More rotten tomatos on offer 31 July 2007Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Culture of Death, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Iraq War, Pakistan, WAR!.
Pimp, promoter and slap happy princelings…
HH: Mr. Burns, some anti-war critics have begun to attack General Petraeus as being not credible and not trustworthy for a variety of reasons, one he gave me an interview, he’s given other people interviews that they consider to be partisan, whatever. Do you believe he’ll be as trustworthy as anyone else speaking on the war?
JB: I do. I can only speak for my own personal experience, and there definitely was in the, in the Vietnam war, there was a failure of senior generals and the joint chiefs of staff to speak frankly about the Vietnam war early enough.
There has definitely been some Pollyannaish character to the reporting of some of the generals here over the past three or four years, although in my own view, knowing virtually all of those generals, I don’t think that that was out of fealty to the White House or Mr. Rumsfeld. It’s a difficult and complex question which we really don’t have time to discuss here.
But to speak of General Petraeus in particular, General Petraeus is 54 years old. Let’s look at this just simply as a matter of career, beyond the matter of principle on which I think we could also say we could expect him to make a forthright report. At 54, General Petraeus is a young four star general, who could expect to have as much as ten more years in the military. And he has every reason to give a forthright and frank report on this. And he says, and he says this insistently, that he will give a forthright, straightforward report, and if the people in Washington don’t like it, then they can find somebody else who will give his forthright, straightforward report.
He is not without options on a personal basis, General Petraeus, and I think he, from everything I’ve learned from him, sees both a professional, in the first place, and personal imperative to state the truth as he sees it about this war.
So, if we are mean to him he will up and leave and take a greased palm love ’em or leave ’em corporate job? That is what I get off that sell job from John Burns. Dumb blackmail. Should work with the Democrats in congress.
HH: Speaking more broadly now, in the American higher command, is there optimism that the surge, given enough time, will bring the kind of stability to Iraq that we all hope it achieves?
JB: You know, optimism is a word which is rarely used around here. The word they would use is realism. You have to look at what the plan is. The plan is that with the surge, aimed primarily at al Qaeda, who are responsible for most of the spectacular attacks, the major suicide bombings, for example, that have driven the sectarian warfare here, the belief is, or the hope is, that with the surge, they can knock al Qaeda back, they can clear areas which have been virtually sanctuaries for al Qaeda, northeast, south, west and northwest of Baghdad, and in Baghdad itself, and then have Iraqi troops move in behind them. The problem here is time. How much time does the U.S. military have now, according to the American political timetable, to accomplish this? I think most generals would say, indeed have said, most serving current generals here have said that a drawdown, which took American troops from the 160,00 level they’re at now quickly down to 100,000 or 80,000 over the next, shall we say, year to eighteen months, that’s too fast. If you do that, I think they would say, though they don’t put it quite this frankly, that this war will be lost for sure. Given a little bit more time, they think that it is realistic to think that the Iraqi forces can move in behind them, and can take over the principal responsibilities for the war. The problem is, of course, that American generals have been saying this now for four years, and as we know, the Congress is beginning to run out of patience with that.
But I think that they have a good plan now, at least if there is any plan that could save the situation here, any plan that could bring a reasonably successful end to the American enterprise here, it’s probably the plan they have right now.
The Pentagon should send John Burns a check. It was hard to select an excerpt… there is so much propaganda in the interview. A few truths near the end of the interview, but squeezed out.
Promoter (Ignatius’ Waziristan on September 10 column via RCP):
Crumpton [a former CIA officer who was one of the heroes of the agency’s campaign to destroy al-Qaeda’s safe haven in Afghanistan in late 2001 – those are Ignatius’ words, not mine — Mcat] proposed a detailed plan last year for rolling up these sanctuaries, which he called the “Regional Strategic Initiative.” It would combine economic assistance and paramilitary operations in a broad counterinsurgency campaign.
In Waziristan, U.S. and Pakistani operatives would give tribal warlords guns and money, to be sure, but they would coordinate this covert action with economic aid to help tribal leaders operate their local stone quarries more efficiently, say, or install windmills and solar panels to generate electric power for their remote mountain villages.
oh please. Don’t strain my credulity quite so forcefully. We prattle one thing, we wage a sort of low level scorched earth.
Intervening in another Muslim country is risky, to put it mildly. That’s why a successful counterinsurgency program would need Pakistani support, and why its economic and social development components would be critical. The concept should be President Kennedy’s “Alliance for Progress” to counter radicalism in Latin America, rather than “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
The United States can begin to take action now against al-Qaeda’s new safe haven. Or we can wait, and hope that we don’t get hit again. The biggest danger of waiting is that if retaliation proves necessary later, it could be ill-planned and heavy-handed — precisely what got us in trouble in Iraq.
BTW, Mr Ignatius is smiling a lot these days. Yet another “spy novel” out, set in the ME, with all his ezy squeezy insider-ish knowledge (Tenet gave him a blurb, how close his writing is to the real thing, ooo!) … and I just heard a movie deal too.
Life is good. War pays off. The Wapo is clover and Ignatius is a pig in clover.
… and those slap happy princelings:
[I]t’s no exaggeration to say that the oil-rich states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—are enjoying a transformational moment, one that could deeply affect the region if not the world. Buoyed by unprecedented oil prices, these states are awash with cash.
In the past five years, they have earned a staggering $1.5 trillion for their petroleum, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF). And there’s no end in sight: by the close of 2007, the IIF says, the GCC will have picked up an additional $540 billion, more than the combined exports of Brazil, India, Poland and Turkey
All that green has turned the once backward region into the world’s 16th largest economy, according to IIF. And if present trends continue, the GCC zone could become the world’s sixth largest by 2030. What’s most remarkable, however, is how the new money is being spent. The gulf has experienced oil booms before, but rarely managed to capitalize on them; three decades ago an oil windfall helped states modernize infrastructure and health services, but many leaders
blew much of the money on defense or vanity projects, or simply hid profits in Western banks.
Again, straining my credulity. Things have changed?
Today, by contrast, the gulf’s farsighted, business-minded political leaders are joining with their more mature and innovative private sectors to ensure the money is wisely spent. Led by Dubai, which is fast becoming a modern banking and financial-services hub, cities in the region are embracing reform and charting an ambitious agenda for the future. “A new gulf is dawning,” says Edmund O’Sullivan, the Dubai-based editorial director of the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED). “And it’s moving much faster and smarter than it did in the 1970s.”
Please… it leaks out from time to time, the mini rebellions against the various royal families, rebellions we are all too happy to help put down. One in Qatar, iirc, just on the eve of our invasion of Iraq.
When the US Corps of Army Engineers was working on the bathrooms of the Kuwaiti royals following GW1 I threw up my hands – and my hands are still up there, in the air. In disgust.
Force morgue at Baghdad airport – photo via IraqSlogger
PBS really does not like Bill Moyers… I had caught this interview on his show last week with Fawaz Gerges… and wanted it for counterpoint to the sludge above… Plug in “Moyers Journal” to their lousy search engine and you get… nothing. Plug in “Moyers” and you get a hodge podge of the Wide Angle program. What a mess we are in.
Nevertheless, here is a snip from the Moyers interview:
FAWAZ A. GERGES: In fact, if you ask any American soldier in Iraq, “Who is the enemy?” he would tell you al Qaeda. And this has done a great deal of damage to relations between the American military and the Iraqi population.
BILL MOYERS: How come?
FAWAZ A. GERGES: The overwhelming number of insurgents or resistance fighters are Iraqis. They are not al Qaeda. al Qaeda is a critical component, is a tiny, small, critical component in the Iraqi equation, less than five percent of all insurgents and resistance fighters. So, while al Qaeda is very lethal, is very deadly, it has carried out some of the devastating attacks in Iraq, in fact, the United States is facing a highly complex and determined resistance or insurgency numbering in the tens of thousands, most of whom have nothing to do with al Qaeda.
BILL MOYERS: Just the other day– the United States launched an offensive about 30 miles north of Baghdad. And helicopter attacks killed– 17 of what the military said– were al Qaeda gunmen. But after the military left, the BBC went in and the villagers told the BBC that these were not any way connected to al Qaeda. They were village guards trying to prevent attacks from the very insurgents he talked about. What do you tell those young men–
FAWAZ A. GERGES: It’s one thing to say that we have to prepare our soldiers and officers to fight a highly complex and nuanced war, but when you have the president himself, day after day, time and again, keep saying that this war against al Qaeda, yes, there is al Qaeda. But, in fact, according to American military commanders, the bulk of attacks that are taking place in Iraq are basically carried out by Shiite and Sunni militia in revenge attacks against each other.
Yet the administration keeps telling us it’s al Qaeda, al Qaeda, al Qaeda.
Best thing since global communism. NO question.
FAWAZ A. GERGES: You know, Bill, the question on the table is not whether al Qaeda in Iraq exists or not. It does exist. It has carried out some of the deadliest, lethal attacks against mainly civilians. I would go further and say based on everything that we have seen, in fact, according to American military commanders up til the last few months, even if al Qaeda in Iraq were to be removed entirely from the Iraq equation, if tomorrow, Bill, we said, “We remove al Qaeda,” the strategic predicament of the United States would not change dramatically.
BILL MOYERS: How so?
FAWAZ A. GERGES: And that’s the question? If our reading of the situation is correct that the United States is facing a complex and a highly determined insurgency or armed resistance, then the question is you’re facing tens of thousands– with probably millions of supporters in terms of families and neighborhoods. And this is why unless we understand that this is basically a political problem and, in fact only Iraqis can defeat al Qaeda. That’s the irony. The president keeps saying we need to stay in Iraq in order to defeat al Qaeda. In fact, the evidence shows that al Qaeda in Iraq can only be defeated by Iraqis, chased out of Iraq by Iraqis. Iraqis are beginning the task now to do it.
And talk about “blowback”:
FAWAZ A. GERGES: As a historian to me, what happened to Britain in 1920, as you know, Britain was in charge of Iraq. And it put Iraq– glued Iraq together in the 1920s. And by the end of this, Britain became really a hostage to local players in Iraq. And in fact the United States is finding itself in the same place as Britain did in the 19– at the mercy– at the mercy of local players initially Shiite political leadership. And now the United States has gone against the wishes of the Iraqi government and trying to arm some Sunni tribes to fight al Qaeda.
In fact, the American military presence in Iraq, the preponderant American military presence has become a liability, a liability against America’s vested interest.
The American presence in Iraq, Bill, and for a person like me who lives for long periods of time in the Middle East, is not just–
BILL MOYERS: Born in– in Beirut, right?
FAWAZ A. GERGES: Born in Beirut. And I have spent several years doing field research in the last years.
The way the American mission is perceived in the Muslim world is that this not about democracy. This is not about the fight against– al Qaeda.
This is a fight to subjugate– to subjugate the Arab and Muslim world and control its resources. [looks that way to me — Mcat]
And that’s why what I find most really alarming, Bill, al Qaeda’s ideological claims basically are finding receptive ears in that part of the world because al Qaeda is telling Muslims the United States is waging a war against Islam and Muslims. And, in fact what the war itself has done, it has radicalized and militarized a tiny segment of mainstream public opinion.
Cannot put it more simply and directly than that…