Daily Archives: June 10, 2004

War? What War? Which War?

charlie at BiteSoundBite has another good post up in which he tries desperately to figure out what kind of war it is exactly we’re waging.

[E]ven when Americans (and Brits too) can agree that an action or is terrorism and that the group who committed the action is a “terrorist group”, we can’t possibly fight all of those guys. If we are truly at war with terrorism (either against us, or against somebody else to whom we are indifferent, tho certainly not against the terrorism we employ) why are focusing on the Middle East? There is terrorism all over Latin America. Africa. Asia. Ireland. Chechnya. Russia. etc. etc. Why is al quaeda a focus (is it a focus?) and not FARC or the IRA or the Tamil Tigers? That answer is easy. We are against people who use terrorism against us. Great. So now we can declare war on them. Right? When are we going to do that?Of course, these days we hear less about the war on terrorism than we do about the war on terror. If we are at war with terror (a word which scarcely needs definition; it is in other words simply understood to mean “scariness”) then why are we not…wait, never mind. A war against scariness is more absurd than Mr. Burn’s plan to build a structure that would block out the sun. We are not engaged a war against terror because that is impossible.

Go read the rest.

What’s Up With the House Pubs?

On two separate key issues, Bush Admin proposals have been shot down not by recalcitrant Democrats but by Republican moderates. In the first, a Bush proposal to waive weapons licensing rules for allies Britain and Australia has been shot down as too dangerous.

WASHINGTON, June 9 – House Republican leaders are blocking a Bush administration plan to waive licensing rules so Britain and Australia, two of America’s closest allies in the fight against terrorism, can buy certain military items from the United States.In a sharply worded report released last month, the House International Relations Committee said the administration’s effort to relax controls on the sale of “low sensitivity” military items would play into the hands of terrorists seeking to acquire vital American technology.

Oops. A Republican administration is being accused of helping terrorists by members of their own party? What happened to the infamous GOP discipline? Is Rush attacking Republicans Henry Hyde and Duncan Hunter as anti-American Saddam-lovers? Has Ann Coulter called them traitors yet? But if you think that’s weird, another bunch nixed bunker-busters.

WASHINGTON — A House subcommittee told the Bush administration Wednesday to rethink some of its plans for nuclear weapons, including development of a “bunker buster” warhead.The panel refused to provide money for development of a nuclear bunker buster, a weapon that can destroy a deeply buried target. It also denied funding for research into the feasibility of a low-yield “mini-nuke” warhead and for work on a new plant to produce plutonium triggers for the warheads.

The programs, while relatively small in terms of funding during the fiscal year beginning in October, have been a priority of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Energy Department agency responsible for the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

“We put the brakes on a number of new nuclear weapons initiatives,” said Rep. David Hobson (R-Ohio), the subcommittee chairman.

‘A number’? What’s the matter with these people? Don’t they know there’s a war on? Wait ’til O’Reilly hears this, he’ll go ballistic–won’t he?

Nice to see some Pubs acting like Congressmen instead of rubber stamps for a change, ain’t it? But I doubt Junior feels the same way….

Hero of the Week

Junior and the neocon crew may have no idea how to admit a mistake, let alone take responsibility–for anything–but there is one man who does: MajGen Paul Eaton.

TAJI, Iraq – Misguided U.S. training of Iraqi police contributed to the country’s instability and has delayed getting enough qualified Iraqis on the streets to ease the burden on American forces, the head of armed forces training said Wednesday.”It hasn’t gone well. We’ve had almost one year of no progress,” said Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, who departs Iraq next week after spending a year assembling and training the country’s 200,000 army, police and civil defense troops.

“We’ve had the wrong training focus — on individual cops rather than their leaders,” Eaton said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Gen Eaton goes on quite candidly to enumerate his mistakes, explain what he would have done differently, and accept responsibility for the desertion of Iraqi troops at Fallujah.

Eaton, a plainspoken officer who didn’t shirk responsibility for his role in the problems, said soldiers of Iraq’s 2nd Brigade simply ignored U.S. orders to fight their countrymen.”They basically quit. They told us, ‘We’re an army for external defense and you want us to go to Fallujah?’ That was a personal mistake on my part,” Eaton said.

When the uprising broke out in Fallujah, Eaton said he saw a chance to begin transferring the security mission to Iraqi forces. He agreed to allow the Iraqi army’s just-created 2nd Brigade to take on guerrillas that had seized control of the restive western city.

“We were premature,” said Eaton, 54, of Weatherford, Okla. “I could have stopped it. I had a bad feeling and I should have acted on it.”

The lesson learned was that the soldiers needed an Iraqi command hierarchy. Eaton said the soldiers may have battled Fallujah’s Sunni Muslim rebels if Iraqi leaders were spurring them on.

See, George? That’s how it’s done. You acknowledge the error and explain how you’re going to correct it. Why is that so hard for you to understand? I thought maybe you needed an example to see how it works. See how it works? Can you do that? Sure you can. Try. You’ll feel better.

By-the-by, along the way, another (anonymous) ‘US military official’ let slip this little gem:

One U.S. military official said Wolfowitz was partly to blame for those shortcomings.Some $257 million in spending authority was held up by Wolfowitz’s office for two months, delaying construction of Iraqi army barracks for four brigades awaiting training, the official said on condition of anonymity.

What happened, Wolfie? Figure we were going to be in-and-out of there so fast barracks wouldn’t be needed? Or did you have another corporate/neocon dream that told you training and housing were an unnecessary expense that you’d just as soon not bother with?

But the real puzzler is this sentence from the reporter, Jim Krane:

A credible, well-equipped national security force is crucial to America’s plans to pull its 138,000 troops out of Iraq, along with the 24,000 soldiers from Britain and other coalition countries. (emphasis added)

Excuse me? And when did we announce we were doing that, Jim? When did we say–when did anybody say–we had ‘plans’ to do that? I’m gonna need a source here, babe, or a footnote. Something.

Jim, dude, we’re building 21 new, permanent American bases in Iraq. Does that sound to you like we’re ‘planning to pull out’? And leave the second largest oil field in the world to *gasp* Iraqis? With Saudi Arabia under attack by terrorists, especially the oil fields? Think, Jim: Does that really make any sense to you? That the oilmen in the BA are going to relinquish control of Iraqi oil? Cause that’s what a pull-out means, Jim–no troops, no control over the oil. Did you forget what this war is about?

Or was this a slip of the tongue? Have you maybe heard something we haven’t heard? Like maybe the troops are going to be pulled out of Iraq and moved to Saudi Arabia where they will prop up the corrupt Royal Family? Is that what you meant?

I take it all back, Jim. You’re not as dumb as you write.

(Tip from Jo Fish at Democratic Veteran)

Chicken Joke, Iraqi Version

Chicken Joke, Iraqi version (via Juan Cole by way of Billmon at Whiskey Bar)–‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ answered by each of the major Iraqi players in their own, inimitable way. Juan says, ‘It is to laugh, it is to cry.’ That’s about right.