Thursday, August 30, 2007

The NeoCon War On Iran Begins

Iranian President Talks Of Collapse Of 'Zionist Regimes' In US And Israel

September 11 To Mark Start Date Of Massive 'Attack Iran' Propaganda Offensive On American People Via NeoCon Media

The War On Iraq began more than a year before the 'Shock & Awe' bombing of Baghdad began. US special forces, Mossad and other allied intelligence entered Iraq and began scoping targets for bombing, attempting to buy loyalty of tribal leaders and basically preparing for the invasion that was to come.

Through all of this, the NeoCon think tanks and media allies created a War On Iraq reality for the American people through a non-stop campaign of distortions, propaganda and so-called debate.

Likewise, the ground is now be prepared for the War On Iran, in almost exactly the same way preparations at home and in the future warzone were made for Iraq a year out from the start of attacks.

Reports claim US VP Dick Cheney's office is co-ordinating the launch of a massive propaganda offensive, through NeoCon sympathetic media like the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, on the American people to rally support for attacks on Iran. The campaign is said to kick off, naturally, on September 11.

A few days, President Bush declared that the world faced "a nuclear holocaust" from Iran, claiming that Iran is building a nuclear weapons capacity, even though the IAEA completed inspections virtually the same day as Bush's speech and said there were no signs of nuclear weapons being built, and that Iran's nuclear technology did not allow even rudimentary test nuclear weapons to be completed.

Regardless, Bush delivered a fiery speech, that received blanket coverage and comment on American news channels and even news programs.

You can't get much more of a categorical declaration of coming military action than this from President Bush on Thursday :
"I have authorised our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities..."
It is clear that President Bush is now ready to move on from propaganda and warnings, and will soon give up on trying to get tighter sanctions through the United Nations, as both Russia and China do not believe Iran poses a significant threat.

Bush is using the combination evidence-free allegations of Iran weaponising nuclear technology and is bringing to a head year old allegations that Iran is arming Iraqi insurgents, and helping Islamists to attack and kill American soldiers in Iraq. Bush's allies in the media are spreading claims far and wide that the 'roadside bomb' attacks are mostly the result of Iranian weapons and training and such attacks have killed more than 600 American soldiers in the past few years.

From the London Times :

Mr Bush also talked for the first time of “two strains” of Islamic radicalism causing chaos in Iraq and the region: not only Sunni jihadists, about whom he has spoken often, but also “Shia extremism, supported and embodied by Iran’s Government”.

The comments displayed a new aggression towards Tehran, a day after President Sarkozy of France raised the prospect of airstrikes on Iran if the crisis over its nuclear ambitions could not be solved through diplomacy.

Mr Bush said: “Iran’s pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

“Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere, and the United States is rallying friends and allies to isolate Iran’s regime to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late,” he told war veterans in Nevada.

Mr Ahmadinejad, in a news conference in Tehran, again denied that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons, and dismissed any possibility of US military action against Iran. “Even if they were to decide to do so, they would be unable to carry it out,” he said.

He increased his provocation of Mr Bush, who accused Iran of arming insurgents with sophisticated roadside bombs that were killing US troops.

“The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly,” Mr Ahmadinejad said. “Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap.”

More from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad :

"There is no way a possibility of such an attack by the United States. Even if they take such a decision, they cannot implement it," Ahmadinejad told a news conference marked by his characteristic defiance.

Ahmadinejad argued that an agreement last week between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meant the nuclear issue was on the right track and there was no need to fear further UN sanctions.

"Not one member of the IAEA has cooperated as well as Iran. So from our point of view, Iran's nuclear case is closed. Iran is a nuclear nation and has the nuclear fuel cycle," he said.

Ahmadinejad said that the cooperation between Iran and the IAEA had showed Western powers that using force to bring Tehran to heel would not work.

"The Iranian people are united, they believe in God, they believe in the reappearance of the Mahdi (the Shiite hidden imam)," he added, a day ahead of a public holiday in Iran to mark the imam's birth anniversary. During his news conference, Ahmadinejad repeatedly invoked the strength of Iranian civilisation, religion and culture, saying this had ensured that Western threats had come to nothing.

Earlier, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a new verbal attack against Israel, accusing Zionists of sowing conflict, publishing offensive caricatures and "lying about being Jewish."

"Zionists are people without any religion," Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly predicted that Israel is doomed to disappear, told a news conference in Tehran.

"They thrive on conflict and war. They are an organised minority who have infiltrated the world. They are not even a 10,000-strong organisation," he said.

"Anywhere they are found there is war. Anywhere where there is war they are behind it," Ahmadinejad added.

Cheney's Office Co-Ordinating Massive Pro-Iran War Campaign Through Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Weekly Standard, Other NeoCon Media

International Atomic Energy Agency Reports "Significant" Progress On Dealing With Iran Over Nuclear Energy Development

US Goes After European Banks That Trade, Deal With Iran

Bush Calls For Mass Murder Of Iranians

US Planning "Massive" Military Attack Against Iran

Iran Ignores Protests From Baghdad, Continues Shelling Kurd 'Terrorists' In Northern Iraq

Iran Ready To Fill Power Vacuum In Iraq, Says Iranian President, Comments Infuriate US

Monday, August 27, 2007

Middle East Chaos To Spark World War

Warning From NeoCon's Ambassador To The UN

US Troops In Iraq For Decades To Come

America's ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, put his name to key policy documents from the NeoCon think tank Project For A New American Century, in the late 1990s, warning of war in the Middle East.

Now, after the PNAC and the NeoCons got their War On Iraq, and it's help to set the Middle East alight, Khalilzad is now warning that the chaos there could spark a new world war.

Of course, there are plenty who have argued, quite convincingly, that chaos in the Middle East was the NeoCon's original planned outcome from launching a War On Iraq.

From Raw Story :

"Zalmay Khalilzad told the daily Die Presse the Middle East was now so disordered that it had the potential to inflame the world as Europe did during the first half of the 20th century," Reuters reports.

The Middle East "is going through a very difficult transformation phase. That has strengthened extremism and creates a breeding ground for terrorism," Khalilzad said in remarks translated by Reuters into English from the published German.

"Europe was just as dysfunctional for a while. And some of its wars became world wars. Now the problems of the Middle East and Islamic civilization have the same potential to engulf."

Khalilzad, who has served on Bush's foreign policy team since 2000, also "was a charter signatory of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) founding statement of principles, and he signed two subsequent PNAC letters," according to Right Web.

“We may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War,” Khalilzad wrote Clinton along with fellow PNAC members and future Bush administration members/Iraq war architects Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Richard Perle, and Paul Wolfowitz in January of 1998. “Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater.”

From the quoted Reuters report :

Khalilzad, interviewed by Die Presse while attending a foreign policy seminar in the Austrian Alps, said the Islamic world would eventually join the international mainstream but this would take some time. "They started late. They don't have a consensus on their concept. Some believe they should return to the time (6th-7th century) of the Prophet Mohammad," he was quoted as saying. "It may take decades before some understand that they can remain Muslims and simultaneously join the modern world."

Khalilzad was also quoted as saying Iraq would need foreign forces for security for a long time to come. "Iraq will not be in a position to stand on its own feet for a longer period," he said in the interview.

Asked whether that could be 10-20 years, he said: "Yes, indeed, it could last that long. What form the help takes will depend a lot on the Iraqis. Up to now there is no accord between Iraq and the United States about a longer military presence."

US Detains 800 Iraqi Children In Military Prisons - Child 'Insurgents' Taught Write In English, Encouraged To Read 'Harry Potter' Novels In Arabic

The 2nd Most Deadly Terror Attack In Modern History Already Forgotten By The West

Seven Serving American Soldiers Tell The Truth About The Iraq War - The "Surge" Has Failed - Iraqi Army And Police Teaming Up To Kill Americans

Al-Sadr's Militias Move To Take Control Of Basra As Retreat By British Sparks Chaos

We Gotta Blame Somebody - The US Political War Against The Democratically Elected Prime Minister Of Iraq Continues

Bush's 'Lost Year' In Iraq : 1000 Dead American Soldiers, Tens Of Thousands Of Dead Iraqis, $100 Billion - Because Bush Knew Better Than The US Military

How Do You Like Your Freedom And Liberty? - More Than One Million Iraqis Forced From Their Homes

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Iraq : The 2nd Biggest Terror Attack In History Fades Quickly From Headlines

Bush Blames Maliki For US Troubles In Iraq

Maliki Fires Back : We Have Friends Elsewhere

"It is like Hiroshima" - the horrific aftermath of the bombings that killed more than 500 Yazidi Kurds in northern Iraq, making it the 2nd worst terror attack in modern history, after 9/11.

We'll come back to President Bush's mind-bogglingly stupid speech about why pulling out of Iraq would be like pulling out of Vietnam later, but for now here's a number of important Iraq-War related stories, to fill out the picture of what's been happening there since our last round-up.

A few weeks out from the release of a Pentagon assessment report on the results of President Bush's troop "surge" strategy, and Bush and his usual coterie of NeoCons, are already blaming the Maliki government for the all but unstoppable rise in attacks on Iraqis, car bombings and US casualties, and are hinting that Maliki's days in power might be at an end :
"Clearly, the Iraqi government's got to do more," President Bush said...

"I think there's a certain level of frustration with the leadership in general, inability to work _ come together to get, for example, an oil revenue law passed or provincial elections..."

"The fundamental question is, Will the government respond to the demands of the people? And, if the government doesn't demand _ or respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government."

Prime Minister Maliki, who has recently negotiated oil and trade deals with Iran and Syria, has slammed the Bush administration, and warned, not too subtly, that Iraqi government no longer needs the United States to achieve its aims :
Firing back in an escalating war of words, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki on Wednesday chided U.S. officials for expressing impatience with the Iraqi government's failure to unite divided political factions and said Iraq would find other friends if the United States was disenchanted.

"These statements do not concern us a lot," Maliki said to reporters while he was visiting Syria. "We will find many around the world who will support us in our endeavor."

Maliki's comments came one day after U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker called the government's failure to tackle legislation intended to ease Sunni and Shiite Muslim tensions "extremely disappointing" and two days after the chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee called for the Iraqi parliament to replace Maliki.

President Bush added to the criticism on Tuesday, remarking during a trip to Canada that there is "a certain level of frustration" with Iraq's leaders.

Maliki suggested that U.S. officials were questioning his performance because he was visiting Syria, which the Bush administration has accused of allowing foreign fighters into Iraq.

"The Iraqi government was elected by the Iraqi people," he added.

Maliki's talk of finding cooperation elsewhere is most evident in the growing security and business ties between Iraq and Syria. Maliki hailed Syria's pledge to help stabilise Iraq on his recent visit to Damascus :

Mr Maliki said bilateral diplomatic and economic ties were growing, adding that the two neighbours were working together to stabilise Iraq. Mr Maliki was speaking after talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Relations between Syria and Iraq were only restored last year after a period of almost 25 years.

Countering claims by a host of American NeoCons and Republicans that violence has dropped in Baghdad as a result of the troop "surge" - US officials claim they now control 50% of Baghdad's suburbs - solid investigative reporting from McClatchy correspondents prove the claims of significant reductions in the deaths of Iraqis and American troops is yet more spin.

The US Military continues to unfold its new strategy of recruiting Sunni insurgents as a counter to Al Qaeda, but perhaps more importantly, Shia militia and death squads. The US is accused of dealing from the bottom of the deck with this strategy. While it appears to be yielding positive results, Maliki and his Shia-dominated government are viewing the US alliance with Sunni insurgents, who have launched thousands of attacks on US soldiers and the government, as a betrayal :
Under a tree by a battlefield road in Iraq's "Triangle of Death," Lieutenant- Colonel Robert Balcavage meets his new recruits.

The men are Iraqi Sunni Arabs who are about to join the U.S. military's payroll as a local militia. They want guns.

"I am not giving out guns and ammo," the U.S. commander says. The men listen carefully as the interpreter translates.

"I've been shot at up here enough times to know that there's plenty of guns and ammo. Me personally. Some of you guys have probably taken some pretty good shots at me."

Slowly but deliberately, U.S. forces are enlisting groups of armed men -- many probably former insurgents -- and paying cash, a strategy they say has dramatically reduced violence in some of Iraq's most dangerous areas in just weeks.

It is a rare piece of good news in four years of war, and successes like this are likely to play a prominent part when U.S. commander General David Petraeus makes an eagerly anticipated report to congress in mid-September.

"People say: 'But you're paying the enemy'. I say: 'You got a better idea?'," says Balcavage. "It's a lot easier to recruit them than to detain or kill them."

The multiple car and truck bombings of Yazidi villages in northern Iraq has killed more than 500 people. More than 600 were said to be wounded. Entire villages, literally hundreds of homes, were wiped from the face of the earth, in co-ordinated attacks that looked like the work of a small tactical nuke.

With more than 500 dead, the attacks on the Yazidi now rank as the worst bombings of the entire Iraq War and, perhaps more spectacularly, the largest and most deadly terror attacks since 9/11, and the second highest terror death in modern history.

As Westerners attention is drawn back to the latest celebrity trash, by an easily distracted media, the Yazidi are dealing with the horrific aftermath of the attacks, and trying to work out they will now stay alive :

Nearly one week after four bombs blew apart this village and a neighboring one, Sheikh Khadar, the dead are still being recovered, adding to the toll that already had made last Tuesday’s bombings the deadliest terrorist attack since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

At least 354 people are confirmed dead and 80 more are known to be missing. The toll of the wounded stands at 600. Half of those are in serious condition, and many aren't expected to survive. On Sunday, 10 more bodies were discovered in the rubble of what used to be Tal al Azizziyah’s core. A bulldozer beeped constantly as it pushed through the rubble. American Humvees, absent until last week’s explosions, rolled along the dirt roads.

For most of the survivors, there’s no doubt why their villages were targeted.

“The problem is we are Yazidis,” said one man as he stood among the remains of what had been at least 150 clay houses, now reduced to nothing more than broken shards. “We go to Mosul and Tal Afar, the Arabs and Turkmen try to kill us. …We didn’t stand against anyone. What is our fault?”

The Yazidis are another minority in an Iraq filled with religious and ethnic divides, any one of which can burst into violent warfare, as last week’s bombings made clear. The Yazidis, who trace their religious roots to ancient Persia, aren’t Muslim and have for years been viewed disdainfully by Christians and Muslims as devil worshippers for the homage they pay to Malak Taus, the most revered of seven angels who Yazidis believe were God’s first creations.

The low-slung clay homes have no running water or electricity. Little boys play with makeshift toys fashioned from tin cans and other leftover items.

Villagers remain in shock at the extent of the damage. One of the craters is 15 feet deep and has been hastily filled with rubble — little flip-flops, shreds of children's clothes and men’s headdresses sprinkled amid broken clay blocks, dirt and twisted metal.

Everyone lost a cousin, a neighbor, a father, a brother or a child. The lists were endless.

The Kurdish Regional Government doled out 500 tents, 1,500 mattresses, 3,000 blankets, 500 kitchen sets, 1,000 bed sheets and 450 water tanks. For every family with a fatality the central government had promised 2 million Iraqi dinars, about $1,616.

The mayor of Tal al Azizziyah, Khodr Khodail Rasheed, was at home when the bombs exploded. He ran outside and was met with devastation. Hundreds of dead lay in the streets. Homes had collapsed on them, and a deep crater scarred the landscape. He shook his head when asked if the town could recover.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s just like Hiroshima. We’ve never seen anything like this. It needs time, a long time.”

Everyone expects the attacks to continue to rid Iraq of Yazidi Kurds.

Yazidi have voted to take revenge for the mass slaughter of their people :

Emergency workers continued to drag body parts from the site’s dusty rubble. Among the wounded, one in five suffered serious wounds, and hospital officials reported that hundreds of families had taken their broken loved ones home, despite the threat of infection.

In the area of last week’s attack, the desert villages dominated by Yazidis — a Kurdish-speaking sect whose faith combines Islamic teachings with other ancient religions — struggled to cope. Residents and officials say a constant flow of burials has filled the streets amid the stench of death arising from mounds of beige brick.

Duraid Kashmula, the governor of Mosul, said several regiments of Iraqi soldiers had been deployed to protect the area. Sand barriers have been built around three villages in greater Qahtaniya “to secure the area and prevent any strangers from entering,” he said.

He added that the explosions leveled more than 1,000 houses, most of them made of mud and stone, while another 500 were damaged.

Iraqi officials said no suspects had been arrested. Sunni extremists, who have been warring with Kurds in the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, are believed to be responsible for the attack.

Yazidis may have been targets because of their proximity to Syria’s porous border; for their beliefs (they worship an angel whose name is sometimes translated as Satan in the Koran); or as retribution for an episode in April, when some Yazidis stoned a young Yazidi woman to death for marrying a Sunni.

Yazidis from across the north, where the sect is most concentrated, said they feared that their community of several hundred thousand might not recover.

“I’ve lost 32 people from the families of my five brothers and four sisters,” said Rasheed Muhsin Khesru, 59, a Yazidi from Kirkuk.

Others said the attack would only accelerate Iraq’s already dizzying level of violence.

“In a few days, 10,000 of our men will be ready to protect our areas,” said Kheder Aziz, who was sobbing on a street in Kirkuk. “All the Sunni Arab tribes living around us are responsible, either because they helped with the attack or knew what would happen.”

The Western world's media, meanwhile, has already lost interest in the story. There was no spectacular footage of the attacks that can be played over and over and over again. The victims were mostly Kurds, non-white, and believers in a religion that many Christians would deem strange, and possibly Satanic.

Plus, this is Iraq. And Iraq is the world centre for terror attacks now.

Another 500 dead Iraqis barely even cracks the headlines.

The next time most Westerners are likely to hear about the Yazidi is if they strike back at the Sunni Arabs in a large and spectacularly violent way. Another wave of beheadings and body dumpings, likewise, are unlikely to even make the news in the US and Australia.

France Under Sarkovsky Now Seeks Active Role In Iraq's Future

Pentagon List Of Future Goals Features Only One Entry On Iraq - Pentagon Looks Beyond Iraq War

Don't Give Them Guns - Baghdad Neighbourhood Protests US Arming Of Sunnis

14 GIs Killed In BlackHawk Helicopter Crash

The Iraq War As We Saw It - Seven Serving Marines Risk Retribution To Tell The Truth About What Is Happening In Iraq
Seven US Soldiers Tell The Truth About The War On Iraq

Confirmation Iraqi Army And Police Are Teaming Up To Target US Soldiers

Seven serving soldiers have risked retribution, and their chances of promotion, by speaking out about what they experienced in 15 months of war-fighting in Iraq, and why they believe the Iraq War cannot be won. Unlike American senators who spend as little as ten hours in Iraq and come home talking of the progress and success of the BushCo. troop "surge" strategy, the seven soldiers talk of "mounting civil, political and social unrest".

An historic piece, published in the New York Times, that cuts through the spin and distortion of American NeoCon think tanks, propaganda media and the Bush administration like a hot knife through butter.

It deserves to be republished, and read, in full, by every American, and every person in every country whose governments still support the Bush administration strategies in the War On Iraq.

It is an honor to republish it here :

The War As We Saw It


Viewed from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.

Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.

However, while creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave.

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

Coupling our military strategy to an insistence that the Iraqis meet political benchmarks for reconciliation is also unhelpful. The morass in the government has fueled impatience and confusion while providing no semblance of security to average Iraqis. Leaders are far from arriving at a lasting political settlement. This should not be surprising, since a lasting political solution will not be possible while the military situation remains in constant flux.

The Iraqi government is run by the main coalition partners of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, with Kurds as minority members. The Shiite clerical establishment formed the alliance to make sure its people did not succumb to the same mistake as in 1920: rebelling against the occupying Western force (then the British) and losing what they believed was their inherent right to rule Iraq as the majority. The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment.

Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made — de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government — places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support.

Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.

At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

Buddhika Jayamaha is an Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant.

Australian journalist
John Martinkus recently spent time with the unit of the 82nd Airborne in which the seven soldiers of the above op-ed served. Here's Martinkus on the state of mind of the troops he was embedded with :
The attitude on this trip with these soldiers in Iraq this time - I was quite taken aback, by how negative a lot of them were about the war. There's a few reasons for that, there's the long deployments, there's the uncertainty about when they'll be able to go home. But really, it's this surge and these current operations are really putting a lot of pressure on the military, and it's really, you know, showing up a lot of their weaknesses. And it's the guys on the ground, who are being asked to do these things who know the dangers, know the problems they're facing, they're the ones saying this, and it's not going back up the chain.

Here's Martinkus on what sort of retribution the seven soldiers of 'The War As We Saw It' may face for speaking out :
I think most likely they will (face retribution). The military is a very big, bureaucratic organisation. There's any number of ways that they can be punished. They can have their tours extended, they can be given some unpleasant duties, they cannot be promoted, that kind of thing.
You can watch John Martinkus' balanced and revealing report from his time with the 82nd Airborne here. A follow-up interview with John Martinkus can be viewed here.

General Batiste Op-Ed Explaining Conservative View Of Iraq War Problems - The Wall Street Journal And Washington Times Refuse To Run Editorial

US Republican Senators Spend Ten Hours In Iraq, Come Home Talking Of "Progress" And "Clear Success" In Seven Provinces

Wanted International Criminal Paid $60 Million To Fly US Supply Missions Into Iraq

Number Of Black Americans Signing Up For US Military Service Plunges - "I'm Not Really Into Going Overseas With Guns And Fighting Other People's Wars"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Russia, China, Iran 'Warn' US To Stay Out Of Central Asia

Russia And China Hold War Games

Russia Returns To "Permanent" Long Range Strategic Bomber Flights Across Pacific And Arctic

The economic, strategic and military alliance between China, Iran and Russia continues to firm, as war games in the mountains of Southern Ural involving thousands of Russian and Chinese soldiers, and military units from all member states of theSCO, draw to a close.

Barely reported in Western media was that the Iranian president was a guest of the Chinese and Russian presidents during the week of war games and meetings, and India and Pakistan both sent teams of observers.

Russia has now declared that Iran is not a threat to any nation, and China is buffeting approaches from the United States to join them in a renewed push for tighter economic sanctions against Iran.

At a meeting last week of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) before the war games began, the leaders of Russia, China and Iran issued a joint statement, clearing intending to warn the United States to stay out of Central Asia :

The leaders of Russia, China and Iran have warned the outside world to leave Central Asia alone to look after its own stability and security...

"Stability and security in Central Asia are best ensured primarily through efforts taken by the nations of the region on the basis of the existing regional associations," the leaders said at the end of the (SCO) summit in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an observer at the summit, criticized U.S. missile defense plans as a threat to the entire region. "These intentions go beyond just one country. They are of concern for much of the continent, Asia andSCO members," he said.

(China's President) Hu also said signaled that security for Central Asia was best left to the nations themselves.

"The SCO nations have a clear understanding of the threats faced by the region and thus must ensure their security themselves," he said.

Putin didn't mention the United States in his speech at the summit, but he said that "any attempts to solve global and regional problems unilaterally are hopeless." He also called for "strengthening a multi-polar international system that would ensure equal security and opportunities for all countries" — comments echoing Russia's frequent complaints that the United States dominates world affairs.

The SCO was created 11 years ago to address religious extremism and border security issues in Central Asia. In recent years, with Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia signing on as observers, the group has increasingly grown into a bloc aimed at defying U.S. interests in the region, which has huge hydrocarbon reserves.

In 2005, the SCO called for a timetable to be set for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from two member countries, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan evicted U.S. forces later that year, but Kyrgyzstan still hosts a U.S. base, which supports operations in nearby Afghanistan.

Russia also maintains a military base in Kyrgyzstan.

Moscow and Beijing have developed what they dubbed a "strategic partnership" after the Soviet collapse, cemented by their perceptions that the United States dominates global affairs.

The SCO, whose members are some of the world's biggest energy producers and consumers, also discussed ways to enhance energy cooperation. The U.S. has supported plans for new pipelines that would carry the region's oil and gas to the West and bypass Russia, while Moscow has pushed strongly to control the export flows.

China also has shown a growing appetite for energy to power its booming economy.

A further sign of the group's intention to influence energy markets was the participation in the Bishkek summit of Turkmen President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, whose country is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the former Soviet Union after Russia. Turkmenistan is not a SCO member; the president was attending as a guest

More on the Chinese-Russian war games :

Fighter jets streaked through the air as Russian and Chinese forces held their first joint maneuvers on Russian land Friday in a demonstration of their growing military ties and a shared desire to counter U.S. global clout.

The war games in the southern Ural Mountains involved some 6,000 troops from Russia and China along with a handful of soldiers from four ex-Soviet Central Asian nations that are part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional group dominated by Moscow and Beijing.

The drills coincided with a massive Russian air force exercise in which dozens of Russian strategic bombers ranged far over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.

President Vladimir Putin, Chinese leader Hu Jintao and other leaders of the SCO nations attended the exercise, which followed their summit Thursday in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.

Friday's military exercise involved dozens of aircraft and hundreds of armored vehicles which countered a mock attack by terrorists and insurgents striving to take control of energy resources.

The United States, Russia and China are locked in an increasingly tense rivalry for control over Central Asia's vast hydrocarbon riches.

Moscow objects vehemently to Washington's plans to deploy missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, saying the system would threaten Russia security. The United States says the missile defenses are necessary to avert the threat of possible missile attacks by Iran.

Virtually all the member states of the SCO, and observer nations, like Pakistan and India, have aired public, or diplomatic level, objections to the United States' plans for a missile defence shield.

For what it's worth, Russia is still denying that the SCO is a military bloc. They're fighting terror, says Putin :
Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed as irrelevant allegations that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a military bloc, and highlighted its increasing role in economic cooperation.

Putin said after the exercises: "The SCO today is an organization tackling political and economic issues, and the economic aspect is increasingly coming to the foreground." Comparisons with NATO are entirely untrue, he said.

Although the "Shanghai Six" was originally set up to deal with border disputes that emerged following the breakup of the Soviet Union between the newly-independent states and China, these problems have since been resolved, he said.

The Russian president said that cooperation between member states' militaries is more anti-terrorist than military in nature. Moscow is still faced with the threat of terrorism, and will continue counter-terrorism efforts both at home and abroad, in conjunction with its partners, he added.

To ram the message home that Russia, and the SCO alliance, will not tolerate the United States trying to expand its role as 'global policemen', in effect trying to dominate world events, Russia has renewed "permanent" strategic bomber patrols across the Pacific and Arctic :
We have decided to renew flights of Russian strategic aviation on a permanent basis," Mr Putin said after he and Chinese PresidentHu Jintao attended large-scale joint military exercises near this town in the Urals region.

The flights would resume from Saturday, Mr Putin said.

The announcement came days after Moscow said its strategic bombers had begun exercises over the North Pole, and just a week after Russian planes flew within a few hundred kilometres of a US military base on the island of Guam.

"Russia unilaterally stopped flights of its strategic aviation in distant areas of military action. Unfortunately, not everyone followed our example," he said, in an apparent reference to the United States.

Russia has some 80 long range strategic bombers, many left over from the era of Soviet military build-up, all are said to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The United States is pretending to not be concerned about Russian bomber flights over the Pacific and Arctic :

The United States on Friday shrugged off Russia's decision to resume long-range strategic bomber flights, merely saying it was an "interesting" move.

"If Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again that's their decision," State Department spokesman SeanMcCormack said.

He was commenting after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia would immediately resume long-range strategic bomber flights on a "permanent" basis, ending its 15-year suspension of such missions.

"That is a decision for them to take; it's interesting," McCormack added.

The announcement came days after Moscow said its strategic bombers had begun exercises over the North Pole, and just a week after Russian planes flew within a few hundred kilometers (miles) of a US military base on the island of Guam.

A top US commander said Tuesday that the long-range Russian bombers were flying more often and closer to US territory.

General Gene Renuart, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command, the agencies charged with protecting US and Canadian airspace, said US forces would continue to monitor the activity.

In the five-day exercises over the North pole that began Tuesday, the nuclear-capable bombers practised firing cruise missiles, navigation in the polar region and aerial refueling maneuvers, the Russian air force said in a statement.

More on the welcome the Iranian president received at the SCO summit last week, and the growing expansion of the alliance, which may soon include Afghanistan :
Russia and China today host Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a summit of a Central Asian security club designed to counter U.S. influence in the region.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization invited Iran to become an observer in 2005, sparking concern in the U.S., and Ahmadinejad called for closer ties to the group when he attended last year's summit in Shanghai. Kyrgyzstan is hosting the one-day annual meeting in its capital, Bishkek.

Chinese and Russian officials say the SCO, set up in 2001 with the stated goal of strengthening regional cooperation and combating terrorism, is focused on maintaining stability in the region. Its six members include the four Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose country is battling a resurgent Taliban, is a guest at the summit. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui said Aug. 11 the group wants to cooperate with Afghanistan in fighting drug smuggling and terrorism.

In another unwelcome development for the Americans, Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov also accepted an invitation to attend the summit. His long-ruling predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died last year, had kept the energy-rich country isolated and resisted Russian influence.

Russia in May secured a deal to build a new pipeline to import more gas from Turkmenistan, bolstering its dominant hold on supplies to Europe and heading off a competing U.S.-backed plan that would bypass Russian territory.

Finally, a report on the massive re-arming programs that Russia has launched, as Putin seeks to give Russia a formidable international military presence :
Russian defense spending rose by 22 percent and 27 percent in the past two years, respectively, and could be up as much as 30 percent this year. In February, Sergei Ivanov, then defense secretary and now one of the front-runners to replace Mr. Putin next year, announced an almost $200 billion program of expenditures.

According to Jane's Sentinel Country Risk Assessments, the Russian shopping list includes two new submarine-launched nuclear ballistic missiles, the Bulava and the Sineva — both with a 5,000-mile range and capable of carrying 10 nuclear warheads — and a new anti-aircraft missile, the S-400, which the Russian Defense Ministry claims is effective against incoming missiles. Production of the new SS-27 Topol-M missile, the land-based equivalent of the Bulava, has also begun.

Russia also plans to spend heavily on the new TU-160 strategic bomber, which can launch cruise missiles, the SU-34 "Fullback" fighter-bomber, capable of all-weather attacks on heavily defended targets, and a new fifth-generation fighter, the Sukhoi T-50, which is expected to come into service in 2008 as Russia's main lightweight front-line fighter.

The expanded Russian fleet will include six new nuclear-powered aircraft carriers — a dramatic increase from only one such carrier — and eight ballistic-missile submarines.

The formation and solidifying of 'The Other NATO' would appear to be progressing at an upwards pace comparable to the downwards pace of the Coalition of the Willing's progress in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Between NATO and the CoW, taking in the US, Australia and the UK, primarily, and the growing power and influence of the SCO alliance lies Iran.

China and Russia, along with many other member and observer states of the SCO, regard the protection of Iran as being in their "national interest". NeoCons and US hawks continually push for BushCo. to strike Iran now, and not wait until it begins a nuclear armed nation, if that is Iran's intention. China and Russia state that it is not Iran's intention, and would regard any aggression towards Iran by BushCo. or Israel, as being an act of aggression towards the SCO alliance.

Interesting, dangerous times indeed.

SCO Summit : Putin Says "Security Co-Operation" Is Top Goal

Russia Resumes 'Cold War Era' Long Range Bomber Flights

The Facts On Russia's Long Range Strategic Bombers

It's The West Starting This New Cold War

Russia Says Iran Poses No Threat - Quietly Warns US To Back Off Tighter Sanctions Regime Against Iran

Russia And China Hold War Games - Rattling The West

China, Russia Welcome Iranian President As 'Important Guest' At SCO Summit

Thursday, August 16, 2007

BushCo.'s Big Problem With Pakistan

Musharraf : Not All Taliban Are Terrorists

Pakistan Will Allow Iran To India Gas Pipeline

BushCo. are pressuring Pakistan's president General Pervez Musharraf to enter into a power sharing arrangement with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Musharraf is seen to be dramatically losing favour with middle class Pakistanis, and a growing target of extremists and influential tribal leaders who feel he is doing America's work in crushing supposedly Al Qaeda aligned and sympathetic tribal groups in the Afghanistan border territories.

Musharraf himself has expressed sympathy towards the Taliban, claiming recently that not all Taliban should be regarded as terrorists. Claims by Musharraf that were barely reported in Western media.

The US doesn't want to see Musharraf fall, but they know he cannot cling to power without stirring up more trouble, and spreading the extremists cause. The recent siege of the Red Mosque is now viewed as having been extremely damaging to Musharraf's hold on power, as it resulted in the deaths of dozens of women and children, as well as numerous soldiers.

The more Musharraf cracks down on extremists in Pakistan, and in the Afghanistan border regions, the more he is seen to be fighting America's War on Terror, which for a growing number of Muslims is viewed as a Christian War On Islam.

But the War on Terror also brings in billions of dollars to Musharraf's military. More than $US10 billion since 9/11.

And yet, Musharraf is not playing ball with BushCo. when it comes to Iran. Musharraf has said that it is in his country's "national interest" for a new gas pipeline to pass through Pakistan territory. A pipeline running from Iran to India.

In short, as this story from the Boston Globe puts it, the US has a 'Big Problem' in Pakistan :

After having said he didn't spend much time thinking about Osama bin Laden, the latest National Intelligence Estimate has forced President Bush to face up to the fact that a reconstituted Al Qaeda in Pakistan is a major threat -- perhaps the major threat -- to the United States.

Clearly, President Pervez Musharraf's attempt to buy peace and loyalty on the northwest frontier has backfired. He had hoped to head off increasing support for Islamist extremists, but instead Al Qaeda has been the beneficiary. Frances Townsend, Bush's Homeland Security adviser, spoke the truth when she said; "It hasn't worked for Pakistan, and it hasn't worked for the United States."

The siege and storming of the Red Mosque has riled the faithful, and Musharraf's unlawful and unsuccessful attempt to unseat Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry has made the president of Pakistan look foolish.

But what to do? There have been hints of military action against Al Qaeda in Pakistan, some of them clandestine to avoid embarrassing Musharraf who has forbidden American troops on Pakistani soil. Presidential hopeful Barack Obama has advocated attacking Al Qaeda in Pakistan no matter what the Pakistanis think -- a formula for disaster. The idea of Navy Seals, CIA, or Special Forces operating in some of the most remote and desolate territory on earth without benefit of local knowledge or Pakistani help would be counterproductive in the extreme.

Moreover, the American way of war depends on massive firepower from the air, not the determined, loss-inflicting, village-to-village way that is necessary in irregular warfare. The number of civilian deaths being inflicted in neighboring Afghanistan by American and NATO forces has caused President Hamid Karzai to protest time and time again -- the reason being that these civilian deaths are turning the local population against the government. When the tipping point arrives, all our efforts in Afghanistan are doomed. To repeat this in Pakistan would be a strategic blunder on the scale of Iraq.

A result of American armed intervention in Pakistan could be the dissolution of Pakistan itself. The border lands with Afghanistan, Balochistan, and the Northwest Frontier Province -- never mind the tribal territories -- are a major problem for Pakistan. Costly and nation-threatening revolts have plagued the government since Pakistan was formed.

The British had constant problems in the border regions during their tenure, with armed rebellions in Waziristan as late as the 1930s. The strange arrangement of the tribal territories, which are not completely under the government's control, are a legacy of those times when the British tried to buy peace on the frontier.

Unfortunately not everybody in Pakistan, including some in the intelligence services, think it a bad thing to have a Taliban card to play just in case Afghanistan turns against Pakistan at some future date. Pakistan has not forgotten that once the Soviets called it quits and withdrew beyond the river Oxus, America lost interest and just walked away, leaving the region in chaos.

More on how the US is now prodding Musharraf to share power :

General Musharraf, an important ally since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has lost so much domestic support in recent months that American officials have gotten behind the idea that an alliance with Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister, would be his best chance of remaining president.

The two met in an unannounced session in Abu Dhabi on July 27, but neither has publicly admitted to the meeting. Since then, many in Pakistan have heard the rumors and voiced their doubts about the workability and political wisdom of such a deal, and American officials concede that the proposed power-sharing could come with problems as well as benefits.

But after weeks of unrest in Pakistan, the American officials say a power-sharing agreement that might install Ms. Bhutto as prime minister could help defuse a confrontation in which General Musharraf has already flirted with invoking emergency powers. Administration officials have said they fear that General Musharraf could eventually be toppled and replaced by a leader who might be less reliable as a guardian of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and as an ally against terrorism.

Even if General Musharraf were to insist on remaining as the country’s military leader, American officials say that sharing power could bring a more democratic spirit to Pakistan, which has been a quasi-military dictatorship since 1999, when General Musharraf seized power and ousted Ms. Bhutto’s successor, Nawaz Sharif.

Ms. Bhutto has been holding talks in recent weeks with senior Bush administration officials, including Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, with whom she met privately late last week.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did discuss the idea of a power-sharing arrangement when she called General Musharraf last week at 2 a.m. in Pakistan to warn him not to declare emergency powers, American and Pakistani officials said.

In an interview with The New York Times on Monday, Ms. Bhutto said that she was aware that an alliance with the now-weakened General Musharraf could hurt her politically.

“We want to avoid a situation where we are seen as bailing out an unpopular military dictatorship,” said Ms. Bhutto, who has been living in London and Dubai. She said the pace of the talks between General Musharraf and her Pakistan People’s Party was too slow, with him making promises that he has not kept.

“When we are doing this for a level playing field, when we’re doing this for a higher cause, which is the restoration of the people’s right to elect a government of their choice, that should translate into tangible measures,” Ms. Bhutto said. “And if it doesn’t translate into tangible measures, then it can be misinterpreted by the people at large.”

In comments barely even reported by Western media, let alone commented upon, President Musharraf recently declared that not all Taliban are necessarily terrorists, as the United States widely defines them :

"We must understand the environment. Taliban are a part of Afghan society. Most of them may be ignorant and misguided, but all of them are not diehard militants and fanatics, who even defy the most fundamental values of our culture and our faith Islam," Musharraf said...

To root out Al-Qaida and Taliban militants from the region, Musharraf called for a more comprehensive long-term strategy along with military action.

"Talibanisation and extremism represent a state of mind and require a more comprehensive long-term strategy where military action must be combined with a political approach and socio-economic development," he said.

"Our approach must be focussed on isolating those diehard militants who reject reconciliation and peace. Here, it is a question of winning hearts and minds," he added.

One controversial issue where Musharraf is clearly defying the wishes of BushCo. is on the Iran to India gas pipeline, which will weave through Pakistan territory. President Bush, and the energy cabal that thrust him into power, don't want the pipeline to go ahead, because it will affect world prices and reduce the US-pushed sanctions against countries doing business with Iran to tatters.

Musharraf said the pipeline will go ahead, because it was in Pakistan's "national interest".

Pakistan Warns US On Damage To Relations

Raw Story : How Pakistan Provided Troops And Military Aid To The Taliban

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A World Without The West

China And Russia Unite To Create New International Order, Without The US

Last week we wrote about the formation of a massive new 'Greater Asia' alliance of nations, bringing together China and Russia, and a fleet of the 'Stans, to form a military alliance to stand up to the aggressive might of the West.

This short essay from the Asia Times is far more informed, and nuanced, than our broad strokes, and argues that while a military alliance between China and Russia is not out of the question in the future, for now the Shanghai Co-Operation Organisation (SCO) are more interested in creating a financial and trade bohemoth that no longer needs to rely on the goodwill and the support of the West, primarily the US.

As the writer of this piece describes it, the SCO is now imagining, and making real, the "World without the West" :

What is the significance of "Peace Mission 2007" - the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) exercise now under way at the Chebarkulsk training ground in Chelyabinsk, Russia - and the summit that will follow in Bishkek?

Is the SCO, which consists of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, on the verge of being transformed into a new Warsaw Pact, a Eurasian counterbalance to the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?

Simon Tidsall of The Guardian newspaper quoted Pavel Felgenhauer, a Russian defense analyst, who observed: "As Moscow's relations with the West deteriorate, the Kremlin is doing its best to seek allies and is building up the SCO to counterbalance NATO. In propaganda terms, Peace Mission 2007 will be used to the full."

Meanwhile, the Russian newspaper Kommersant, in an article tellingly titled "Maneuvers to go around the United States", sees the exercises and the summit that will follow in Bishkek as part of a renewed Russian effort to push back against the US "on all fronts", from opposing plans to deploy missile-defense components in central-eastern Europe to "expelling" the US from Central Asia altogether. Kommersant also highlights the role played by former defense minister and current Deputy Prime Minister (and presidential contender) Sergei Ivanov in acting as the godfather of this mission, beginning with his visit to Beijing last year.

Statements coming from China, however, support the thesis advanced by political scientists Naazneen Barma, Ely Ratner and Steven Weber that emerging powers are seeking neither to integrate with nor balance against the US, but to create an alternative international order that "routes around" Washington.

Chen Hu, executive chief editor of China's state-owned World Military Affairs magazine, made a point of stressing that "Peace Mission 2007 targets no country, nor does it mean a military alliance", and argued that the Shanghai grouping is not trying to create a counterbalancing bloc against Washington. He described it as a "new type" of regional security organization that has made obsolete the "traditional security outlook" of seeking a balance of power.

Will Washington be more inclined to work with Beijing and Moscow in stabilizing the Greater Eurasian/Middle Eastern region if NATO falters and the European Union does not live up to the promise Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined in the Winter 2003/04 issue of The National Interest, that the US "can look to only one genuine partner in coping with the 'Global Balkans': Europe"?

Bhadrakumar concludes that "the US will increasingly find itself under compulsion to perform as a team player, which suits neither its geostrategy nor its standing as the sole superpower".

At any rate, we are witnessing an interesting test of the "World without the West" thesis unfolding before our eyes.

Read The Whole Asia Times Story Here

President Hu In Kyrgyzstan For SCO Summit

China Triples Military Spending - The Perils Of A Pacific Arms Race

China And Russia Tease American With War Games

SCO Holds First War Games Involving All Its Member States, Including Russia And China

Russia Plans To Double Military Aviation Production

Monday, August 13, 2007

US Army Crippled, Exhausted By Iraq War

40% Of Equipment Destroyed

Exodus Out Of US Military Increases, Desertions On The Rise, Threat Of Mutinies Become Real

Will President Bush and the NeoCons be remembered for all but destroying the US military? They'll have to be. Otherwise the terrible credit will go to the Iraqi insurgency, and few American historians are likely to hand such an historical accomplishment to 'terrorists'.

Journalist Peter Beaumont was confronted by a string of angry, heavily fatigued members of the US Army during a recent trip to the 'front lines' of Iraq, some of who demanded of him, "'Why don't you tell the truth? Why don't you journalists write that this army is exhausted?'

So Beaumont did, in this devastating mini-portrait of the world's (up until recently) most powerful military machine grinding to a halt in Iraq, staggered by plunging morale, loss of men and equipment and crippled by the will to fight on, when America already sees it as a war now over. But back home, even the Democrats are claiming US troops will remain in Iraq for years to come, as more than 70% of Americans declare they want their troops home.

The only thing left now is for a repeat of the mutiny amongst American forces that began the end of the Vietnam War in 1970-71 :

A whole army is exhausted and worn out. You see the young soldiers washed up like driftwood at Baghdad's international airport, waiting to go on leave or returning to their units, sleeping on their body armour on floors and in the dust.

Where once the war in Iraq was defined in conversations with these men by untenable ideas - bringing democracy or defeating al-Qaeda - these days the war in Iraq is defined by different ways of expressing the idea of being weary. It is a theme that is endlessly reiterated as you travel around Iraq. 'The army is worn out. We are just keeping people in theatre who are exhausted,' says a soldier working for the US army public affairs office who is supposed to be telling me how well things have been going since the 'surge' in Baghdad began.

They are not supposed to talk like this. We are driving and another of the public affairs team adds bitterly: 'We should just be allowed to tell the media what is happening here. Let them know that people are worn out. So that their families know back home. But it's like we've become no more than numbers now.'

The first soldier starts in again. 'My husband was injured here. He hit an improvised explosive device. He already had a spinal injury. The blast shook out the plates. He's home now and has serious issues adapting. But I'm not allowed to go back home to see him. If I wanted to see him I'd have to take leave time (two weeks). And the army counts it.'

A week later, in the northern city of Mosul, an officer talks privately. 'We're plodding through this,' he says after another patrol and another ambush in the city centre. 'I don't know how much more plodding we've got left in us.'

When the soldiers talk like this there is resignation. There is a corrosive anger, too, that bubbles out, like the words pouring unbidden from a chaplain's assistant who has come to bless a patrol. 'Why don't you tell the truth? Why don't you journalists write that this army is exhausted?'

It is a weariness that has created its own culture of superstition. There are vehicle commanders who will not let the infantrymen in the back fall asleep on long operations - not because they want the men alert, but because, they say, bad things happen when people fall asleep. So the soldiers drink multiple cans of Rip It and Red Bull to stay alert and wired.

But the exhaustion of the US army emerges most powerfully in the details of these soldiers' frayed and worn-out lives. Everywhere you go you hear the same complaints: soldiers talk about divorces, or problems with the girlfriends that they don't see, or about the children who have been born and who are growing up largely without them.

'I counted it the other day,' says a major whose partner is also a soldier. 'We have been married for five years. We added up the days. Because of Iraq and Afghanistan we have been together for just seven months. Seven months ... We are in a bad place. I don't know whether this marriage can survive it.'

The anecdotal evidence on the ground confirms what others - prominent among them General Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State - have been insisting for months now: that the US army is 'about broken'. Only a third of the regular army's brigades now qualify as combat-ready. Officers educated at the elite West Point academy are leaving at a rate not seen in 30 years, with the consequence that the US army has a shortfall of 3,000 commissioned officers - and the problem is expected to worsen.

And it is not only the soldiers that are worn out. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the destruction, or wearing out, of 40 per cent of the US army's equipment, totalling at a recent count $212bn (£105bn).

The army's exhaustion is reflected in problems such as the rate of desertion and unauthorised absences - a problem, it was revealed earlier this year, that had increased threefold on the period before the war in Afghanistan and had resulted in thousands of negative discharges.

'Modern war is exhausting,' says Major Stacie Caswell, an occupational therapist with a combat stress unit attached to the military hospital in Mosul. Her unit runs long group sessions to help soldiers with emerging mental health and discipline problems: often they have seen friends killed and injured, or are having problems stemming from issues at home - responsible for 50 to 60 per cent of their cases. One of the most common problems in Iraq is sleep disorders.

'This is a different kind of war,' says Caswell. 'In World War II it was clear who the good guys and the bad guys were. You knew what you would go through on the battlefield.' Now she says the threat is all around. And soldiering has changed. 'Now we have so many things to do...'

'And the soldier in Vietnam,' interjects Sergeant John Valentine from the same unit, 'did not get to see the coverage from home that these soldiers do. We see what is going on at home on the political scene. They think the war is going to end. Then we have the frustration and confusion. That is fatiguing. Mentally tiring.'

The most insightful, and devastating, of the comments in Beaumont's story come from the media wranglers assigned to show him all the good that the Iraq War has achieved, and how the war is being won. When the US Army cannot even find positive-heavy soldiers to double as media mythmakers, then how truly terrible is the problem of morale in Iraq?

It doesn't take much imagination to sense the scale of dissent in the ranks. It is the key reason why the Pentagon began cracking down on the use of blogs, and uncensored letters and e-mails, back in 2005. Two years ago. And conditions on the ground in Iraq have grown only more horrific since then.

Back home, American veterans and their families are now joining protests outside the home of Vice President Cheney, along with his neighbours, toppling an effigy of him, in homage to the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue that Americans were once led to believe signified the end of the Iraq War. More than four years ago.

Australia Prepares To Withdraw Troops From Iraq - Prime Minister Howard Tries To Blackmail Maliki Government

The Truth About The Iraq War And The Insurgency : Extraordinary Interview With Leader Of The Iraqi Resistance

US Troops On The Ground In The South Of Baghdad - 'The Land Of Blood Feuds' - "We Have So Many Enemies Here"

Iran Tells US To Withdraw Forces, Stop Supporting "Terror Groups"

Iraqi Tribes Clash North Of Basra

Iraqi Refugees Rejected, Humiliated By Arab Brethren

War Games Predict 'Chaos' In US Withdrawals From Iraq

Has The Iraq War Led To The Deaths Of ONE MILLION Iraqis?

Sunni Politician Begs For Help From Arab Nations To Stop "Genocide Campaign" By Shiite Militias

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bush, Cheney Threaten War On Iran

New York Times, Washington Post Create 'War On Iran' Reality

Iran and Maliki Government Firm Ties, As Iran Promises Security To Help 'Secure' Iraq

If the United States, with the help of Israel, attacks Iran in the coming year, the moment that Vice President Dick Cheney gave a chilling, lopsided grin in response to a question about what the US intends to do about Iran will go down in history as the first clear sign that BushCo. was readying for more war :
When Larry King asked Cheney in an interview on July 31, ""Would you make an overt move on Iran?" Cheney said with a grin, "For what reason?" He then added, "I'm not going to speculate about prospective operations."
Cheney has been instrumental in preparing the homeland for a series of air strikes on the nuclear energy infrastructure of Iran. Naturally, he has been helped out enormously in this task by the same cabal of warpig NeoCons who created a looming enemy danger out of Iraq in 2002.

And the Washington Post, and the New York Times have been primary in giving voice to the NeoCons and the infamous rollcall of "senior military sources" and "White House sources", just as they did before when most Americans barely even knew the Iraq War was already locked and loaded for March 2003.

President Bush is pumping the claim that Iran are arming, training and funding Shia insurgents in Iraq to attack and kill American troops, primarily through the use of "advanced" IEDs

But how true are those claims? Think Progress rounds up the expert opinions :

Gen. Peter Pace told reporters he has no evidence of any links between the explosives killing Americans and the Iranian government.

– A National Intelligence Estimate released in February concluded that Iranian involvement was “not likely” to be a major driver of violence.

– A recent McClatchy analysis of U.S. casualties in Iraq confirms earlier reports that the great majority of foreign fighters in Iraq are Sunni Saudis, not Iranians.

Last Thursday, President Bush issued his first clear warning of the military action to come :

Bush left no doubt at his news conference that he intended to get tough with Iran.

"One of the main reasons that I asked Ambassador Crocker to meet with Iranians inside Iraq was to send the message that there will be consequences for . . . people transporting, delivering EFPs, highly sophisticated IEDs (improvised explosive devices), that kill Americans in Iraq," he said.

He also appeared to call on the Iranian people to change their government.

"My message to the Iranian people is, you can do better than this current government," he said. "You don't have to be isolated. You don't have to be in a position where you can't realize your full economic potential."

More from Raw Story :
The degree of responsibility than can be placed on Iran and the Shiite groups it supports for current attacks in Iraq is not clear. Until recently the US tended to blame most Iraqi violence on Sunni insurgents and al Qaeda. However, what McClatchy describes as a "growing drumbeat of allegations about Iranian meddling in Iraq" appearing in US media is beginning to remind observers of the media campaign in 2002 that led up to the invasion of Iraq.

Kurt Nimmo writes that Cheney "is getting antsy to kill Iranian toddlers and grandmothers" :
Let’s cut to the chase: Cheney is not “skeptical of diplomacy with Iran,” but rather finds it abhorrent and anathema. As a neocon, Cheney wants to bomb Iran and kill untold numbers of Iranian toddlers and grandmothers—anything short of mass murder will be wholly insufficient. As for this purported “truckload of fighters or weapons,” Publisher & Editor notes: “It was reminiscent of the day in September 2002 when Cheney and other officials went on Sunday talk shows and touted the now-infamous Gordon-Judith Miller front-pager in the Times on the ‘aluminum tubes’ in Iraq and the possible ‘mushroom cloud’ on the horizon.” Of course, plenty of clueless and ill-informed Americans bought into this transparent scam and no doubt many will this time around as well.

Think Progress details how the Washington Post and the New York Times are facilitating the NeoCon push for a War On Iran, through one-sided stories on the "debate" and through the use of non-attributed sources to build a consensus amongst Americans that Iran is already fighting a war against the US through Iraqi insurgents :

In today’s Washington Post, reporter Robin Wright gives neoconservative pundits like the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol and AEI’s Michael Rubin a platform to advocate for military action against Iran. Wright suggests these calls are part of “a new drumbeat for bolder action.” Without offering opposing viewpoints, Wright recycles the preemptive strike theories of her sources — all prior advocates of preemptive military action against Iraq.

Like the NYT’s Michael Gordan before her, Wright uncritically reports the Bush administration’s claim that “since May, the first formal talks between U.S. and Iranian envoys in 28 years have not deterred Iranian support for Iraqi Shiite militias targeting U.S. troops and the Green Zone,” a claim that has become media conventional wisdom.

Iran, meanwhile, knows exactly what is going on :

AN Iranian minister said the United States had dropped the idea of attacking Iran but wants to topple its leadership through a "soft revolution".

Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, a cleric, said Iran's enemies had waged "psychological warfare" to prepare for military action against the Islamic Republic.

In comments carried overnight by the government-owned Iran newspaper, he suggested the country's successful defence against Iraqi forces during the 1980-88 war and more recent US setbacks in Iraq had, however, forced the Americans to rethink.

"The resistance of the Iranian nation during the eight years of holy war and the defeat of the enemies in the Middle East caused the Global Arrogance (the United States) to put aside the option of a military attack against Iran," he said.

Iran is also locking in a series of new trade, diplomatic, energy and military alliances with the Maliki government. On behalf, of Maliki, the Iranian government is promising to help Iraq sort out its security, but is demanding the US withdraw its forces from Iraq :

An end to violence in Iraq depends on the US withdrawing its troops, Iran told Iraq’s prime minister yesterday, seeking to deflect blame for bloodshed that the US directs at Tehran.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, facing political woes at home and US criticism for lack of progress in bridging sectarian division, won support from Shiite Iran in a visit to Tehran.

These latest move by Iran and Maliki has sent Australia, a key ally in the Coalition of the Willing, into a near state of apoplexy. Australia's prime minister, John Howard, is now demanding the Maliki government meet numerous political goals, and get the Oil Law passed, or Australia will withdraw its forces.

Howard's big demands to Maliki came only hours after the prime minister "discussed Iraq" with President Bush.

Unlike the US, Australia still has diplomatic ties with Iran, and it is looking more likely that Australia will be used by BushCo. to ramp up the pressure. Pressure that Iran, however, is unlikely to feel, or react positively to.

Iran sees no reason why it should play by the Coalition's rules. It has Russia and China on side, and a solid relationship with the Maliki government in Iraq. Iran only has to look to the media in the United States to see the growing chorus of opinionists and even key Republicans now saying the Iraq War is lost.

Iran knows that BushCo., despite the rhetoric of the NeoCons, has little support for military action against its nuclear energy infrastructure.

Like BushCo. the NeoCons are a fading force in American politics and influence.

How The American Zionist Lobby Launched Their Pro-Iran War Propaganda Campaign In 2006 In New York, With The Help Of Republican Senators

Fears Of US Attacks On Iran Grow As Media Campaign Hots Up

Cheney Urges Strikes On Iran, Bush Steps Up To Back The Vice President

Iran Promises To Help Iraq's Security