The Times is reporting that "President Bush has put off his scheduled meeting with the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, in Jordan until Thursday, according to the White House. An official said the postponement was not related to the publication today of a classified memorandum that questioned Mr. Maliki's capabilities. Mr. Bush arrived in Amman from Riga, Latvia, in the early evening and had been scheduled to meet with Mr. Maliki and with King Abdullah of Jordan shortly afterward; Mr. Maliki arrived in Amman from Baghdad earlier in the day. The White House counselor, Dan Bartlett, said that the postponement of the meeting was not a snub of Mr. Maliki, nor did it have anything to do with the publication of the leaked memorandum, The Associated Press reported. "Absolutely not," Mr. Bartlett told the A.P." Of course not. No, not at all. The reason the meeting is being postponed is because the White House was misinformed about the availability of a good Mexican restaurant where Bush could take Maliki. Turns out the one the White House had in mind is renovating. So they're exploring Chinese. Or maybe Vietnamese. Or Maybe Pakistani.
Surrender and Retreat Marines Pulling Out of Anbar
Earlier this week a “secret” report prepared by the U.S. Marines by Colonel Peter Devlin, “a senior and seasoned military intelligence officer with the Marine Expeditionary Force” (according to The Age) concluded that the insurgency in Iraq’s al-Anbar province cannot be defeated short of a large increase in military firepower there. No such increase is forthcoming. ABC News then reported that “Pentagon officials are considering a major strategic shift in Iraq, to move U.S. forces out of the dangerous Sunni-dominated al-Anbar province and join the fight to secure Baghdad. The news comes as President Bush prepares to meet with Iraq's prime minister to discuss the growing sectarian violence. The two will meet in Jordan, where they are expected to focus on hammering out a plan to increase the strength and numbers of Iraqi forces.” In other words, a troop increase is being sought but only to turn Baghdad, or at least a few parts of Baghdad that could be advertised to television reporters by the Lincoln Group (the U.S. military and government’s propaganda arm in Iraq) as Fortress Iraq. It’s an Orwellian strategy of deception à-la-Wag the Dog. If you can’t secure a country, create a sound stage where it looks as if you’re securing the country. But now that the Marines have failed in al-Anbar, what’s say that the military can succeed even in its own sound stage in Baghdad? It’s a retreat, pure and simple, and no different from the slow but certain retreats of South Vietnam, from Dong Xoai, then Phuoc Long, then Hue and Da Nang, and finally, Saigon, and that last helicopter ride off the roof of the U.S. embassy. (At least back then the embassy wasn’t the $650 million monstrosity that is the U.S. embassy compound emerging out of the Green Zone.) The only difference is that by 1974 the U.S. military had left the South Vietnamese to die on their own. The Pentagon is doing that in Iraq, too, except in Baghdad, where it’ll hold out for a little longer, play the game of peace talks and broken treaties, then take its last ride off the roof, too. (Meanwhile, Steve Schippert, who still believes the delusion that "Fallujah was successfully cleared and al-Qaeda’s base of operations there destroyed," thinks losing is a terrific winning strategy. The Lincoln Group should grab this guy. He's a cubic zirconium mine.)
Operation Iraqi Freedom, c. 2006
Ngo Dinh Diem in Baghdad Prelude to Assassination
The big story this morning is the intelligence memo prepared for the Bush administration, and leaked to the New York Times, casting doubt on Iraqi prime minister Maliki’s ability to carry out the U.S. agenda in Iraq. Two quick points: The memo is not nearly the big news it is being played as. If every member of the Bush administration, beginning with Bush, wasn’t writing doodles and limericks about the incompetence of the Iraqi prime minister during their morning prayers and afternoon football pool parties, you’d have to doubt the capacity of the administration to spot the elephant in its Rose Garden. But that’s just it: this administration couldn’t spot an elephant in the Rose Garden if it was a whole “Jungle Book” production. Not if the administration was intent on seeing a sand pile there. Maliki’s incompetence is only partly inherent to his lack of leadership skills (he’s no Mandela). Even if a Mandela was put in his place, the political infrastructure and military reality the United States set up and enabled make it impossible for an Iraqi leader to rule, period. That memo about Maliki says nothing about Maliki. It says everything about the Bush administration’s continuing arrogance. Take a look at the very first paragraph. Rudyard Kipling could have written it:
We returned from Iraq convinced we need to determine if Prime Minister Maliki is both willing and able to rise above the sectarian agendas being promoted by others. Do we and Prime Minister Maliki share the same vision for Iraq? If so, is he able to curb those who seek Shia hegemony or the reassertion of Sunni power? The answers to these questions are key in determining whether we have the right strategy in Iraq.
“We need to determine if Prime Minister Maliki is both willing and able…” Unless Maliki is a suicidal fool, why question his willingness, and why do so in such militaristic phraseology (a hint about who authored that memo, by the way: it’s got the Pentagon’s fingerprints all over it). “The sectarian agendas being promoted by others”? The Bush administration provoked the sectarianism from day one when it disbanded the military, allowed the looting of the nation and enabled a quick entrenching of disenchantment to replace the old autocracy of Saddam. Don Rumsfeld’s minimalist military ensured that the disastrous set-up would endure. And now the memo’s authors are bleating about sectarian agendas being promoted by others? Then that beautifully naked imperialist line, which again reveals that military-style naiveté (a general and a rube must’ve written this): “Do we and Prime Minister Maliki share the same vision for Iraq?” Let me interject, with apologies and readers’ indulgence, a little Arabic here, if only to reflect a tiny bit of Iraqi sentiment in the face of such a line: Who the fuck is the United States to assume it has an iota of a voice in deciding what kind of vision Iraq ought to have for itself? Who the fuck is the United States to turn the Maliki government into a corporate board room with a “vision statement” pleasing to shareholders back in Washington and at the Council on Foreign Relations? “If so,” comes the next phrase. If so. If so facto, in other words: muscle a conclusion on top of an assumption, leading up to that final line, the kicker, or more accurately the kick in Iraq’s ass: “The answers to these questions are key in determining whether we have the right strategy in Iraq.” Whether we have the right strategy in Iraq. The we in this case is left vague. Is “we” to represent a partnership between the United States and the Maliki government? Of course not. It’s the royal we, representing American designs alone. Maliki is the revealed puppet, the pipeline fopr America’s intention. He happens to be clogged and craggy at the moment. And what the memo sets out is not the steps to unclog him, but, as in an employee’s file back at human resources, the documentation necessary to back-up his eventual firing. Or, as American methods traditionally have it, the eventual blind eye to his assassination. All this as Bush, the lamest-duck president since Buchanan, prepares to meet the legless Maliki in that gentle dictatorship known as Jordan. As John Burns put it in a perfect sum-up to this anti-summit, “Dismal trends in the war — measured in a rising number of civilian deaths, insurgent attacks, sectarian onslaughts and American troop casualties — have merged with growing American opposition at home to lend a sense of crisis to the talks in Amman. But American fortunes here are ever more dependent on feuding Iraqis who seem, at times, almost heedless to American appeals.”
Cruel, Childish Taunts Still Wondering Why Americans Are Despised In Iraq? Watch
Iraqi-Profit Wish List Pentagon Wants $127 billion Extra
You knew the Pentagon and the Bush administration were going to collude into a bonanza of a challenge to the Democratic Congress with their newest war “supplemental” request. Think of it as a way to dare Congress to say no to military support, even though it’s as outrageous a funding request even in the context of three years of outrageous requests. From the LATimes:
Congressional and military officials have said the Pentagon is considering a request of $127 billion to $150 billion in new emergency war spending, the largest such request since the special spending measures were begun in 2001. So far, Congress has allocated $495 billion for Afghanistan, Iraq and terrorism-related efforts. Even within the Pentagon, the spending request is generating controversy. The Pentagon was due to forward its request to the White House by about Nov. 15. But a senior Defense Department official said that the decision has been delayed and that Pentagon officials have asked Army and Air Force officials to provide more justification for their spending demands. […] The upcoming request, added to the $70 billion already allocated for next year, would easily exceed the annual cost of the Vietnam War at its height. Adjusted for inflation, the U.S. spent $121 billion on the Vietnam War in 1968, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Still, the overall cost of the Vietnam War — about $663 billion adjusted for inflation — is still larger than the combined costs of the fighting thus far in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the research service.
But not for long. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has begun its PR offensive to convince Americans that it really, really needs that wish list fulfilled, or else. Quick: get those Rubicons as Pentagon stocking stuffers.
Remember Those Illegal CIA Prisons?
From the Washington Post: “Details of the flights and testimony from airport employees constitute "serious circumstantial evidence" that Szymany [in northeast Poland, home to gulag-era prisons] was the transfer point for a nearby secret prison run by the CIA, according to a report released Tuesday by a European Parliament committee that is investigating CIA counterterrorism operations in Europe. […]The committee said that it had found records of 1,245 CIA-operated flights landing at European airports or passing through European airspace, though it found evidence of only a handful of cases in which prisoners were transported. The investigative committee said it suspected that the prison held captured al-Qaeda leaders and that it was housed in a nearby Polish intelligence training center at Stare Kiejkuty, in northeastern Poland. Although the committee acknowledged that it lacked proof, it cited testimony of airport employees that they were kept away from the mysterious flights by Polish military officials and were prohibited from conducting passenger checks or customs inspections.”The full story…
From Diane McWhorter in Slate: "The extent to which it is verboten to bring up Nazi Germany has now
become a jape. "Can't pols just have little Post-its on their microphones reminding them not to compare anything to the Nazis?" Maureen Dowd wrote in the Times recently, after yet another off-message senator was taken to the woodshed. The ban applies equally to the arena of intellectual debate, such that even the wild and woolly Internet has a Godwin's Law to describe the cred-killing effect of dropping the N-bomb. So, even though it is a truism that we learn by analogy, even though the Bush administration unapologetically practices the reality-eschewing art of propaganda—with procured "journalists," its own "news" pipeline at Fox, leader-centric ("war president") stagecraft, the classic Big Lie MO of, say, draft avoiders smearing war heroes as unpatriotic—we are not permitted to draw any comparisons to the über-propagandists of the previous century. That prohibition is reiterated in the coy caution with which I introduce the topic here. The taboo is itself a precept of the propaganda state." See the full piece...
Les Fans Soccer and Loathing in Paris
From The Times: “They call themselves the ultras. They are the hardest of the hard-core soccer fans of France, the ones with the edgy reputations for being racist, right-wing, anti-Semitic and even violent. For two decades, they have operated openly as fan associations without much interference from the police or soccer officials, who have claimed that they have limited authority to stop them. On Thursday night, a group of these ultra-right-wing supporters of the Paris St.-Germain team set off a chain of events that ended with one of their own being shot to death by a black policeman.The episode has set off nationwide soul-searching and finger-pointing as the French government as well as soccer officials, analysts and fans have confronted the violence and hate that have poisoned the sport.” The full story…