense of schadenfreude
(in C major)). We have the advantage of knowing, speaking and even working with Neocons over the years.
True, the Neocons helped foster aggressive revivals of Democratic Wilsonianism in the early 1980s in concert with resurgent Thatcherism. Understanding Soviet ideological combat back then, they knew how to respond in kind. Hence the sudden outpouring of various front groups, subsidized international “democratic” fora, the Jean Francois Revel fever (catch it!), etc. Indeed we helped in that effort.
The Stiftung fondly remembers how some cynically fanned the flames of easily stoked American idealism among some policy makers and hangers on. American idealism then and now has always been a song they loved to play. Translate Thomas Paine into tribal languages in Africa, Spanish, Russian and the like? Get right on it! You are a hero of American Labor! Things got so silly. As mentioned recently in comments here, then hero of the Right Lou Lehrman and Grover made trips to Angola to present a U.S. Constitution to Savimbi, etc.
Intelligent Neocons then and now understood this was window dressing. The goal was always about Power. Democratic nostrums were a deadly and purposeful weapon for ideological assault aimed at the heart of the Soviet enemy.
And we are glad it was used. But we should not miss the point. Underwrite ex-Somoza flunkies lounging around Miami pools in the name of democratic opposition to the Ortega brothers and Tomas Borge? The bomb at Eden Pastora's 1984 press conference spoke volumes. Don't forget that when Wolfowitz wrote the now infamous Defense Planning Guidance in the twilight of GHWB's term, his call for American hegemony and ascendancy was predicated on brutal calculations of power. (That officially disavowed DPG subsequently was resurrected in large measure intact in Dubya's calamitous first term).
The democratic pretext among the first tier of Neocons was always that, a tool. This explains in part why today the Neocons can spout pro-Democracy AgitProp while degrading its value abroad by actual policies based on expediency. It is, after all, just a tool. (The marketers and pamphleteers don't understand the implications anyway).
Happily for the Neocons and America, opposing Soviet expansionism fostered a close alignment between Neocon ideological AgitProp and hardheaded American national interests. The same cannot be said for today.
ll preface to this insightful observation: Bill Kristol's urging that Republicans should campaign on torturing military detainees
is sadly actually sound political advice given the base. This telling line speaks the simple truth about the AgitProp campaign: “The capitulation of neoconservatism to the evil it once fought against is now complete”.
We see the implications. Canadian intelligence officials fabricated evidence againt an innocent Muslim
to meet a perceived “political quota” of finding terrorists. The U.S. then sent him air freight to Syria for torture.
The inquiry, which focused on the Canadian intelligence services, found that agents who were under pressure to find terrorists after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, falsely labeled an Ottawa computer consultant, Maher Arar, as a dangerous radical. They asked U.S. authorities to put him and his wife, a university economist, on the al-Qaeda “watchlist,” without justification, the report said.N
Arar was also listed as “an Islamic extremist individual” who was in the Washington area on Sept. 11. The report concluded that he had no involvement in Islamic extremism and was on business in San Diego that day, said the head of the inquiry commission, Ontario Justice Dennis O'Connor.
Arar, now 36, was detained by U.S. authorities as he changed planes in New York on Sept. 26, 2002. He was held for questioning for 12 days, then flown by jet to Jordan and driven to Syria. He was beaten, forced to confess to having trained in Afghanistan — where he never has been — and then kept in a coffin-size dungeon for 10 months before he was released, the Canadian inquiry commission found.
O'Connor concluded that “categorically there is no evidence” that Arar did anything wrong or was a security threat.
eocon marketers and well meaning fellow travellers understandably could be stunned by Kristol's call for torture and its practical fallout. But as we have said, the Neocon impulse at its core was about Power (Macht
). The GWOT (tm) frees them of the need to hide behind pretenses of the past. Kristol's piece reveals a fleeting glimpse at the true agenda.
The AgitProp marketing campaign will continue in any event. They need to cultivate gentlemen patriots still. For two more years, their dim student remains in power. But just remember Kristol's expediency in pursuit of Power is Neoconservatism's true face. It always has been.
Like it or not.
September 17, 2006
e will let others continue blogging today about the inevitable compromise among Messrs. McCain, Warner and Graham and the Administration over Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The Heretik has some great commentary here
An agreement seems almost inescapable despite the posturing. The Administration in the end will get some form of retroactive cover (in a de facto but not de jure sense )for its torture 2001-2005. And that stain will seep into the national fabric like a black oil slick.
More on that shortly based on our own dealings with Senators Warner and McCain and What It All Means.
n the interim, today we invite you back to revisit with us the latest fallout of L'Affair HP
. We think this scandal is far more important than just a nuclear explosion at an icon of American industry.
Patricia Dunn, erstwhile Chairperson of the HP Board and the company reflect how far the twisted mores and ethos of Cheney, Gonzales and the NSA permeate our culture now. Dunn and HP simply ported the Administration's national climate of fear, reverence for authority, acceptance of surveillance and contempt for the law to the private sector.
For all the media attention, as you likely know, Dunn received only a token slap on the wrist. She will step down from Chairperson in January 07 and remain on the Board
. No other HP employee has faced any repurcussions. Two other directors have resigned over Dunn's disasterous witch hunt.
Today more leaks from HP (ironic, that) and the news ain't pretty. The House Commerce Committee demanded records and testimony on September 28th by Dunn and HP General Counsel Ann Baskins
. Congress may finally get around to getting some legislation done before recess beyond protecting horses. Dunn and HP's actions will be front and center for two days of hearings. The HP surveillance activities were far broader than initially revealed
. HP not only stole the identities and phone records of all its Directors and at least 9 reporters but apparently put them under video surviellance as well and even tried to plant trojan software on reporters' computers. HP also apparently ripped off the phone records of at least two of its own employees.
It looks to the Stiftung that HP employees Tony Gentilucci and Kevin Mazza of its Global Investigations unit in Boston are being set up as the fall guys.
Tony is an investagatory professional of experience and stature. Kevin has worked with Tony for several years. The Times story seems to try out the narrative that Tony and Kevin, with nefararious and shadowy figures, ran a rogue operation. We don't buy it.
Tony almost always works hand in glove with HP legal department and federal and state law enforcement entities daily. He is a security pro. False fronts/false flag operations would be a natural concept for him to consider. But it is highly unlikely — in fact, inconceivable to the Stiftung — that Tony and Kevin would undertake actions of this magnitude against people of this stature (if they indeed did, as alleged) without direct involvement of HP legal.
Dear Reader, HP legal does not freelance without dotting the i's and crossing the t's. Of all the legal shops around, HP legal runs things up the flag pole. And HP legal routinely supervises Global Investigations's activities to ensure that what it turns up will be valid in court. It is inconceivable that Baskins and Dunn did not know about these surveillance activities. We believe on the evidence so far in the public domain that they likely demanded it — even if of the 'will someone rid me of this meddlesome priest' variety.
Tony and Kevin may take the fall as loyal soldiers under the wall of silence credo. We hope they don't. We also hope they resist whatever subtle, deniable blandishments and temptations HP may dangle for their professional seppuku.
If the scandal stops with them, HP's fealty to the Administration's example will be complete. Like Abu Ghraib, only foot soldiers will be left holding the bag. Dunn, Baskins and other higher ups who planned, implemented and supervised this illegal fiasco would skate free.
Dunn's paranoia and disasterous witch hunt are all the more a reflection on her frame of mind and poor judgment when one considers that experts now weigh in that the director who admitted he spoke to the media in January 2006 didn't leak anything confidential. This item from IR Daily in a sidebar makes clear that no confidential leaking occurred.
In the HP case, former director George Keyworth has admitted to speaking to the CNET News.com website about the company’s strategy after attending a January 2006 board retreat. A review of the original CNET News.com article which sparked HP’s notorious probe finds that it contains no more information than had already been disclosed by the company or reported by the media.H
Indeed, shortly before the article ran, HP itself provided a wide range of information about the company’s strategy to investment analysts at the company’s major annual analyst day meeting on December 13, 2005 at which CEO Mark Hurd and five other senior executives gave analysts a complete overview of the company’s strategy. That was about three weeks before the board session in early January 2006.
In the CNET article, an anonymous source (presumed to be Keyworth) mostly reiterated what was already contained in the HP analyst day presentations. Other information in the article was neither new nor meaningful.
For example, the article said HP was frustrated with delays from Intel and planned to use more chips from its competitor, AMD. However, the Intel problems were not new. HP was being publicly attacked by Sun Microsystems at least two months earlier over the Intel Itanium chip delays. In November 2005, Sun issued a so-called ‘reality-check’ to clients about the issue.
The only “confidential” information in the story related to the location of the board retreat and the fact that directors worked from morning till 10:00 pm, with breaks only for meals. Hardly market-moving information and probably reassuring to many shareholders who might wonder what directors actually do.
Directors cannot reasonably be gagged from ever speaking about their companies to outsiders. Indeed, they can be valuable assets as ambassadors for the companies they help govern. In fact, HP has admitted using Keyworth repeatedly in the past to speak both on and off the record with the media.
P and Dunn are mirrors for the Administration's blizzard of fear, suspicion, and contempt for the law that now poisons so many of our institutions. That HP of all companies would be the first company exposed as succumbing is all the more shocking. Or should be. HP is the canary that croaked for all to see.
September 16, 2006
ooks” in today's America seem to fall from the skies like dead birds. Everyone has a book deal, is close to a book deal or resents someone else's book deal. The fever for shoveling a “book” in the Imperial City has reached comical levels. Almost like the Soviets in the 1980s who told Gorbachev that he needed to have a book on the American book shelves to be taken seriously.
o one walking into a Borders or Barnes & Noble and met with expensively paid-for-stacks of “books” at the door can possibly take them all in without a chuckle. Can they expect even the most avid reader to really read them? How could they? Who has the time? Even assuming the “books” were worth the effort. And they're not, of course. (There are exceptions, like Sid Blumenthal's latest, which is not only spot on but written in beautiful lyrical prose).
Personally, the Stiftung winces when our friends ask us if we have read their “book”. Or preface their pre-oration over drinks with the tedious “As I said in my book”, etc. Let us stop the fiction that these “books” today are worth the dead trees they are printed on. The “book” now is just a calling card to spam Brian Lamb for a slot on C-SPAN Channel 7 for the 2:00 AM program.
We are fast approaching the point where no one will actually write a book but we will all peddle dust jacket covers to each other. In fact, for at least 1/2 the books we get from friends, etc., we wouldn't know if that was the case, because we never crack them open, solemn promises to devour every word notwithstanding.
The torrent of word processed product about the Charlie Fox in Iraq is a prime example. We made it through COBRA II. But coming after Larry Diamond and others, that was the last straw. The story is known — the car wreck explodes in fiery doom, the Syracuse Expedition ends in tragedy, and America is burdened with a strategic folly of World Historical dimensions. So the Stiftung skipped various lunches and other opportunities to sit with the Tom Ricks and others. We've all seen that movie before, after all.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran's latest, “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” initially struck us that way
. He cut his teeth as one of the Post's technology writers way back when and then filed some interesting stories from Baghdad when the Big Bad Went Down. But what could he possibly add that hasn't been said before? Well it turns out, plenty.
What Chandrasekaran does is get under the hood of the CPA and name the names of the hitherto faceless incompetents who helped drive the American effort into the ditch. Years ago he already named Michael Ledeen's daughter as one of the naifs plucked from the Heritage Foundation job bank and put in charge of the Iraqi budget. (Ledeen confirmed that to the Stiftung, btw). And even before the 2004 election, Chandrasekaran's reporting revealed that ideological filters being applied to job applicants to the CPA. True believers and Kool Aid fanatics only, thank you very much.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans — restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.S
To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.
O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .
Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance — but had applied for a White House job — was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.
The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.
o we have that rarity in America today, a book that actually says something and adds to our sum of knowledge. Billmon also notes this book, and remembers something we forgot — the CPA couldn't even get its name right on the website
. And as the Stiftung recalls, they stole their website code from Brookings and were caught, too.
We will have to wait for a future social historian with the benefit of archival access and perspective to examine in detail why both the CPA debacle and Katrina are the inevitable two sides of the same ideological coin, symptomatic of an AgitProp regime disdainful of empirical reality.
September 15, 2006
he resurgence in Republican confidence about November is real. The Stiftung encounters it throughout the Republican apparat.
irst, the plummetting retail gas price, engineered by Big Oil continues to defuse the short term memory and angst of the American electorate. Has there ever been a more shameless and crassly overt manipulation of modern demos before an election? Oh wait, the terror alerts of 2004. Never mind.
Second, Democrats continue to be passive observers to politics and thus hostage to those who choose to shape political environments by AgitProp. They stumble into the Administration's frame of the day. We agree with our more learned pollster friends that history teaches if Bush is above 40% on election day, it will go a long way to undercutting a Democrat drive to retake the House.
Third, as Dana Milbank has noted, the Democrats still can't settle on a message while the Republican message of “Vote Democrat and Die” is simple, clear and effective.
For once, we would like to see the Democrats take a stand and fight on principle to win. One would think they learned from 2004 that playing not to lose is the path to defeat.
: Joe Scarborough has this hilarious piece in the WaPo
advising House Republicans to campaign against Dubya. Unfortunately, Joe doesn't realize that the House Republicans are as much of the problem as Dubya himself.
All of them must go. For the sake of the Republic and even a future Republican Party. Only in defeat will a Republican Party re-examine its mutation into bizarre Christian Socialist Authoritarianism. And if it won't or can't even then, fine, let it rot on the ash heap of history.
September 13, 2006
wo glimpses into the Administration's subconscious about Iran today.
Krauthammer delivers the usual prefecatory warnings that war with Iran will be fraught with grave risks before urging we jump over the cliff anyway
. Krauthammer, in the Stiftung's experience, speaks for a number within Cheney's office, the NSC and Pentagon.
And Ignatius reveals an interesting take away from a conversation with Dubya
, leaving him to believe that Dubya wants a coercive way short of all out war to escape the strategic American cul de sac in the Middle East. This would not only reflect the Hadley, Rice and James Baker point of view but also the Newt/Ledeen regime change camps', too. The triple play is that such a line also happily supports the RNC strategy to suppress talk of military campaigns and keep the focus on terrorism for the Fall elections.
Ignatius may be a solid foreign affairs writing now and then yet his column today strikes us as naive. He is certainly correct that discussion of military strikes on Iran is reaching a fever pitch among the chattering classes and even within lower levels of the Administration. Yet his column serves the purpose of sending the Dubya peace message to distraught security Moms everywhere, vital to keep the focus this Fall in terrorism, not Iraq or Iran.
Even on its own terms, Dubya himself has dug the hole in which we find ourselves with Iran. If he speaks now of peace it is because he himself has blown his other options. And Ignatius surely will recall as well as we do the outright lies of omission Dubya told the nation, claiming he did not have a “war plan” on his desk when he was intimately working with Franks and Rumsfeld on the disasterous campaign into Iraq. Or his other protestations of peaceful intent in 2002 and early 2003.
At this moment, however, ceteris paribus
we still think strikes on Iran before 2009 are 40%. Not because Dubya is a man of peace but because he has so recklessly squandered American strategic capital. An Iranian campaign must still likely await the “National Greatness” of McCain et al.
Sid Blumenthal's item on the unfolding regime crisis of the Bush Administration and its implications for Republican politics
September 11, 2006
makes several important points. As You Know Who would say, read the whole thing.
We only would suggest one caveat, which is that the Administration's undoing likely was its incompetence, not the radical Christian Socialist Authoritarian agenda per se
. The latter has been tarnished by the incompetence. As much as we wish it were otherwise, the desire for a change agent today in the American body politic could just as easily lead towards a restoration of the Republic or to a new Republican Administration with a Competent Face.
Much remains in the balance. More to come later today.
e spent the day canvasing with Imperial City savants peering at the entrails of yesterday's primary elections. By all accounts, the entrails signal that the Gods' determination to revoke their Mandate of Heaven from the Bush regime is unchanged. Although even now, we are struck by how tenative, scared and rudderless are the Democrats. Color us superstitious, but we can't help shake a feeling that even with celestial backing, the Democrats could still blow it.
We haven't had a chance to read it yet, but here is Sid Blumenthal's book How Bush Rules
. We look forward to sitting down with it this weekend.
September 10, 2006
ig anniversary dates in our hyper-real media age always fill us with dread. Does it work that way for you?
This morning the cable “news” channels invoked the Phil Spector Wall of Sound approach to brow beat us incessantly with manufactured emotional manipulation. The graphics, the vocabulary and the interviews use tragedy and an audience still prone to empathy like a veteran rock band. The good veteran touring bands in their heyday all knew when to turn on the klieg lights in a stadium. Deploying the lights during one of their hits summoned the audience into a mass paroxym of synthetic joy. The cable channels know that 9/11 is the ultimate klieg light for manipulating our emotions.
Naturally, we prefer to remain like the last human in Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. The difficulty is, however, when the mass emotional audience of pod people sense a non-conformist and turn in unison, point and do that pod person shriek.
e'll choose to commemorate 9/11 in a more personal way. Fear not, Dear Reader, this is not an effort to inject the Stiftung into the events of that day. Or recant ad nauseum our personal ties to the tragedy and the landmarks. We'll leave that to more sociopathic pundits.
Instead, what struck us about 9/11 the social and political event was driving on 95 south from the City a few days afterwards. On every bridge and road across 95 for hundreds of miles there were literally thousands of American flags, bed sheets hand painted in honor of the NYFD and PD, signs praying for the fallen. Driving away from that still painful Hole In The Sky down 95, it was sometimes impossible to drive well because of the tears, seeing such spontaneous, overwhelming love, sorrow and solidarity. The outpouring was spontaneous - no media figure, no talking points, no websites commanded these acts. All of us driving looked over unapologetically to others in cars around us and saw them with tears as well.
We were all One. Not because of cable news demographics or programming decisions. We were all genuinely and instinctively united.
For us, that is probably the ultimate damnable act of this regime. The Administration purposefully and systematically destroyed that unity. In so doing, with all the mendacity and incompetence we've noted at length here, the Administration perhaps lost this war even as it had just begun. The Stiftung can not recall a regime in American history so determined to wage war at Home and Abroad at the same time, both to disasterous effect.
Damn them all to Hell.
September 08, 2006
e'll leave to others the odious task of sifting through the Cheney transcript on 'Press the Meat' this morning. Cheney's predictable delusions evoked memories of George C. Scott in the war room. Russert's faux aggressiveness (where were all these follow-up questions in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005?) induced bile.
Instead, we just note how close Cheney came to pulling off essentially a covert, special access coup d'etat within the United States on behalf of an unfettered Executive. Aided and abetted by a Congress determined to commit constitutional seppuku
. What makes it all the more appalling is that it was a coup d'etat by incompetents to boot.
If Iraq was only marginally better, it would have worked. Even now, the Stiftung is amazed that more Americans are not enraged at what has transpired. The usual reliable voices in the progressive blogosphere are serving up strong, jolting riffs of righteous indignation. But where is the ground swell on mainstreet?
As we understand things talking to some of our pollster friends that Readers may see on cable TV now and then, much of the simmering anger in the country is largely becuse Iraq is not going well. The rest of Cheney's agenda? When Dubya fessed up to the secret prisons this week, it was a confirmation of this regime and its views on secrecy, rejection of the rule of law, disdain for accountability and embrace of expediency uber alles
. Yet that news, like the signing statements, the illegal surveillance, etc. does not seem to impact the country. Apparently GULAGs are okay if brown and dark people are in them.
Perhaps things can change if the Democrats win in November. We are pinning our hopes on that. But listening to Cheney today, we wonder if the McCain camp and the young cadres across the Administration still inebriated with Executive unaccountability will draw a different lesson: the American people will happily surrender their Constitution if they perceive the Usurper as competent.
Billmon in “Pest Control” we think has it right
September 07, 2006
about the corporate “synergy” impetus behind the ABC/Disney 9/11 movie car wreck. No different than the slipstream programming Fox does to promote and benefit from its Talk Radio anchors, etc.
In our debased times, such a marketing move ordinarily would get accolades for “smart programming”. It is Disney's shame, however, that they elected to do so covertly and tamper with a national trauma on the date of its anniversary. That Disney knowingly did this mere weeks from a pivotal election compounds Disney's deserved scorn.
Via Atrios, this review from Chicago Sun Times, which says of the ABC movie
Controversy could boost viewership, except “Path” is the dullest, worst-shot TV movie since ABC's disastrous “Ten Commandments” remake. It substitutes shaky handheld cameras and dumb dialogue for craftsmanship. It could not be more amateurish or poorly constructed unless someone had forgotten to light the sets.
he HP illegal surveillance scandal
continues to widen. Dunn's tenure as non-executive Chairman of the firm appears doomed. HP's initial efforts to deny there was a scandal and Dunn's bizarre Captain Queeg-like actions are textbook examples of how not to run an organization. Her initiating a secret surveillance program and refusing to brief the rest of the board about it poisons the entire organization. Her resort to illegal furtive actions speaks loudest about her insecurity with the rest of the Board and her unsuitability to remain as their Chairman.
You should note that Dunn does continue to get one deferential treatment from the media: they keep calling what HP did “pretexting” — i.e., pretending to be someone else to get by misrepresentation their records and information. This is, in fact, simple fraud.
If any of you, Dear Reader, were to call HP and pretend to be Pat Dunn and order computers and the like using her name and social security number, etc. no one would give you the polite blandishment of engaging in “pretexting”. HP would be screaming fraud from the rooftops. So, too, in this case.
Unfortunately for the Dunns of the world, the California Attorney General has now confirmed unambiguously that crimes were committed and charges likely will be brought. He said “It's unclear exactly who is liable and how severe it is and who had specific knowledge.” The NY Times is confirming that HP spied on at least 9 reporters and the spying began before the alleged January 2006 leak, including its own John Markoff, as well as reporters from the WSJ, CNet and elsewhere. Groklaw has a terrific roundup
We hope that AT&T, the newspapers and the individual reporters spied upon and any others subjected to this fraudulent activity supplement the criminal proceedings with civil lawsuits. HP must pay the stiffest possible price for its illegal activities.
David Neiwert has long studied the authoritarian implications of what passes now for modern 'conservatism'.
September 06, 2006
He has yet another terrific item about the growing strident cries of 'fascism' coming from that quarter. While “Islamofascism” itself is not a new epithet, it has risen to the fore in American politics relatively recently. David notes the famous Huey Long quote: “Sure we'll have Fascism here, but it will come as an anti-Fascism movement.”
As we noted on his blog, we agree 100% with the diagnosis and analysis. Some of the pamphleteers at NRO, etc. and most of the larger passive audiences may not know or care about the historical inapplicability. Even if some of the actual meme creators do. The latter are happy to see “Islamo-fascism” in use precisely because of its deliberate and precise non-sensical amorphous qualities.
At the risk of going to the well too often, VDH proves the first point. Defending the term, he makes all sorts of ahistorical errors, claiming falsely that “anti-semitism” was always a quality of fascism.
As you doubtless know Dear Reader, other than Germany and Hitler's personal biologic obsession, in fact, fascist regimes were historically indifferent and even quite tolerant of Jews. This is true from the origins of facism in post- 1918 Italy through 1945 to Hungary and many of the movements in Eastern and Central Europe.
We actually doubt that Hanson understands historical fascism. Much like Jonah Goldberg. Herein lies the point. When Hanson openly suppresses and elides over differences among various elements in Islamic politics today — noting that they don't matter because they all dislike the West — he shows the pyschological value and purpose of the using the term today. It demands that differences and comparative analysis be dismissed. In this way, the term is a deliberate AgitProp manipulator to prepare the audience for a war of annihilation.
It is an old device with proven historical consequences. Wolfram Wette's recent (and engrossing) The Wehrmacht: History, Myth and Reality
demonstrates, use of amorphous and deliberately blurring terminology was an essential ingredient in the pyschological conditioning and preparation of the average German solider prior to launching them on the war of extermination in June 1941. The terms then were “Bolshevik”, etc. But the point remains - the regime relied upon generalized, blurry and on close scrutinty self-contradictory propogandistic terminology to break down discrimination, classification, rationality and judgment. As prelude to amoral military action.
ewt's WSJ op ed today amplifies another simmering and now prominent twin meme: use of Civil War metaphors to call for total mobilization.
We saw another example in Condi's otherwise inexpicable burp the other day analogizing today's fiasco in the Middle East to a time when former General George B. McClellan opposed Lincoln in the 1864 election by campaigning on a platform to negotiate an end to the Civil War. Civil War analogies have been percolating among the pundit class for some time. As we have noted, VDH himself has lectured flag officers on the parallels going back years.
Invoking the Civil War now within the context of negotiations is striking and not accidental because it was Sherman's destructive march through Georgia and capture of Atlanta that effectively shut down all negotiation talk in the North. Sherman also is famous for insisting that only Total War and scorched earth would defeat the South, with complete destruction of all of its infrastructure and property.
This then is the bookend to the Islamofascist meme — both are a siren call to total war, to unconstrained destruction, to mass mobilization, to mass AgitProp indoctrination. And mass murder.
As we noted before, we have not a little direct experience with Newt and his thinking. Newt in professorial mode over dinner in private likely would understand why fascism is an inappropriate historical analogy. Newt the politician simultaneously would seize on the label's political marketing value. This is why Newt is re-launching the WW III meme. Besides seeking personal branding differentiation contra Woolsey and his 2001/2003 WW IV meme. Newt the politician naturally sees WW III as a simpler and more direct marketing label. It obviates need for Woolsey's diversionary subtext explanation that WW III was the Cold War. KISS, baby. Keep it simple.
We believe that Newt coyly and deliberately uses in the WSJ again his caveat that a Reagan-esque containment and rollback of Iran, North Korea, Syria, etc. would be “a first step”. Calls for a Civil War-esque re-imagined Total War mobilization are not designed to subside into mere containment, as Newt knows.
Beyond the tactical engagements for November 2006, this then is the ground work being laid for the post-Bush world. A Total War by definition is one waged without discrimination. Coupled with Sherman-like destructiveness, regardless whether the target is said to be Iran proper, it will inevitably spread across the region and ignite portions if not almost all the Islamic world with its 1 billion Muslims.
These are the stakes as we see them.
September 06, 2006
t what point does the supply of Friedmans exhaust itself?
Parliament speaker: Iraq has months to avert collapse
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — On a day when bombs claimed at least 14 lives in Iraq and dozens more bodies were found in Baghdad, a top politician warned Wednesday that the country will collapse by year's end if warring groups fail to reconcile.W
Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab, urged his colleagues to support national reconciliation, the prime goal of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government.
“We have three to four months, and if the country does not survive this, the boat will sink,” al-Mashhadani said during a parliament session after some lawmakers criticized parliamentary procedures.
hy so glum? Maybe this:
On Wednesday, 34 bodies were found dumped in Baghdad, all showing signs of torture, a mode of killing that authorities believe is sectarian-related.ABC is also reporting that Iraqi August death tolls reported from Iraqi morgues were just trippled
The discovery came a day after seven bullet-riddled bodies were found in Baghdad and two days after 40 bodies turned up in the same condition, a police official said.
A Pentagon report issued Friday found that more than 1,600 people were killed in cold-blooded “execution-style” slayings in July alone, a new high.
from the initially reported 550 deaths reported by the U.S. military to over 1,500 according to the Iraqis.
September 05, 2006
P's filing with the SEC this morning is a blaring document of both peevish defensiveness and a confession that HP and Patricia Dunn, its non-executory Chairwoman, face legal troubles. All buried within the dull format of SEC filing legalise
As mentioned previously, Dunn engaged an outside investigatory firm to track down innocuous leaks to the media from the Board of Directors against the advice of board member Tom Perkins, head of the Corporate Governance Committee on the Board. That firm then hired itself a “consultant” who used “pretexting” — i.e., pretending to be all the actual members of the Board of Directors — to contact email, phone and cell companies and obtain surreptitiously their billing and call records.
P was forced to make a SEC filing this morning because HP Board Member Tom Perkins, founding member of the storied Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, resigned at a heated board meeting in May over what he saw as illegal and improper action by Dunn. Under U.S. law, HP must file with the SEC when a board member resigns with the company over company policy and explain why he resigned.
HP refused to make its obligatory filing file for months since May. When Perkins resigned, HP merely said it wished him well but refused to explain why he resigned. Perkins was incensed at HP's desire to cover up its covert surveillance and hired outside counsel to look into HP's activities and its refusal to admit what it had done. This forced HP's hand.
The SEC filing today in the dull and studied language of SEC speak finally fessed up that it and its counsel “could not confirm that the techniques used by the outside consulting firm and the party retained by that firm complied in all respects with applicable law.”
n many ways, Dunn is the mirror image of Gonzales and the White House. Dunn refused to ask the members of the Board directly whether they had contacted media and instead opted for covert surveillance against the law. And when caught, Dunn sought to bluff past legal requirements and bury her misdeeds. Tom Perkins' stand forced this eggregious action into the limelight.
But it is no surprise when an Administration believes it can disregard legal constraints with impunity and spy on Americans in the name of “fighting terror”. Or engages in legal withhunts against “leaks”. It was inevitable that corporate America take notice; the atmosphere has been set and the public conditioned to despise “leaks”. Just as with the Administration, courts here will need to send a swift and powerful message to HP and corporate America that such illegal activities will not be tolerated.
Another sign that the Administrations' baleful influence extends far into American society.
September 05, 2006
riends of the Stiftung know of our personal interest in this story and why.
To catch a leaker, Hewlett-Packard's chairwoman spied on the home phone records of its board of directors
. After her spying, when she confronted the director, the director said to fellow directors, “I would have told you all about this. Why didn’t you just ask?”
hat the Chairperson of the company, Patricia Dunn, would resort to illegal and surreptitious spying on the company's Board of Directors to ferret out the source of an innocuous blind quote to the press speaks volumes about how the Bush Administration's ethos has expanded into the heart of the private sector. That this happens at HP, famous for its unflinching commitment to a humane and different work place ethos — the famous “HP Way” — is also sobering.
We applaud Tom Perkins for his principled and courageous stand.
When Dunn “told fellow HP director Tom Perkins of her plans to investigate, Perkins, the chair of HP's corporate governance committee, told Dunn to simply ask the directors who was the source cited in the story and to seek an apology. Perkins was stunned to learn at a board meeting in May that Dunn had went ahead with the investigation, nonetheless.” Perkins resigned that day when he learned that Dunn had engaged in illegal surveillance of fellow Board members.
As made clear in the Newsweek item, Dunn never even asked the Board Members who made the comments before engaging in this illegal surveillance. HP's attempt to deny this activity to the SEC for months also indicates its shame.
Here's Techdirt's reaction to the situation
September 04, 2006
DH-ism from the Oval Office continues
. “Bin laden and his terrorist's allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them,” the president said before the Military Officers Association of America and diplomatic representatives other countries that have suffered terrorist attacks. “The question is `Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?'”
he Administration's strawman is particularly weak. No one across the political landscape wants anything other than Bin Laden killed and his organization vanquished. Naturally, the media do not point this out.
But in fact, it is the Administration that has not listened to Bin Laden. As Michael Scheuer made clear in his first and best book as “Anonymous”, the Administration's incompetent and reckless Iraqi fiasco is exactly what Bin Laden wanted — a failed American military expedition into the heart of the Muslim Umma. The Administration's current apocalyptic civilizational war messaging further feeds the radicalization of the region, marginalizes moderates and brings Bin Laden's dreams closer to fruition.
The Bush Administration and Israel together are the two best sources for energizing and legitimizing the radical message. Anders Strindberg has an interesting item about Al Qaeda's benefit from the disasterous Israeli aggression against Lebanon “The Enemy of My Enemy.”
Strindberg does something the Administration refuses to do, which is differentiate between Al Qaedi's brand of Salafist radicialism and the roots of Hamas and Hezbollah activism.
So it is Israel and the Administration that has forged an alliance between what should have been hostile and contentious organizations and agendas. And that would be clear from actually listening to Bin Laden. Bush said today “The terrorists who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001, are men without conscience, but they're not madmen,” he said. “They kill in the name of a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs that are evil but not insane.”
A shame that those who act on our behalf may not justify that last carve out. And the results have been disasterous. As Andrew Bacevich notes in the same issue of “The American Conservative”
The Islamic Way of War
Muslims have stopped fighting on Western terms—and have started winning.
by Andrew J. Bacevich
In Iraq, the world’s only superpower finds itself mired in a conflict that it cannot win. History’s mightiest military has been unable to defeat an enemy force of perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 insurgents equipped with post-World War II vintage assault rifles and anti-tank weapons.
September 03, 2006
e thought it might be interesting to see what VDH is up to after a week of AgitProp from Dubya, Cheney and Rumsfeld all pushing his “This is 1938” meme. One would think the Bard from Fresno would be thrilled to see his siren call for civilizational war given such props from The Boys.
What Dubya et al. said this week is old news to you, Dear Reader. You have suffered through that ahistorical silliness from The Corner for a year now. Only in this hour of desperation does it migrate to the Oval Office.
Yet VDH celebrates this triumph of his banal ahistorical concoctions in an odd fasthion. His latest, “The Waiting Game”, can only be described as a more incoherent and rambling screed than usual.
The sloppy linking of all things Islamic with all things Hitler has been cranked up to the proverbial 11.
VDH is left now sputtering contingent “ifs, ands and therefores” before he reveals the true purpose of his piece. At the end, he now seemingly aches for another attack on the U.S. “Given Iraq, Afghanistan, and the acrimony at home — so similar to the debate right before Pearl Harbor over the earlier discounted fascist threat to the United States — we apparently are waiting for the enemy to strike again, before renewing the offensive.”
As a reader, you know we have all enjoyed mocking VDH semi-regularly. Yet smirking aside, just remember this kind of idiocy is what Dick Cheney reads and repeats.
September 02, 2006
istani appears to be throwing in the towel
. “I will not be a political leader any more,” he told aides. “I am only happy to receive questions about religious matters.”
e will not have long to wait to see how the White House and the Cliff Mays of the world spin this. Likely a two pronged spin. On one hand, they will suggest this is a good thing — removing Sistani and his annoying moderation allows moral clarity to reign in Iraq. On the other hand, they will say that Sistani was the key to victory and his sabotage by Ned Lamont, Jim Webb and defectors like Chris Shays destroyed victory when it was within our grasp. Sistani, watching Fox News, could not stomach the thought of a Democrat victory this fall and thus opened the flood gates to civil war.
Or something like that. Naturally, this also explains the 24% decline in Fox News viewership compared to last year
. Cal Thomas' white trash demographic is letting the side down. When will their treason ever end ?
unday Sistani's assistant, Sheikh Hassan Mohammed Mahdi al-Jawadi, was assassinated
ewt's concern about the effectiveness of airstrikes in dealing with Iran
we think is misunderstood. Newt says:
“I am opposed to a military strike on Iran because I don't think it accomplishes very much in the long run,” said Mr. Gingrich, who supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and has been a strong defender of Israel.N
“I think if this regime [in Iran] is so dangerous that we can't afford to let them have nuclear weapons, we need a strategy to replace the regime,” Mr. Gingrich said. “And the first place you start is where Ronald Reagan did in Eastern Europe with a comprehensive strategy that relied on economic, political, diplomatic, information and intelligence” means.
ewt's recognition of the counter productive impact of mere strikes is no surprise. Newt is genuinely a bright guy. He is also doubtless getting informed advice from inside the Pentagon apart from his formal ties to OSD. He has always had excellent connections with the uniformed military. Since we have known him, he cultivated those relationships over the decades, assiduously courting and briefing young up and coming officers. Many now hold flag rank.
oreover, what Newt said here is in keeping with some Neocon thinking as well. Not all of them are as reckless as Kristol et al. Michael Leeden, for example, said much the same thing to the Stiftung personally. He opposes airstrikes, believing them to be Clinton-esque gestures. Instead they want the real deal - regime change.
We caution another thing to keep in mind based on the time we have spent around Newt. It is important to understand how Newt thinks and formulates his ideas. He is not a static, linear thinker. He often articulates ideas as works in progress, and continues to refine and elaborate on them, even abandon them, while he seeks to find the target he desires. To those expecting more traditional static hierarchical exposition, such mental processes can be bewildering. (This is one reason we believe his Lts. in the House became exasperated and tried their revolt).
So we would not recommend putting much store in Newt's alternative suggestion of a 'Containment Plus' strategy of Reagan rollback ala Angola, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan. Newt knows that was the capstone of 4 decades of containment and a faltering Soviet regime.
Newt is also unlikley willing to give 'World War III' (his formulation) and a nuclear Iran that long to be contained. Particularly because it explicitly assumes that Persia, like the Soviets, is a rational actor susceptible to traditional deterrence theory. That assumption is anathema to his entire 'WW III' motif and his compulsive need for frenetic action.
We have not spoken to Newt but it would be no surprise should he amend his thinking thusly: airstrikes are ineffective and counterproductive; a nuclear Iran threatens Western civilization; we can not wait decades to hope they mellow; ergo, if this is WW III, we must mobilize fully, and begin a fully mass army offensive to change the regime in Tehran. Newt is never going to embrace 'realism' — it is not in his DNA.
Given his evolutionary mode of thinking, we suspect the above quote will molt and become a call for America to mobilize, militarize and wage destructive war on a WW III scale. Such a campaign will inevitably result in near genocidal Dresden-like violence
. In this, should he articulate this progression, Newt would not be that far off from Michael Scheuer.
Remember, you heard it here first.