Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Knocking Nick

MILBLOGGER Army Wife and Toddler Mom receives a startling tip from her soldier husband, about outrageous leftist, anti-war propaganda masquerading as children’s television:
Nickelodeon is trying to brainwash your children in the morning, or a leftist primer.

My Husband sent me this link this morning. Please watch this, in its entirety. It is imperative that you SEE what Nickelodeon is showing at 5:00am.NICKELODEON IS BRAINWASHING YOUR CHILD

Linda Ellerby is the host, that should be enough said. Pay particular attention to the second and fourth stories.

This Nickeldeon "news program", is not a news program. It is a leftist primer on how to be a "left-wing radical REBEL". I am not a blind follower of our Government, and I also think that Government should be watched by its citizens. It is our civic duty. However this program led by Ellerby, is anti-war, anti- GWOT, anti-military.

This "news program" is not about people changing the World around them. Ms. Ellerby uses leftist propaganda buzz words like "taking on the establishment". She shows a group of "tweenagers" walking around in orange jumpsuits, hooded and yelling from a bullhorn. "We are not ok, with people being tortured by American soldiers!" "Are cooperation's priority over human lives?"

There is also a call for the impeachment of the President in the second segment of the video, "democracy is at stake because of the President violating the Constitution". The fourth segment of video shows another tweenager, who has put together a video of wounded Iraqi children, with the song Jesus Loves Me playing over it. This teenager blames America, the military, for what is happening in Iraq. This young girl says "she finds, videos and facts on the Internet" to show what is REALLY happening in Iraq. I am guessing she is getting these images from Al Jazeera.

Nickelodeon is the new training ground for leftist propaganda. Amazing. You really must watch this video. My guess is, you will no longer want your children watching Nickelodeon. I am also guessing Nickelodeon paying sponsors, e.g. of 2 I saw while watching this clip, Nerf gun.

Hey Nerf, Nickelodeon thinks guns are evil. Oh and The Little Pet Shop, which we all know Nickelodeon thinks is a sort of animal factory, (not caring of animal's needs, only out to make a buck out of mass breeding of cats and dogs, only to be euthanized later) might want to hear from you the consumer of children's toys.

You can drop a line to the folks at Nickelodeon here I would love for you to write a note to Viacom HEREAnd PLEASE contact Hasbro here, make sure they know what Nickelodeon really thinks of corporations and Nerf guns.UPDATE: spoke with Hasbro, and they are shocked that this was children’s programming. We will see what they do with the advertisements...
I caught a very similar segment with Ellerby and her “news for Kids,” it had to do with a young teenager who was “protesting against war” without any moral foundation or reference to actual wrong or evil. No place for Just War in Ellerby’s Nickelodeon-Land, only a presumption that if our country is at war, we’re wrong.

It was obvious in the program I saw that Ellerby’s whole intent was in fact to radicalize children and encourage an anti-government bias (as a prior assumption, in fact). I was watching along with Little Manly that day, and he himself started to verbally challenge the statements of fact that were allowed to air. (He seeks out political argument with adults as a hobby, so I’m not worried about him. But think of how many impressionable kids get plopped in front of this garbage.

This is like letting some ex-hippie drug addict on Meth babysit your children.

I’m doing as AWTM suggests, contacting Nickelodeon, Viacom and Hasbro. You should too.

Hat tip: Blackfive and Andi via MILBLOGS.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Good News from Bad

Bill Roggio, writing at the Worldwide Standard, reports a on a surprising development in the recent story of the kidnapping by Mahdi Army elements of 11 Sunni and Shia pro-coalition tribal leaders: the Iraqi Army has rescued 8 of the 11 sheiks, killed 4 of the kidnappers, and identified the former Mahdi Army Brigade Commander as the officer responsible for orchestrating the kidnapping.

Sometimes the anti-war agitators among the politicians and press can’t catch an even break. Even the bad news now gives way to encouraging updates within days.

More to come, you can be sure.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Project Valour-IT

Here’s a very worthy cause I can whole-heartedly encourage my readers to support (early and often):

Soldiers Angels Project Valour-IT

Free laptops for wounded Vets, voice activated and/or otherwise modified based on disability, 100% of funds go towards the equipment. Sponsored by one of the finest Vet-help agencies out there today.

Army Team sponsored by Matt and Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive, where more information can be found. Bloggers: to join Team Army, visit here: Join Army Team


UPDATE: Easy to use Army Team donation in the upper left hand corner!

Friday, October 26, 2007


The Ends of Anti-Americanism

Francis Fukuyama concludes that America has created and now will preside over a self-defeating hegemony, in a pre-written obituary appearing at Real Clear Politics.

I fully admit that I have not read Fukuyama in the original texts. If that renders my criticism of his opinions moot for some readers, thanks for stopping by, you can move on.

Many of us know of Fukuyama only through the academic catch phrase he embraced in his thought and writings, “the end of history,” and synopses of his works. If we end our military involvement in the Middle East or aggressive responses to radical Islamic terrorism, I suppose we can conclude that the end of history would now resume.

Fukuyama asserts (today, and previously) that since 9/11 “American behavior and misjudgments” have somehow transformed an ubiquitous global anti-Americanism into “one of the chief fault lines of global politics.” In making his assertion, Fukuyama mischaracterizes much of the history he uses as the basis for his argument. Fukuyama remains too busy celebrating history’s demise, to retain much interest in understanding it.

His first error lies in stating that the “doctrine of US ‘preemption’” was “inappropriately broadened to include Iraq and other so-called ‘rogue states’ that threatened to develop weapons of mass destruction. He then goes on to issue the caveat, that:

To be sure, preemption is fully justified vis-a-vis stateless terrorists wielding such weapons.

What Fukuyama omits from his prior formulation is the vital, missing piece of the actual US position vis-à-vis these aptly named rogue states. Namely, that by simultaneously acquiring, developing or actively seeking weapons of mass destruction, and using the full and diverse powers of the state to support terrorists, these dangerous rogues posed a unique and grave danger to the US, and the world.

The US did not adopt a policy of preemption towards particular states, merely because those states sought WMD capability, but because those intents were held by despots with demonstrated willingness (even eagerness) to sponsor and support global terrorism. If all the US wanted was non-proliferation, we would have made more of an effort to stop the many other newly self-inaugurating nuclear club members. Some might argue that we should be concerned about those others too, but we are primarily focused on those who seem likely to want WMD in the hands of their sponsored terrorists.

Fukuyama attributes the real reluctance of the US of seeking military confrontations with North Korea and Iran, due to the prohibitively high costs of “preemption” in Iraq. This again betrays Fukuyama’s flawed assumption that the primary (or only) reason we invaded Iraq was to preempt WMD capabilities.

Fukuyama sustains the framework of his straw man argument, only by studiously ignoring the linkages between state sponsorship of terror, proven Iraqi regional war-making and aggression, appalling human rights crimes, and near total Iraqi rejection of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) mandates as precondition for cessation of the (12 year and counting Gulf war).

Fukuyama asserts a second miscalculation in what he perceives as America misjudgment about how unlikely any action taken by the US “without approval by the UNSC or NATO” would be “legitimized.” Fukuyama uses his prior assertion as sufficient proof to characterize Iraq as an “exercise of its hegemonic power.”

Contrary to Fukuyama’s assertion, the US acted entirely within the mandate of UNSC approval for military action in response to continued Iraqi intransigence and refusal to abide by UNSC resolutions. While several NATO countries were against the invasion, more supported it. While NATO could not adopt a consensus position, unfortunately, NATO did decide to support member states whose militaries were part of the Coalition.

If this be hegemony, what weak thing this hegemony be.

Fukuyama buttresses his argument that US operates unilaterally by pointing to what he views as an inevitable byproduct of US unilateralism, the demonstrated “lack of reciprocity” shown “even to America’s closest allies.”

That’s an interesting assertion. I have no doubt that elites in the countries who are among our closest allies think we demonstrate appalling lack of reciprocity. No doubt our refusal to yield sovereignty through ill-considered international treaties and agreements, or International kangaroo courts, give them that idea.

In terms of actual international diplomacy among allies, however, there are few allies as accommodating as the US: evidenced by the 9 months of additional coddling on the UNSC prior to the 2003 invasion, or other efforts to appease Britain and other erstwhile allies to render support for the heavy lifting we continue to do for Europe. Who supports NATO and holds the collateral on her many security guarantees?

There’s a lack of reciprocity, to be sure, but it fails any comparison to Fukuyama’s notion of the same.

Even if one grants Fukuyama the dubious claim that while “structural anti-Americanism” derives from Clinton era globalization after-effects, such animus was exacerbated by Bush Administration “‘in-your-face’ disregard” of international institutions. Whatever statistical method could be used to measure such animus, I sincerely doubt that an objective student of geopolitics could maintain, without agenda or with a straight face, that anti-Americanism is demonstrably any stronger now than it’s been anytime in the last 50 years.

I suppose all those international elites – Fukuyama evidently among them – grew so giddy at the prospects of the emerging internationalist New World Order, that the reversal embodied in an assertive US, nationalist approach to national security, and national sovereignty, was indeed greatly dismaying.

Here’s Fukuyama’s third assertion:

America's third mistake was to overestimate how effective conventional military power would be in dealing with the weak states and networked transnational organisations that characterise international politics, at least in the broader Middle East. It is worth pondering why a country with more military power than any other in human history, and that spends as much on its military as virtually the rest of the world combined, cannot bring security to a small country of 24 million people after more than three years of occupation. At least part of the problem is that it is dealing with complex social forces that are not organised into centralised hierarchies that can enforce rules, and thus be deterred, coerced, or otherwise manipulated through conventional power.

Israel made a similar mistake in thinking that it could use its enormous margin of conventional military power to destroy Hizbullah in last summer's Lebanon war. Both Israel and the US are nostalgic for a 20th century world of nation-states, which is understandable, since that is the world to which the kind of conventional power they possess is best suited.

But nostalgia has led both states to misinterpret the challenges they now face, whether by linking al-Qaida to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or Hizbullah to Iran and Syria. This linkage does exist in the case of Hizbullah, but the networked actors have their own social roots and are not simply pawns used by regional powers. This is why the exercise of conventional power has become frustrating.

Is Fukuyama seriously arguing that conventional military power can find no place in discrete geopolitical conflicts, or modern counter-terrorism more specifically? War fighting capabilities have proven very adept at routing the Taliban from Afghanistan, completely destroying Saddam Hussein’s military capability, and even decimating a “networked transnational organization” like Al Qaeda. But, as even the authors of the US military’s new Counterinsurgency Manual admonish, military force cannot be the sole solution to such conflicts. But you can’t generally accomplish anything without force of arms, particularly against committed enemies.

As Fukuyama surely knows, we spend more on defense than most of the world combined because our security guarantees and military forces have taken on defense of most of what used to be called the free world. This is surely true of Europe and Asia, where US forces and nuclear guarantees allow countries on these continents to shirk the responsibility and expense of their own security.

As to Fukuyama’s professed belief that a country as powerful as ours should somehow be able to guarantee absolute security in Iraq, that’s juvenile. Nothing prevents people from launching suicide bombs or IEDS anywhere in the world, provided they don’t care if they survive, and don’t care what innocents are killed. If Fukuyama thinks there’s some magic trick to get terrorists to stop committing acts of terror, he should speak up. I seriously doubt an emasculation of US foreign policy is going to do much in that regard. (But perhaps we’ll all get a chance to find out.

Fukuyama’s argument is further weakened by facts on the ground in Iraq that would seem to refute his contention about the futility of military achievement of improved security.

Fukuyama’s last assertion is that America’s “use of power” has lacked strategy, doctrine, or even competence. Iraq will no doubt be used as all manner of example in assessments of doctrine and planning, but any cursory survey of before and after treatises along these lines show the unmistakable imprimatur of 20/20 hindsight. That, and the cottage industry of “I told you so” after action reports run the entire gamut of what was the right answer when, compared to whatever was actually done then.

We should have worked with Baathists and kept the Iraqi Army intact. We should have invaded and imposed absolute control with a minimum 500,000 troops. We should have imposed a friendly dictator. We should have been more ruthless. We should have treated Iraqis with more respect. We should have allowed UN control. We shouldn’t have waited for greater UN involvement. We should have allowed regional players to carve up their own pieces of Iraq. We should have completely blockaded Iraq or assassinated Hussein. We should have lifted sanctions. We should have partitioned. We should have bombed. We should have treated Iraqi and Syrian provocations as acts of war, immediately. We should have pursued evidence of WMD in Syria. We should have called the Russian and French on their perfidy leading up to the war.

And what does Fukuyama propose for all he sees wrong with unbridled and unchecked US hegemony?

Why, a yielding of US sovereignty within some International check on US power, like some grand extra-constitutional system of International Checks and Balances:

Such a system does not exist on a global scale today, which may explain how America got into such trouble. A smoother international distribution of power, even in a global system that is less than fully democratic, would pose fewer temptations to abandon the prudent exercise of power.

The only problem with Fukuyama’s solution, is how he convinces every other country to sign on as well. Oh, I don’t mean sign on to having America constrained by such a surrender of liberty. Or Israel. No problem with that. But having those same countries, so besotted with anti-Americanism, to sell their own birthrights on the cheap, just to see America fettered.

Just a guess, he’d find no takers. Even among those who agree with him that History has come to an end.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Science as Dogma

The New York Times has published a pathetic science report that ought to be included in the Religion section of the Times. Here’s the basis of their report:

In January 1955, Homer Jacobson, a chemistry professor at Brooklyn College, published a paper called “Information, Reproduction and the Origin of Life” in American Scientist, the journal of Sigma Xi, the scientific honor society.

In it, Dr. Jacobson speculated on the chemical qualities of earth in Hadean time, billions of years ago when the planet was beginning to cool down to the point where, as Dr. Jacobson put it, “one could imagine a few hardy compounds could survive.”

Nobody paid much attention to the paper at the time, he said in a telephone interview from his home in Tarrytown, N.Y. But today it is winning Dr. Jacobson acclaim that he does not want — from creationists who cite it as proof that life could not have emerged on earth without divine intervention.

So after 52 years, he has retracted it.

Dr. Jacobson referred to those citing his paper as refuting aspects of Darwinism “hideous.” He evidently hated what these skeptics of Darwinism were able to do with this little bit of science he created, so he decided to do something about it.

He re-read his paper, straining to find some rationale for retracting the paper. He found it. He made a couple of misstatements, in essence drawing some of the same preliminary conclusions that those who doubt classic Darwinism as a logical explanation of the creation of life. Not that any of the actual science in his paper was wrong. It’s just that in light of today’s scientific orthodoxy, it’s unpleasant to acknowledge the obvious problems with a theory that doesn’t adequately explain the real hows behind the how life developed.

American Scientist Editor Rosalind Reid defends the retraction:

His letter shows, Ms. Reid wrote, “the distinction between a scientist who cannot let error stand, no matter the embarrassment of public correction,” and people who “cling to dogma.”

Or, it shows the orthodoxy of those who hold that Darwinism can never be challenged on the basis of science, but must always be accepted as “gospel.”

Since creationists were able to use the actual science contained in Dr. Jacobson’s original paper, it was better to erase the science than allow any challenge to the orthodoxy.

Talk about people who cling to dogma, they can’t even let the old dogmas lie. Pathetic.

(Via Memeorandum)



Leaks and Recriminations

Someone yesterday leaked documents of interviews between “Shock Troops” diarist Scott Thomas Beauchamp, editorial and legal representatives of The New Republic (TNR), as well as excerpts from the official Army investigation into Beauchamp’s conduct in publishing his “stories” at TNR.

As soon as these leaked documents appeared at the Drudge Report, conservative bloggers with long-time interest in the controversy and scandal jumped all over the story. Many bloggers on the right echoed Matt Drudge’s claim – apparently since retracted – that the documents constituted evidence of a complete retraction by Beauchamp, and included an admission by Beauchamp that he had fabricated the hoariest details of his discredited accounts.

Left leaning bloggers, either supportive of TNR or highly suspicious that MILBLOGGER and other objections to the original diary entries were unfounded or politically motivated, likewise either assailed the new leak of documents or dismissed them as either forgeries or not containing what Drudge and other critics claimed.

No and yes, yes and no. From both sides of the argument.

First, some observations about the original piece from Drudge. The headline exaggerated the significance of these documents, which are damning in their own right and most probably authentic. The text of Drudge’s report suggested that the leaked documents show evidence that Beauchamp completely retracted or disowned his reports, which they do not. They suggest, on the other hand, a lot of things, far more damning of the behavior and conduct of Foer and TNR than the hapless Beauchamp.

I think it entirely likely that upon complaint and objection, and possibly an Army request, Matt Drudge pulled the documents. I think he now knows that whatever else the documents might show, whatever their provenance or authenticity, they aren’t quite the “smoking gun” or the final story to tell on this story about story telling.

Now about those documents. For one thing, the documents purport to be of a particular origin, but headings, dates, and a recurrent footer on the documents don’t jibe. I don’t suggest that this means there inauthentic, but I do think they need explaining if one is going to draw meaningful conclusions.

Each page of the leaked documents contains a footer, “Misconduct_4/1ID_Beauchamp_17 Jul 07.” This appears to be a footer entry, apparently auto-inserted into the PDF file when the documents were scanned. I suppose if an HQ or admin or legal section were tracking disciplinary paperwork, and saving scanned copies, they might include a “date of offense” in the filename. July 17, 2007 was the date TNR published “Shock Troops.”

They appear to be separate documents that have been scanned together, and if the dates on the documents are accurate, the interview pages from September are scanned along with selected pages from documents produced in July.

The Memorandum pages appear authentic, properly formatted, without any obvious discrepancy. I do wonder why all of the referenced exhibits – including two statements from Beauchamp – weren’t included when the documents were scanned. They would certainly be the more conclusive or explosive of the contents, rather than the more formulaic officer prose of the Investigative AR 15-6 Report. If the individual(s) leaking these documents sought to offer up “convincing” proof that Beauchamp had lied or admitted fabricating his stories, why have these particular segments of the report been leaked, with all the really damning evidence withheld?

Sure, I want to see what the investigating officer has to say, but I’d really want to see those exhibits.

Included in the back of the scanned pages is a “Memorandum of Concern’ from 1/18th Battalion Commander LTC George Glaze, and constituting an “administrative action,” but formal counseling, versus “punishment.” (The distinction is perhaps only significant to those in the military, but is one of those gray areas of discipline between a “stiff talking to” and real punishment like extra duty, confinement, or forfeiture of pay. Again, this reads as authentic.

If authentic, a Memorandum of Record shows a signed acknowledgment from Beauchamp that he received the Memorandum of Concern and counseling from LTC Glaze on September 1, 2007. It clearly does NOT show, as some have suggested and perhaps Drudge mistakenly assumed, that Beauchamp in any way acknowledged or admitted the findings of the AR 15-6 investigation. Again, what I’d really want to see are his sworn statements, DA forms 2823.

There would be no way to tell whether the “interview transcripts” are authentic, as they don’t contain headers or footers (other than the footer apparently from the scanner), or even page numbers, nor are they self identified as to source or scribe.

There us an entry at the top of the first page, “Transcript of Conversation,” with a second line reading “Scott Thomas Beauchamp and The New Republic, 061945SEP07.” This is to mean that the interview took place at 7:45 pm (unknown time zone), September 6, 2007, for those unfamiliar with a military style date-time group.

The next few lines identify the participants in the interview as Beauchamp, Foer, and Peter Scoblic, TNR Executive Editor, and “Gene,” a lawyer engaged for Beauchamp by TNR. Also present are SSG Preiszler, Beauchamp’s squad leader, SPC Ben Washburn, a soldier of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) Public Affairs Office.

The documents themselves show very little formatting, the first lines are indented but with no bolding or raised fonts. The transcripts, if they are authentic, give the appearance of somebody’s best guess at how to document such an interview. They suggest a verbatim transcript, rather than hand scribed meeting notes. There are occasional tags of “unintelligible,” which suggests that a clerk may have been handed a recording and asked to transcribe.

What the documents do show is that the Army investigation gathered a rather full and incriminating collection of evidence that Beauchamp fabricated the warp and woof of his accounts. He spun elaborate war stories out of shreds of experience, and manufactured the grittier and more outrageous elements of his accounts – in particular, the ones that have so infuriated his critics in and of the military.

The interviews in particular reveal some clues that may explain why this scandal occurred, and why it continues to play out the way it has. Beauchamp’s Squad Leader sits in on the interview with Foer and Scoblic. Rather than intimidating Beauchamp, as Juan Cole and others are suggesting, it seems a lot more likely that Beauchamp really is trying to make amends for his fable-telling, following his Commander’s instructions to seek approval from his immediate supervisor, and just trying to concentrate on doing his job.

For one thing, Foer and Scoblic give Beauchamp all kinds of opportunity to throw them a bone and back up his stories, which he refuses to do. They also put a lot of pressure on him to give them cover, and even use the emotional (and perhaps financial) pressure implied in suggesting that Beauchamp’s wife, still a TNR employee, really wants him to back TNR up.

By my admittedly jaundiced reading, I think Foer and Scoblic are a lot more intimidating in these interviews than Beauchamp’s squad leader (only a Staff Sergeant E-6) and a Specialist from the PAO. If Beauchamp’s unit wanted intimidation, Beauchamp’s Command Sergeant Major (CSM), First Sergeant, or at least Platoon Sergeant would be there, along with the actual PAO, a Major or thereabouts, not a junior enlisted soldier. (Was he the one who would later scribe the interview?)

I think Beauchamp, being a kid with dreams beyond his (at least current) capabilities, screwed up in something he thought he could play at, not reaizing the immediate and explosive effect it would have on his immediate unit and fellow soldiers. I think he knows now. I think he sincerely wants to get away from the whole mess, salvage what honor and respect he can from his comrades by concentrating on the job at hand. Oh, and staying away from the media, or any attempt to revisit his daydreams of being a writer.

For another, deeper insight into this assessment of Beauchamp and his fate, see some serendipitous reporting from Michael Yon.

Yon describes a chance meeting with Beauchamp’s unit and former commander:

I was at a reconciliation meeting between Sunni and Shia in the West Rashid district of Baghdad on 24 October, and it happened by complete coincidence that I was with Beauchamp’s battalion. In fact, I was with his old company commander for much of the day, although I had no idea for most of it that I was with Beauchamp’s old company commander.

At the reconciliation meeting, Beauchamp’s battalion commander, LTC George Glaze, politely introduced himself and asked who I wrote for. When I replied that I just have a little blog, the word caught his ears and he mentioned Beauchamp, who I acknowledged having heard something about.  LTC Glaze seemed protective of Beauchamp, despite how the young soldier had maligned his fellow soldiers. In fact, the commander said Beauchamp, having learned his lesson, was given the chance to leave or stay.

The reality of war is hellish enough: the IED that left this massive crater in the road in Mosul also killed five soldiers.

It can be pretty tough over here. The soldiers in Beauchamp’s unit have seen a lot of combat. Often times soldiers are working in long stretches of urban guerrilla combat dogged by fatigue and sleep deprivation. This is likely one of the most stressful jobs in the world, especially when millions of people are screaming at you for failures that happened three years or more ago, and for decisions to invade Iraq that were made when you were still a teenager. Just as bad is the silence from the untold millions who have already written off your effort as hopeless. Add that to the fact that buddies are getting killed in front of you. (More than 70 killed in Beauchamp’s brigade.) I see what these young men and women go through, and the extraordinary professionalism they nearly always manage to exude awes me on a daily basis.

Lapses of judgment are bound to happen, and accountability is critical, but that’s not the same thing as pulling out the hanging rope every time a soldier makes a mistake.

Beauchamp is young; under pressure he made a dumb mistake. In fact, he has not always been an ideal soldier. But to his credit, the young soldier decided to stay, and he is serving tonight in a dangerous part of Baghdad. He might well be seriously injured or killed here, and he knows it. He could have quit, but he did not. He faced his peers. I can only imagine the cold shoulders, and worse, he must have gotten. He could have left the unit, but LTC Glaze told me that Beauchamp wanted to stay and make it right. Whatever price he has to pay, he is paying it.

So much depends on soldiers who are sometimes all too human.

The commander said I was welcome to talk with Beauchamp, but clearly he did not want anyone else coming at his soldier. LTC Glaze told me that at least one blog had even called for Beauchamp to be killed, which seems rather extreme even on a very bad day. LTC Glaze wants to keep Beauchamp, and hopes folks will let it rest. I’m with LTC Glaze on this: it’s time to let Beauchamp get back to the war. The young soldier learned his lessons. He paid enough to earn his second chance that he must know he will never get a third.

(Yon via an excerpt at National Review Online.)

I think that reads right, and I hope this controversy rightly focuses on Foer and his obstreperous fellow editors at TNR, rather than Beauchamp. Hopefully, he can find himself another kind of story to tell from his unfortunate experiences (however much self-inflicted).

Unless of course, he turns back to the dark side, as suggested by Allah Pundit at Hot Air:

The irony of all this is that it won’t change anyone’s mind. The left will dismiss the statements as coerced, even the circumstantial evidence re: the dog-killing. And then, in a year or two, when Beauchamp’s out of the service he’ll write a new piece for TNR or Vanity Fair or whoever claiming that it’s all true and he was “silenced” and you’ll just have to take his golden word for it, and then they’ll turn him into a free speech martyr.

Hat tip for the original post at Glenn Reynolds, and links to most major commentary up at Memeorandum.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007


No Fragging, No News

Associated Press reporters Estes Thompson and Mike Baker undertake a comparative analysis between Vietnam and our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and breathlessly report:

American troops killed their own commanders so often during the Vietnam War that the crime earned its own name - "fragging."

But since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military has charged only one soldier with killing his commanding officer, a dramatic turnabout that most experts attribute to the all-volunteer military.

The headline of AP’s version of disappointing news from Iraq? “’Fragging’ is Rare in Iraq, Afghanistan.”

Rare? How about non-existent? Were it not for two questionable exceptions -- a fundamentalist (and mentally unstable) Muslim, and a soldier whose alleged act of multiple homicide may have resulted from criminal activity -- there have been no “fragging” incidents in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Why write the story at all? How rare does rare have to be without falling below any reasonable criteria for recognition?

Only when it stands athwart mainstream media (MSM) efforts to portray our military’s efforts as hopeless, and our military as increasingly opposed to the war, of course.

Story via Memeorandum. Also commenting:

Wretchard at the Belmont Club:

While morale is determined by many physical things it is also driven by intangibles such as leadership, the perception of victory and the "justness" of the struggle the combatants are engaged in. Soldiers in Vietnam were materially better off than their fathers in World War 2 but due to factors too complex to discuss here, it was the intangibles which they lacked. Some were eventually convinced their service was futile, unappreciated and even criminal in nature. Wikipedia describes what John Kerry did upon his return from Vietnam.

On April 23, 1971 John Kerry and other veterans threw their medals, ribbons, discharge papers, photographs, citations and articles of their uniforms over a fence at the Capitol building at Washington, D.C. in protest. One disabled veteran even threw his cane. The stated purpose of the demonstration was to show that this protesting group of veterans thought the war was unjust, and that the administration had betrayed them.

That demoralization may have played a role in fragging. And therefore if fraggings are so rare as to be almost nonexistent in Iraq and Afghanistan it maybe due in part to a perception by men serving there that their cause is meaningful, just and ultimately destined to be victorious. It's a possibility at least.

Jules Crittenden:

Iraq is in other ways not like Vietnam at all. Low KIA rate, virtually non-existent offensive capacity on the part of the enemy beyond murderous harassment of troops and terrorism against civilians. And no fragging.  Also, a virtually non-existent anti-war movement.  Well, OK, there is a majority in Congress that is to varying degrees anti-war.  I guess I meant a thus-far entirely ineffective and virtually irrelevant anti-war movement.

Don Surber:

Yes, imagine that: People who are forced to be in the military resent the hell out of the military. Perhaps this is why so many lefties support the draft. They hate the military and want to recruit more military-bashers.

After a slow start, the all-volunteer Army has been a huge success. As witnessed by the end of fragging.

Confederate Yankee:

Estes Thompson and Mike Baker of the Associated Press note that America's all volunteer military isn't taking advantage of opportunities the way their predecessors did.

You can almost feel their pain.

Kim Priestap at Wizbang:

When you read the report, you can't help but feel as if the reporter is disappointed with this trend.

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Monday, October 15, 2007


The Rest of the Speech

Senior General blasts media, Congress, two party political partisanship, and the Bush Administration’s management of the war, and only the last gets reported. Would you have expected any more from mainstream media (MSM)?

Soldier’s Dad at MILBLOGS provides a rough transcript of Sanchez’s recent speech. His criticisms are withering, but lo and behold, Sanchez’s indictment of the media makes his criticism of the war effort seem almost collegial.

Here’s an extended excerpt of what didn’t get reported by the MSM:

Given the near instantaneous ability to report actions on the ground, the responsibility to accurately and truthfully report takes on an unprecedented importance. The speculative and often uninformed initial reporting that characterizes our media appears to be rapidly becoming the standard of the industry.  An Arab proverb states - "four things come not back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, the past, the neglected opportunity." once reported, your assessments become conventional wisdom and nearly impossible to change. Other major challenges are your willingness to be manipulated by "high level officials" who leak stories and by lawyers who use hyperbole to strengthen their arguments. Your unwillingness to accurately and prominently correct your mistakes and your agenda driven biases contribute to this corrosive environment.

All of these challenges combined create a media environment that does a tremendous disservice to America. Over the course of this war tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats for America because of the tremendous power and impact of the media and by extension you the journalist. In many cases the media has unjustly destroyed the individual reputations and careers of those involved. We realize that because of the near real time reporting environment that you face it is difficult to report accurately. In my business one of our fundamental truths is that "the first report is always wrong." unfortunately, in your business "the first report" gives Americans who rely on the snippets of CNN, if you will, their "truths" and perspectives on an issue. As a corollary to this deadline driven need to publish "initial impressions or observations" versus objective facts there is an additional challenge for us who are the subject of your reporting. When you assume that you are correct and on the moral high ground on a story because we have not respond to questions you provided is the ultimate arrogance and distortion of ethics. One of your highly respected fellow journalists once told me that there are some amongst you who "feed from a pig's trough." if that is who I am dealing with then I will never respond otherwise we will both get dirty and the pig will love it. This does not mean that your story is accurate.

I do not believe that this is what our forefathers intended. The code of ethics for the society of professional journalists states:
...public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility

The basic ethics of a journalist that calls for:

1. Seeking truth,

2. Providing fair and comprehensive account of events and issues

3. Thoroughness and honesty

All are victims of the massive agenda driven competition for economic or political supremacy. The death knell of your ethics has been enabled by your parent organizations who have chosen to align themselves with political agendas. What is clear to me is that you are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war.

My assessment is that your profession, to some extent, has strayed from these ethical standards and allowed external agendas to manipulate what the American public sees on TV, what they read in our newspapers and what they see on the web. For some of you, just like some of our politicians, the truth is of little to no value if it does not fit your own preconceived notions, biases and agendas.

It is astounding to me when I hear the vehement disagreement with the military's forays into information operations that seek to disseminate the truth and inform the Iraqi people in order to counter our enemy's blatant propaganda. As I assess various media entities, some are unquestionably engaged in political propaganda that is uncontrolled. There is no question in my mind that the strength our democracy and our freedoms remain linked to your ability to exercise freedom of the press - I adamantly support this basic foundation of our democracy and completely supported the embedding of media into our formations up until my last day in uniform. The issue is one of maintaining professional ethics and standards from within your institution. Military leaders must accept that these injustices will happen and whether they like what you print or not they must deal with you and enable you, if you are an ethical journalist.

Finally, I will leave this subject with a question that we must ask ourselves--who is responsible for maintaining the ethical standards of the profession in order to ensure that our democracy does not continue to be threatened by this dangerous shift away from your sacred duty of public enlightenment?

Ethics in Journalism? What’s the General thinking?

No matter. The MSM showed him who’s boss. None of the comments above got mentioned anywhere except on conservative blogs.

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Friday, October 12, 2007


Gore and the Nobel

Former US Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), announced by the Nobel Prize Committee, as reported by Associated Press. The Nobel Committee recognized Gore and the IPCC “for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for fighting it.”

The AP report quotes Gore as Prophet:

"We face a true planetary emergency. ... It is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity," he said. "It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level."

Amazingly, the AP finds sources with rhetorical effusion in excess of the grandiloquent Gore:

Kenneth Sherrill, a political scientist at Hunter College in New York said Gore probably enjoys being a public person more than an elected official.

"He seems happier and liberated in the years since his loss in 2000. Perhaps winning the Nobel and being viewed as a prophet in his own time will be sufficient," says Sherrill.

Two Gore advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to share his thinking, said the award will not make it more likely that he will seek the presidency.

Conservatives may enjoy lampooning Gore as Prophet-at-Large, but when progressives use the term, they apparently intend a fair amount of reverence. This could be due to an over-secularization of Western elites, who can no longer recognize any true spirituality, or the public’s appalling lack of basic scientific understanding, or both.

Either way, to the religiously inclined but scientifically challenged among world elites, Gore’s the leading Citizen of the World:

In its citation, the committed lauded Gore's "strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."

Ole Danbolt Mjoes, chairman of the prize committee, said the award should not be seen as singling out the Bush administration for criticism.

"A peace prize is never a criticism of anything. A peace prize is a positive message and support to all those champions of peace in the world."

How could anyone consider the work of the Nobel Committee political? They consider candidates on how well they champion specific policy goals and political outcomes, they laud those who value International norms above National interests, and they honor most those candidates who can best help achieve a specific legislative agenda. That’s political? That’s beneath the dignity of the Nobel Committee to even consider, tut tut.

The AP should be credited for a better characterization of the US history with the Kyoto Protocol than that usually afforded in Western media, but even here, the AP distorts the chronology to unfairly highlight President Bush:

Bush abandoned the Kyoto Protocol because he said it would harm the U.S. economy and because it did not require immediate cuts by countries like China and India. The treaty aimed to put the biggest burden on the richest nations that contributed the most carbon emissions.

The U.S. Senate voted against mandatory carbon reductions before the Kyoto negotiations were completed. The treaty was never presented to the Senate for ratification by the Clinton Administration.

"Al Gore has fought the environment battle even as vice president," Mjoes said. "Many did not listen ... but he carried on."

In mentioning Kyoto, they lead with how Bush abandoned the protocol. They then mention that the US Senate (in an extreme majority) voted (in 1998) to instruct Congress not to approve the Kyoto Protocol. This all happened years before Bush took office, and Clinton never pushed the Senate to ratify, which the Senate clearly would have rejected. Note the last remark, and consider that then President Clinton was among those who “did not listen.”

Still, the AP has been more forthright than usual. Perhaps with the possibility of another Clinton Administration, and another renegotiation of Kyoto, friendly media types want to downplay former Clinton and Democrat Party dishonesty about Bush “scuttling” Kyoto.

The joint award for Gore and the IPCC also acknowledges how like-minded are Gore and the board members of the Nobel Committee. Apparently, they both share the same rather loose criteria for what scientific disciplines are relevant to scientific consensus and “certainty” regarding hypotheses of anthropogenic climate change:

Gore called the award meaningful because of his co-winner, calling the IPCC the "world's pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis."

The committee cited the IPCC for its two decades of scientific reports that have "created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over 100 countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming."

It seems almost pointless to add that whether human activity causes global warming is a different consideration altogether, than whether global climates are actually warming. And, despite the conviction of UN panels and the Nobel Prize Committee, there is no scientific consensus as to measures to “control” the climate “before it’s too late.”

Just as global warming activists seek consensus from scientists outside the field of climatology, they likewise ignore economists who make persuasive arguments against draconian and likely counterproductive measures to “control” climate change, if that’s even possible.

Mona Charen, writing at National Review, takes positive note of Bjorn Lomborg and his new book, Cool It: A Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming:

Lomborg’s book focuses on trade-offs. If we’re going to spend a fixed amount of money to improve the world, what makes the most sense? Or to put it another way, which dollar spent produces the greatest benefit? According to a group of economists (including four Nobel Prize winners) who examined this question in 2004, the answer was clear. One dollar spent fighting HIV/AIDS produced $40 in social benefits. One dollar spent on fighting malnutrition yields about $30 in social benefits. Other efforts, like ending agricultural subsidies in the wealthy countries and ensuring worldwide free trade, would net a $15 benefit for a one-dollar cost. Cutting CO2 emissions, by contrast, yields between 2 and 25 cents per dollar invested.

Not that any such economic considerations will deter the new fundamentalists.

Think about it. When was the last time the UN had the right answer for any pressing global problem, whether geopolitical or environmental? This is the same body that considers Cuba, Libya and North Korea suitable candidates for the UN Human Rights Commission. The Nobel Committee show even less attachment to reason:

In recent years, the Norwegian committee has broadened its interpretation of peacemaking and disarmament efforts outlined by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel in creating the prize with his 1895 will. The prize now often also recognizes human rights, democracy, elimination of poverty, sharing resources and the environment.

"We believe that the Nobel Committee has shown great courage by so clearly connecting the climate problems with peace," said Truls Gulowsen, head of environmental group Greenpeace Norway.

In some far away past, there were lauded examples of great courage. Somehow pandering to hysteria and an international socialist agenda – driven by an ethos that regards human industrial and economic activity as an offense against “nature” – doesn’t strike me as particularly courageous. And surely not when exercised by a sycophant like Gore.

Two other observations about what had to be an inevitable Nobel outcome. This award effectively elevates Gore to environmental Pope-ship, and spawns renewed interest and attention to another possible Gore Presidential campaign. That the Nobel Prize committee saw fit to jointly award the Peace Prize to Gore and the equally alarmist and fact-challenged UN IPCC seems particularly apt.

Nobel science prizes arguably remain non-political, if sufficiently demonstrated by the recent awards to a Russian scientist showing causal relationship between solar activity and global warming, in contrast to the Nobel’s hallowed “informed consensus” that recent warming can be attributed to human activity. Not so the Peace Prize, at least not in the past several decades.

It goes way beyond the outrages of Yassar Arafat’s award, for what, exactly? Public posturing for international media, while simultaneously directing the killing of innocent civilians, and calls in Arabic for the annihilation of Israel. Or even the award to the sometimes well-intended internationalist Jimmy Carter, whose founding of Habitat for Humanity might warrant special attention, were it not for his decades of anti-Semitic apologias for dictators, and credulous coddling of tyrants.

Has any peace resulted from the “efforts” by Carter or Arafat, or are the same evils and lack of peace prevalent in the Middle East, if not more widespread? And yet, has the Nobel Committee in the past 20 years recognized those who really struggle mightily for peace, even at the risk of their own lives?

Think about how meaningless has become the Nobel. Gorbachov received one, for not resisting the collapse of the Soviet Empire, “allowing” the liberation of first Eastern Europe, then the long suffering Republics involuntarily comprising the USSR. So too, Nobel honored an activist who claimed that HIV and AIDS were intentionally spread to kill Africans. Arafat, and now Gore.

One can imagine that Bono or Sean Penn can reasonably hope for a Nobel some day.

That’s if they can stay above water, come the deluge predicted by Gore and his UN accomplices.

Now what was that I read about the record setting growth of the ice sheets in Antarctica?

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Friday, October 05, 2007


Thoughts on China

I read the Investor’s Business Daily editorial on the Clintons that begins:

Politics And Money: Remember the rolling disclosures of the last presidency, when the Clintons would release just enough information after a scandal broke to placate the pliant media? Well, here they go again.

Only this time, they are telegraphing that they will keep certain things altogether secret should they return to the White House as co-presidents. And you thought they couldn't be more brazen.

And the following occurs to me.

China has spent enormous effort and gobs of money to achieve the following:

- Trade superiority over the US via state and slave-labor supported industries;

- Covert and de facto immunity from any investigation or punishment for theft of national security, weapons, and industrial technologies;

- Undue political influence over the Majority Party in the US;

- Undue political influence over a former President; and

- Undue political influence over a future President.


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Tuesday, October 02, 2007



The incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) notified subordinate commands of a top priority of the CJCS as he assumes command, according to John Donovan, posting at Castle Argghhh!.

Fighting the Global War on Terror (GWOT)? In a fashion, yes:

Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2007 6:10 PM

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Today, we have received clear direction from Adm Mullen (incoming CJCS) regarding the phrase "Global War on Terror". He does not like this reference and we are not to use this in any future correspondence. Review your letters, orders, JSAPs, and presentations to ensure this reference is removed.
Ensure strict compliance.
If you have any questions, please let me know.

I thought we'd put this nonsense behind us, well the really reality-based world that is.

Sure the NYT has to include a paragraph worth of political commentary masked as caveat, every time they have to report of AQ misdeeds and misadventures in Iraq, formerly known as Mesopotamia several thousand years ago...[and so on].

But that's the Times under current ownership.

The new CJCS doesn't like the Global War on Terror, how it sounds? What, he gets a lot of crap from his fellow country clubbers? He's jockeying for a key appointment in what he expects will be an incoming Dem administration?

Or is it the idea that we're fighting terrorists and their terror, instead of discrete enemies that can be named and have letterhead with an official organizational address?

"I'm sorry, you can't be an Official Enemy of the United States" -- which entitles you to this nifty logo with matching T-shirts and caps -- unless we have a permanent mailing address."

Or maybe it's the idea that the war is global, like we're fighting the whole world? I am sure our would-be Jihadi enemies would like to think so.

Hey maybe that's the strategy here! If we keep ignoring who and what our enemies are and how they operate, maybe they'll get all jealous and jump up and say, "hey, what about us?! Why can't we be in an axis of evil or something? What are we, chopped liver?!" That’ll make them easier to spot!

We lose when we buy into the arguments of the opposition, that somehow we bring violence upon ourselves by being overly "aggressive," insensitive, "cowboyish," and all such drivel.

PC taken to its logical extreme, where resolve drains away and nations die.

Also linked at MILBLOGS.


Monday, October 01, 2007


More War, Says Sy

New Yorker luminary Seymour Hersh documents a purported “shift in targeting” by the President amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran, writing in The New Yorker. Hersh, at his most workmanlike in this piece, methodically builds a case in support of a careful Bush Administration campaign to make sure the US goes to war in Iran:

In a series of public statements in recent months, President Bush and members of his Administration have redefined the war in Iraq, to an increasing degree, as a strategic battle between the United States and Iran. “Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people,” Bush told the national convention of the American Legion in August. “The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased. . . . The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And, until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops.” He then concluded, to applause, “I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.”

The President’s position, and its corollary—that, if many of America’s problems in Iraq are the responsibility of Tehran, then the solution to them is to confront the Iranians—have taken firm hold in the Administration. This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney, requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran, according to former officials and government consultants. The focus of the plans had been a broad bombing attack, with targets including Iran’s known and suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure sites. Now the emphasis is on “surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism.

As always, the bluff of Hersh’s assertions greatly exceeds the bluster of his reporting.

Hersh can always be counted on to tell a complex story with skill and dexterity, just as he can always be counted on to embellish his references with carefully targeted rhetorical excesses. Of course, Hersh maintains the disciplined appearance of objectivity, finding among unnamed sources in Federal bureaucracies, useful co-conspirators with ready anti-Administration gossip and other sound bites.

No doubt these are driven currently by anti-Bush animus, as in days of yore, when Hersh attacked prior Republican administrations. Iraq and Iran must serve as thin gruel indeed. Compared to Vietnam, where Hersh first rose to international prominence for his anti-war reporting. One almost feels sorry for the old war horse.

None of which necessarily speaks to the accuracy of his reporting, but rather to the obviousness of his biases.

Hersh wants his readers to believe that the President has decided he must scapegoat Iran at this particular time in this particular way – a change from any previous planning – because of three “developments”:

- The failure of a “campaign” to convince the public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat;

- Consensus within the Intelligence Community (IC) that Iran is at least 5 years away from developing nuclear weapons; and

- Recognition that Iran is the “geopolitical winner” in Iraq.

The first purported “development,” of course, highlights how Bush and his advisors want to “do Iraq” all over again, something Hersh states plainly. Not being content to suffer enormous political fallout, lost elections and lost control of both Houses of Congress from one Iraq, Hersh wants to believe (and wants credulous readers to believe) that Bush and Company desperately want another. (“Desperately seeking Quagmire,” I suppose.)

The second “development” suggests a parallel between Iran’s nuclear ambitions, programs, and level of threat, compared to Hussein in 2002. Hersh clearly wants to throw down the gauntlet, “not this time” -- as if the worries and concerns about Iranian apocalyptic rhetoric and stunning advances in nuclear technology procurement and weaponization, just more of the same Lie Us Into War strategy.

The problem here is that there is anything but consensus on how far Iran has advanced in the nuclear weapons program, or the extent to which they were assisted by Pakistan’s rogue nuclearists or North Korea’s obvious desire to proliferate nuclear weapons or weapon making capability. We’ll know how far they are when they test their first nuke, probably not before.

No doubt, the League of Former Senior Intelligence and CIA Officials who Oppose Bush  have reached a firm consensus that everything he does is wrong and always for the wrong reasons, whereas everything They Think is Right and always in the Interest of National Security -- never petty politics or bureaucratic turf battle or in-fighting. Surely the same can be said of Hersh, who’s never met an unnamed official he couldn’t find compelling and convincing, provided the official gave him anti-Administration quotes.

The third “development,” that Iran is the geopolitical winner in Iraq is not only highly arguable, but highly doubtful as a conclusion that this administration might reach. I have no doubt at all that Hersh pushes this line of reasoning, the better to justify his steadfast conclusion that nothing good can come from our efforts in Iraq. In this, he’s joined by many of his cooperating unnamed officials, many in the Foreign Policy establishment, and a proliferation of academics, bound and determined to stand as apologists for the regime in Tehran.

Iran may or may not be in a better regional situation for a variety of reasons because of our efforts in Iraq. Likewise, our efforts at eliminating the Taliban and Saddam and introducing democracy to the Arab Middle East surely present a serious threat to the stability and survival of the Mullahcracy in Iran.

If one could portray the President’s heightened focus on Iran as desperate, as an acknowledgement of losing ground, as Hersh implies here, the same could certainly be said of Iran’s intense meddling in Iraq.

It’s almost humorous how critics of this administration manage to slam the President on both sides of these kinds of issues: negligence and not seeing the real threats; then paying too much attention or “hyping” those same threats.

Hersh favors the rhetorical device of mixing in military and political commentary when quoting his unnamed sources. I do not suggest that Hersh manufactures quotes. Rather, he regularly quotes presumed experts in one area who Hersh oddly calls upon to draw conclusions outside their areas of expertise.

As Hersh does here, quoting a “former intelligence official”:

“There is a desperate effort by Cheney et al. to bring military action to Iran as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the politicians are saying, ‘You can’t do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.’ But Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President.”

That’s highly speculative. And highly suspect. I seriously doubt many Republicans think this might be true, although one hears this kind of thing quite often from liberal Democrats. I’m also not sure there are many former intelligence officials who can or should be quoted authoritatively on matters of politics, or of organizational psychology, but then I’m no Seymour Hersh.

Hersh, as many foul weather critics of this Administration, points to heightened or increased operation analysis and planning as evidence of intent or mission selection. Hersh points to increased “tempo of attack planning” and increased staffing, and draws another helpful (unnamed) CIA source to compare these efforts to pre-war preparations for Iraq in 2002.

There are a few other possibilities, as any military commander or Intelligence Analyst could tell you, even without remaining anonymous.

One very strong possibility is that the US knows that our analytic understanding about Iran, its nuclear and military capabilities, is weak, and needs to get better. Whatever intelligence gaps we had about Iraq prior to going to war, and that we had about North Korea before they went nuclear, we can be assured that we have al least as many about Iran. That doesn’t suggest that Iran might take longer to reach the nuclear threshold, rather than sooner. Especially if Iran’s El Baradei is insisting it will take longer.

The majority of Hersh’s readership remains largely ignorant or ill-informed on military matters (no thanks to Hersh). The military plans on a continuous basis for all conceivable threats and multiple areas of operations. Intelligence assets anticipate potential hot spots and operational requirements, and seek to build understanding, fill gaps, and expand intelligence holdings. We certainly should be concentrating on Iran, not because we’ve already decided to attack, but because of all the threats out there today, Iran is among the most bellicose, and Iranian actions (including acts of war) the most belligerent.

There is also the possibility that prior operational planning over-emphasized targeting of nuclear sites. For a variety of reasons, planning may now be including detailed threat assessments and potential target preparation for so called surgical strikes.

Not that any of this needs to detract from Hersh’s depiction of a White House on the march to war. This matches the conclusion drawn by former Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Foreign Policy realists breed strange bedfellows indeed.)

Of course Ahmadinejad blames the state of relations between the US and Iran entirely on US aggression. Brzezinski, in a similar vein, thinks the Bush Administration is hoping Iran keeps saber rattling for a reason, according to Brzezinski, via Hersh:

“A lot depends on how stupid the Iranians will be,” Brzezinski told me. “Will they cool off Ahmadinejad and tone down their language?” The Bush Administration, by charging that Iran was interfering in Iraq, was aiming “to paint it as ‘We’re responding to what is an intolerable situation,’ ” Brzezinski said. “This time, unlike the attack in Iraq, we’re going to play the victim. The name of our game seems to be to get the Iranians to overplay their hand.”

Brzezinski suggests that vile anti-Americanism is somehow more threatening or angering to the US than Iranian funding and training of anti-US terrorists, active targeting of US military, and the supply of shaped-charge munitions to our enemies for the express purpose of killing more Americans.

Hersh attempts to refute recent US accusations against Iranian support of insurgent and militia violence against US and coalition forces by introducing some doubt as to the provenance of arms thought to be of (recent) Iranian vintage. In this, he confers with former UN weapons inspector David Kay, who asserts that Inspection Teams found surprising and huge quantities of munitions, including “explosively formed penetrators.” These may not be the kinds of munitions now being used against US forces in Iraq, but surely existing known and unidentified munitions stockpiles are a large source for IEDs used in Iraq.

Kay believes General Petraeus and other military officials misstate the degree of current Iranian culpability, but his specific objections reveal a bias towards the “Iran reacts to US belligerence out of an enlightened self-interest:

“I thought Petraeus went way beyond what Iran is doing inside Iraq today,” Kay said. “When the White House started its anti-Iran campaign, six months ago, I thought it was all craziness. Now it does look like there is some selective smuggling by Iran, but much of it has been in response to American pressure and American threats—more a ‘shot across the bow’ sort of thing, to let Washington know that it was not going to get away with its threats so freely. Iran is not giving the Iraqis the good stuff—the anti-aircraft missiles that can shoot down American planes and its advanced anti-tank weapons.”

Iranian apologetics flourish among the UN intelligentsia like Kay and El Baradei, and such prove useful to Hersh’s contention that the US is hyping us into war with Iran. These same kind of internationalists display the kind of thinking that always justifies Iranian reaction, and even over-reaction, to the threats posed by the US.

A senior European diplomat, who works closely with American intelligence, told me that there is evidence that Iran has been making extensive preparation for an American bombing attack. “We know that the Iranians are strengthening their air-defense capabilities,” he said, “and we believe they will react asymmetrically—hitting targets in Europe and in Latin America.” There is also specific intelligence suggesting that Iran will be aided in these attacks by Hezbollah. “Hezbollah is capable, and they can do it,” the diplomat said.

All to make the argument in advance that whatever happens, the US and our attitudes towards Iran will have “caused” whatever results.

Hersh presents contrasting views of the root causes of violence against coalition forces. Hersh contrasts the US and UK military view that Iran supports many groups in the south who kill British and American soldiers, with international think tank assessments that violence results more from “the systematic abuse of official institutions, political assassinations, tribal vendettas, neighborhood vigilantism and enforcement of social mores, together with the rise of criminal mafias.”

Hersh’s international sources also quite rightly observe that corrupt Iraqi politicians often use accusatiosn of foreign intrigue as a way of diverting attention from corruption and outright criminality.

Hersh, as other critics, aligns himself with Shiite apologia that consistently evaluates every coalition strategy in the zero sum game of tribal politics: anything benefiting Sunnis is necessarily cause for Shiite concern.

 “The American policy of supporting the Sunnis in western Iraq is making the Shia leadership very nervous,” Nasr said. “The White House makes it seem as if the Shia were afraid only of Al Qaeda—but they are afraid of the Sunni tribesmen we are arming. The Shia attitude is ‘So what if you’re getting rid of Al Qaeda?’ The problem of Sunni resistance is still there. The Americans believe they can distinguish between good and bad insurgents, but the Shia don’t share that distinction. For the Shia, they are all one adversary.”

Nasr went on, “The United States is trying to fight on all sides—Sunni and Shia—and be friends with all sides.” In the Shiite view, “It’s clear that the United States cannot bring security to Iraq, because it is not doing everything necessary to bring stability. If they did, they would talk to anybody to achieve it—even Iran and Syria,” Nasr said. (Such engagement was a major recommendation of the Iraq Study Group.) “America cannot bring stability in Iraq by fighting Iran in Iraq.”

It is no small coincidence that this line of Shiite-oriented, tribal analysis always points towards closer diplomacy with Iran as the solution to all ills in Iraq. You will never read of an analyst making these kinds of assessment ever criticizing Iranian provocations, or their sins of commission or omission causing damage to US-Iranian relations, or for that matter, Iranian-Iraqi relations. One inevitably concludes that such voices are pro-Iranian, for a reason.

Hersh juices up his critique with highly detailed speculations (or intelligence leaks) from more of those un-named officials, detailing the form surgical strikes would take, and the almost single-minded desire of Vice President Cheney to have them carried out.

In framing the case that the US is preparing to conduct more limited, surgical strikes against Iran, Hersh consults with an anonymous European official, who Hersh quotes authoritatively on British support for a change in targeting:

A senior European official told me, “The British perception is that the Iranians are not making the progress they want to see in their nuclear-enrichment processing. All the intelligence community agree that Iran is providing critical assistance, training, and technology to a surprising number of terrorist groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, through Hezbollah, in Lebanon, and Israel/Palestine, too.”

There were four possible responses to this Iranian activity, the European official said: to do nothing (“There would be no retaliation to the Iranians for their attacks; this would be sending the wrong signal”); to publicize the Iranian actions (“There is one great difficulty with this option—the widespread lack of faith in American intelligence assessments”); to attack the Iranians operating inside Iraq (“We’ve been taking action since last December, and it does have an effect”); or, finally, to attack inside Iran.

The European official continued, “A major air strike against Iran could well lead to a rallying around the flag there, but a very careful targeting of terrorist training camps might not.” His view, he said, was that “once the Iranians get a bloody nose they rethink things.” For example, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and Ali Larijani, two of Iran’s most influential political figures, “might go to the Supreme Leader and say, ‘The hard-line policies have got us into this mess. We must change our approach for the sake of the regime.’ ”

The logic here is hard to follow. A big attack against Iran or its nuclear facilities would cause Iranians to rally to the regime, but a smaller attack might cause the grown ups in Tehran to pressure changes in Iranian behavior? Too many critics of the Bush Administration and current US foreign policy predicate their thinking on the assumption that US planners are all imbeciles, or nefarious.

Yet another unnamed European diplomat – don’t these gentlemen have work to do in Brussels or Paris? – passes along the related French opinion that changed US plans for Iran are mere face saving for mis-steps in Iraq:

Many in the French government have concluded that the Bush Administration has exaggerated the extent of Iranian meddling inside Iraq; they believe, according to a European diplomat, that “the American problems in Iraq are due to their own mistakes, and now the Americans are trying to show some teeth. An American bombing will show only that the Bush Administration has its own agenda toward Iran.”

A European intelligence official made a similar point. “If you attack Iran,” he told me, “and do not label it as being against Iran’s nuclear facilities, it will strengthen the regime, and help to make the Islamic air in the Middle East thicker.”

Assuming one can correctly interpret what “make the Islamic air in the Middle East thicker” means, would that even be possible? I thought Bin Ladenism, coupled with the extreme anti-Semitism, 12th Imam evoking, Caliphate restoring rhetoric already made the Islamic air about as thick as it could get. Not in the eyes of some, who must see the US at fault for every negative turn of events in the Middle East.

Hersh makes sure to include commentary by Mohamed El Baradei and the IAEA:

The director general of the I.A.E.A., Mohamed ElBaradei, has for years been in an often bitter public dispute with the Bush Administration; the agency’s most recent report found that Iran was far less proficient in enriching uranium than expected. A diplomat in Vienna, where the I.A.E.A. is based, said, “The Iranians are years away from making a bomb, as ElBaradei has said all along. Running three thousand centrifuges does not make a bomb.” The diplomat added, referring to hawks in the Bush Administration, “They don’t like ElBaradei, because they are in a state of denial. And now their negotiating policy has failed, and Iran is still enriching uranium and still making progress.”

The diplomat expressed the bitterness that has marked the I.A.E.A.’s dealings with the Bush Administration since the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “The White House’s claims were all a pack of lies, and Mohamed is dismissive of those lies,” the diplomat said.

Hans Blix, a former head of the I.A.E.A., questioned the Bush Administration’s commitment to diplomacy. “There are important cards that Washington could play; instead, they have three aircraft carriers sitting in the Persian Gulf,” he said. Speaking of Iran’s role in Iraq, Blix added, “My impression is that the United States has been trying to push up the accusations against Iran as a basis for a possible attack—as an excuse for jumping on them.”

When a commentator quotes El Baradei or Hans Blix in support of an argument, more thoughtful readers should know what’s coming.

That members of the IAEA continue to insist that US accusations about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, programs for WMD, intentions, and known and documented violations of UNSC resolutions were “all a pack of lies,” that tells you everything you need to know about the IAEA. El Baradei and the IAEA carried water for Saddam Hussein, and now they carry water for Iran. Can’t let anything stand in the way of the Islamic Bomb, can we?

That’s as much as I can stomach for one outing.

Via Mudville Gazette. Greyhawk also noted the Hersh report at MILBLOGS, and tries to decide if the story is batsh** crazy.

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