Showing posts with label Iraq. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iraq. Show all posts

December 23, 2008

America’s wars and the next administration

By Jason Corley

Will Obama soon be forced to take ownership of America’s foreign wars just as Nixon did during Vietnam? Will the proposed troop surges in Afghanistan and the strategy to leave a sizable residual force in Iraq be seen as escalation and prolongation of the two wars by an Obama administration?

The long awaited decision on Iraqi troop withdrawal has all but ended. The Bush administration began hammering out SOFA agreements in the past months and the soon-to-be-arriving Obama administration added urgency to the process. The troop reduction will begin sometime in 2009 and is scheduled to be complete by 2010 or 2011. Of course, the unknown variables remain a huge part of the equation for the formula on success. If the security situation remains stable the withdrawal may go smoothly and according the plans hashed out by the U.S. and Iraq governments.

However, if the departure signals to the insurgency, believed to be somewhere between scattered and dormant, that they are back in business then obviously all bets are off and America will find itself in the fight for another round.

To those who expect a full withdrawal will be sorely disappointed. Roughly, a little more than a third of the troops are set to depart. Those are the troops serving in combat, frontline, roles in providing security for Iraq.

There will be an estimated 70,000 to 90,000 troops still remaining in Iraq. Withdrawal used in the language of the SOFA agreement is purposely misleading and leaves a large amount of leeway for both governments to remain flexible.

We may consider this phase two or the Iraqi project. The forces left in place will help provide for training, logistics, and security and to ensure that democracy has the opportunity to take root and blossom. Furthermore, Iraqi has always been a bold longterm project. Their government has ambitions in becoming a prosperous, powerful and free nation. Nuclear ambitions are not out of the question, though, it is doubtful if it would mean anything other than peaceful purposes. These goals take time and it takes security for the infant democracy to grow. Americans can expect a longterm presence in Iraq with tens-of-thousands of troops scattered in various bases around the country.

This will undoubtedly come as a disappointment to some Americans who expected and rather naively believed that U.S. troop presence would vanish 16-months into the new Obama administration. It also may cause a backlash to Obama in Iraq itself. Since violence has been reduced, but likely to continue on some scale, a lot of Iraqis are expecting the presence of the U.S. to be gone soon.

It will be interesting to see what agreements and decisions will be made on Iraq after January 20, 2009.

In the meantime, we can judge for ourselves what the new Obama administration plans to do in Afghanistan. Admiral Mike Mullen announced that the Pentagon could double the existing forces there by 20,000 – 30,000 troops bringing the total up to 60,000. This comes on the heels of the report that showed this year was the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001. Admiral Mullen also stated, the 31,000 troops already in place were plenty combat efficient but more troops were needed to control and pacify the territory that had been cleared of Taliban.

President-elect Obama stated several times throughout this campaign that more focuse was needed in Afghanistan and called for additional troops in the country. It appears that the Pentagon has announced an important piece of Obama’s early foreign policy initiatives and gives a good indication on what America, and the world, can expect from America’s military and goals in the Mid East.

The biggest questions are these: will the additional troops simply come from the ones pulled out of Iraq? Will Obama trade one war for another? And by doing so, does he inherent both wars especially by escalating forces in Afghanistan and leaving a sizable force in Iraq? Does he risk spreading the military too thin by committing to Afghanistan while Iraq is still susceptible to homegrown terror?

President-elect Obama may find himself in the same shoes that Nixon was forced to try on. He inherited an unpopular war on January 20, 1969, that America stumbled into under Kennedy and was woefully mismanaged by Johnson. Nixon withdrew forces, but because of reality it was not quick enough, and the death count was still too high for America to stomach in war that most did not understand. President Nixon called for devastating bombing campaigns along with renewed ground campaigns that sent the enemy finally reeling but was accused of escalation by doing so. Eventually his bold actions led America out of Vietnam but not before he was forced to assume ownership of the same war he campaigned against and was elected to halt.

This post was written by Jason Corley a student of history and politics, believer in American exceptionalism and one with a keen interest in human events and world affairs.

I believe in American exceptionalism not because Americans are inherently exceptional from any other group of peoples, but it is because of the institutions and values that govern our nation that truly are. The only way to confront the inevitable challenges that await us are to draw on our very best and overcome any obstacle or any foe for the betterment of mankind as the countless generations before us have. It is up to the West not to forget the things that have made them the trend setters and leaders of the world. If that should happen, then that is the final step towards declination.
Jason recently launched a new blog, The Western Experience - A Journal on Human Events, Western Culture and American Power. We wish him well ...

November 25, 2008

How wrong the war now that Iraq is better off…

Here is an uncommon argument in favor of the Iraq war presented in the most cannot be ignored, matter of fact terms. Avoided are any ideological and ethical nuances, as University of Chicago professor Eric Posner shows us that life has improved for many ordinary Iraqi’s since Saddams regime was toppled. According to Posner, many more would have died if Hussein had stayed in power.

... conditions have greatly improved in Iraq. Security and other services are returning; whether or not democracy lasts, dictatorial rule seems unlikely to recur. Oil revenues pour in. The economy, thanks in part to the high price of oil, is growing (or perhaps was, now that the price of oil is down). The majority of the country—Shiites and Kurds who suffered grievously under Saddam’s reign—have significant political power. It is likely that if the poll were conducted today, a majority would agree that an invasion—of their own country by a distrusted and now hated foreign power—was “right.

About one hundred thousand Iraqis have died as a result of the war; probably many more. Many others have been maimed, still others abused in various ways. Even with greatly increased political and (what has not been measured but is probably more significant) religious freedom, could these human costs be justified?

To answer this question, one needs to look at the counterfactual: how would Iraqis be doing if the war had not occurred. The status quo ante was one in which Saddam Hussein was in power but his power was constrained by a sanctions regime that had immiserated Iraq and indeed had killed many thousands of Iraqi children.

The sanctions regime, which began in 1990, destroyed Iraq’s economy (reducing GDP by as much as three quarters) and impoverished millions of Iraqis. Particular attention was given at the time to its effect on children. The contemporary critics of the sanctions pointed out that before the sanctions began, the child mortality rate was about 50 per 1000; during the sanctions, on one accounting the rate soared to about 128 per 1000 (click on "basic indicators" here). More conservative estimates
were in the range of a doubling of child mortality. Using the more conservative estimate, at one million births per year, this works out to an annual difference of 50,000 children surviving to the age of 5 (for various qualifications, see here). Today, the child mortality rate is below the pre-sanctions figure, and so every year in excess of 50,000 more Iraqi children survive than during the sanctions. The data are hotly contested but the trends are unmistakable and will continue to strengthen if security improves. Meanwhile, violent deaths of civilians, while still far too high, are declining; a very cautious estimate of 500-800 per month, based on the most recent reports on the Iraq Body Count website, is much lower than the avoided deaths of children compared to the sanctions regime. A conservative estimate is that more than 40,000 Iraqis survive per year today than during the sanctions regime, and probably most of them children. The tight correlation between GDP and child mortality across countries bolsters this conclusion.

Let’s suppose that the sanctions regime had continued for 10 years, from 2003 to 2013, and further that security flattens out—it doesn’t get worse, but it doesn’t get better. Under these assumptions, 400,000 Iraqi children would have died if the war had not occurred and the sanctions regime continued. Now, almost 100,000 Iraqis died during the war, and so one of the war’s benefits is that it saves the lives of 300,000 Iraqis (over 10 years).

The sanctions regime did not just kill children; it also killed adults, though no one knows how many. It also severely damaged Iraq’s economy, which had already been badly harmed by the Iran-Iraq war. The 2003 war damaged it even more, but now the economy is recovering. GDP per capita (PPP) in 2002 was about $2400; today it is about $3600. Everyone hears about how bad electricity is in Iraq, but that is news from Baghdad. For the country as a whole, there is more electricity generation today than there was prewar (see the Brookings report). If Iraq continues to recover, Iraqis will be a lot better off, financially, than they ever were, even taking into account the financial and physical hardships of the war years. And the recovery will benefit (and has benefited) the Kurds and Shiites in particular, who were badly treated during the Saddam regime, though the Kurds (not the Shiites) benefited from the (expensive) U.S. security umbrella and managed to enjoy some autonomy in the north.

Finally, the sanctions regime contained Saddam and protected the Kurds, but Saddam was still a dictator, and he tortured, murdered, and oppressed his own people. Shiites now have a chance to influence policy, for the first time in memory. Whether Iraq is really a democracy or not, its political system is clearly a lot healthier than it was under Saddam. Corruption is bad, but it was also bad under Saddam, and the middle east is filled with corrupt countries. >> more
Granted that Posner ethic would not be everyone’s” cup of tea” hence, is it right to kill one to save many, recall the words of the fictitious Spock, "The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few,...or the one".

In the interests of the greater good I believe such reasonong is valid.

For those interested in the Brookings Institution’s Iraq index on which Posner bases his case click here.

Update: Professor Eric Posner has made a correction to the original post. The poll referred to was not in the Brookings Report but in a CSIS report, see slides 113-14.

October 28, 2008

A Better Country: Why America was Right to Confront Iraq

... As the 2008 election approaches, Americans have a civic duty to reassess the war in Iraq ...

The past six years have seen a plethora of book titles devoted to the Iraq war debate. While for the most part they painted a negative picture early on some, but not all recent titles draw the opposite conclusion. I was recently introduced to one such title, A Better Country: Why America was Right to Confront Iraq. Written by a member of The Greatest Generation and a Democrat, Arthur Borden’s book is not merely another polemic but an account as seen through the mind of a career lawyer who enlightens readers within the context of modern U.S. foreign policy in the region.

… Borden a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School guides readers through the historical events leading up to the 2003 invasion, focusing on the emotionally charged public debate while also navigating the politics, opposition, and responsibility of the U. S. to address the Iraqi regime. A Better Country reminds us that, stretching back to the presidency of Jimmy Carter and before, there had been a broad consensus over the touchstone issues of Iraq, the Middle East, and the unmentionable reality of oil – until political argument became degraded by charges of betrayal and wholesale deception … It sets the record straight on the threat of Saddam’s regime and on the U.S. decision to invade Iraq. It cuts through the confusions of the war debate, and it will help to overcome the deep and disabling divisions in America’s civic life.

With a razor-sharp legal mind, he presents the testimony of presidents, congressman, senators, and other foreign policy architects on both sides of the political spectrum, who for the last several decades acknowledged that a secure Persian Gulf region is crucial to American survival.
It should not surprise many that my view is in accord with that of the author in any event, a belief based on at least two premises.

1. That many on the left, including the sensitized anti-Bush and anti war horde have a fixed unaccountable interest in American failure in Iraq (and Afghanistan) and that increasingly this horde has come to include many well to do, sensible and overly righteous educated types who see failure as necessary outcome to dent American pride and honor and

2. History being a sound judge proves that the U.S. is not the power hungry bloodthirsty conqueror that takes away liberty as many extremists suggest. I do not recall an America taking away any freedom or hijack resources during WWII; they fought and won on the back of sound principles. After the conflict they worked together with and rebuilt Western Europe while enemies of America took hold of the eastern part of the continent. By the 1990’s Western Europe was modern and thriving while the Eastern states were poor and driven under. It is much the same with North and South Korea. Even in Vietnam where America lost, things are on the up because they have chosen to pursue freedom at the expense of socialist ideology.

America only profited from these nations because it established trade and democratic governance not because it stole. America’s enemies, and in particular the Islamists can argue all they like about America being evil, in Afghanistan they were given a chance to demonstrate their wares, prove to us they can govern in a civilized manner, so what did they do? Recall woman dragged before crowds and shot. Islamists having been given a chance to validate their model ways and failed dismally, hence it is time we supported America in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In terms of historical analysis as a wartime President, Bush like Truman before him, is in line for positive reconsideration.

As both the media release and Arthur Borden outlines, “As the 2008 election approaches, Americans have a civic duty to reassess the war in Iraq.”

A Better Country: Why America was Right to Confront Iraq is necessary reading for all of us seeking not just better understanding, but also a sense of finely honed discernment about how America arrived at where she is today.

August 14, 2008

Freedom is not free, and a word about Bush

Freedom is not free - A stirring documentary about our warriors

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight; nothing he cares about more than his own personal safety; is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." John Stuart Mill

They are revolutionaries proudly wearing the true colors that carry the weight of the world in their immigrant red, white, and blue hands … They understand that war is not easy, and they are aware that within its frenzy of gloom it reanimates the speechless … Can we ignore misery and deepen the darkness by laying back like reclining nudes with faraway eyes? No grace, no grit, no honor.

The makers of this documentary sort to Honor Our Warriors, to raise funding and to aid wounded service members, their families, and the families of the fatally wounded. A project designed to show us all what intelligent, honorable, and brave people we have standing in the way of the free world’s demise.

I urge my readers to view the trailer here

Related: Australian Long Tan heroes finally honored


A Word about Bush

When Harry S Truman left office at the end of this second term he had a dismal approval rating of just 23 per cent. Many including his own staff judged him a failure and disliked him. He was considered the worst President since Harding of the Great Depression days.

Today on the other hand he is judged as one of the greats, and the man who set the wheels in motion for the United States to eventually defeat Communism. Do we have a modern equivalent? If so, it is perhaps George W Bush, whose unwavering commitment to the war on terror has led to a very high disapproval rating. Bush will be remembered for his responses to 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq, but since neither of those conflicts has yet ended in victory or defeat, it is too early to assume - as left-wingers, anti-war campaigners and many media commentators have - that his historical reputation will be forever low, as is Harding’s.

Historians may one day view Bush's decision to insist upon a "surge" of reinforcements for Iraq in conjunction with a comprehensive transformation of anti-insurgency tactics as masterminded by General Petraeus, as a pivotal point in the history of the war on terror. Just perhaps, in a mere decade or two the President’s judgment and decisiveness may be compared with some of the great decisions of 1945–52, as taken by Truman.

Once again, I urge my readers to view the trailer ...


August 3, 2008

Kissinger and McCain on Iraq and the wider War on Terror

"... he (Kissinger) correctly sees America as the “the indispensable component of any attempt to build a new world order."

"... he (McCain) referred to Islamic extremism as “the central threat of our time, and we must understand the implications our decisions on all manner of regional and global challenges could have for our success in defeating it.”...

According to Henry Kissinger, an advisor to McCain, the situation in Iraq has changed that much, the political debate (John McCain vs. Barack Obama) about this topic is practically, superfluous.

“Almost all objective observers agree that major progress has been made on all three fronts of the Iraq war: Al-Qaeda, the Sunni jihadist force recruited largely from outside the country, seems on the run in Iraq; the indigenous Sunni insurrection attempting to restore Sunni predominance has largely died down; and the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad has, at least temporarily, mastered the Shiite militias that were challenging its authority. After years of disappointment, we face the need to shift gears mentally to consider emerging prospects of success.”

Obama in particular, is using ‘premises that have been overtaken by events,’ and, in light of the Afghan troop increase question, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says that a withdrawal from Iraq is not necessary to free forces for the Afghanistan battlefield.

“The inherent contradictions of the proposed withdrawal schedule compound the difficulties. Under the fixed withdrawal scheme, combat troops are to be withdrawn, but sufficient forces would remain to protect the U.S. Embassy, fight a resumption of al-Qaeda, and contribute to defense against outside intervention. But such tasks require combat, not support, forces, and the foreseeable controversy about the elusive distinction will distract from the overall diplomatic goal. Nor is withdrawal from Iraq necessary to free forces for operations in Afghanistan. There is no need to risk the effort in Iraq to send two or three additional brigades to Afghanistan; those troops will become available even in the absence of a deadline.”

Indeed the iconic conservative, Kissinger is one who cannot but help solicit the attention of the White House and this need not be viewed as bad. Last year, against a substantial backdrop of opposition opinion, he staunchly defended the Iraqi troop surge where he wrote of Bush’s judgment, a “bold decision to order a 'surge' of some 20,000 American troops for Iraq has brought the debate over the war to a defining stage. There will not be opportunity for another reassessment." He was right!

Critics of the Iraq war fail to realize the conflicts place within the larger struggle, what Kissinger refers to as, “the assault on the international order conducted by radical groups in both Islamic sects," of which America and its way of life is at the heart. Accordingly, he correctly sees America as the “the indispensable component of any attempt to build a new world order."

Read Kissinger’s whole piece at either, The Washington Post or Real Clear Politics site.

John McCain’s other foreign policy advisers include Richard Armitage, William Kristol and Robert Kagan, whom, at least last time I checked, was listed as one the leading advisers. The latter are also firmly grounded within the neoconservative clique however, and before anybody winces, (not that I expect the likes of Salon’s Greenwald nosing around American Interests) I remain convinced that McCain’s take on neo-conservatism is a morally just result of his personal experiences; experiences that have framed a worldly conception of what is good, and led to an unwavering understanding of what is worth defending even with force of arms, if necessary.

Earlier in the year, he referred to Islamic extremism as “the central threat of our time, and we must understand the implications our decisions on all manner of regional and global challenges could have for our success in defeating it.” In the context of this challenge and the wider war on terror, it is not hard to see the likely direction foreign policy will take in a McCain administration.

Back to the featured article, the elder Kissinger sees no rush to finalize, restrict or confine the U.S. to a set course of action that in fact, would bring about more harm, than good.

“The next president has a great opportunity to stabilize Iraq and lay the basis for a decisive turn in the war against jihadist radicalism and for a more peaceful Middle East. Surely, he will want to assess the situation on the ground before setting a strategy for his term. He should not be limited by rigid prescriptions to vindicate maxims of the past, no matter how plausible they once seemed. Withdrawal is a means; the end is a more peaceful and hopeful world.” I believe he is right here too!

July 12, 2008

Iraq: Troop withdrawal plans flawed

"Obama is beginning to flop and its going to drive the Liberals crazy"...

In the first place I urge readers to watch this, I was unable to successfully embed the video so check out "Obama's Iraq Withdrawal Plan" clip.

Last week, there was a small dustup when Barack Obama said at a press conference in North Dakota that he would "refine" his Iraq policy after meeting with commanders on the ground later this month. That same afternoon, Obama called another press conference to reiterate that his position in Iraq had not changed: "My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in and I will give them a new mission and that is to end this war – responsibly, deliberately, but decisively."

Obama has always said he will rely on the judgment of commanders on the ground in Iraq before he implements his 16-month withdrawal timetable. As you noticed on the clip, Martha Raddatz of ABC News reports that some commanders on the ground are skeptical of Obama's plan.

Here's what it says on Obama's website:

Bringing our troops home
"Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda."

As Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Baghdad area, indicated, any withdrawal of troops need to be conditions based.

Obama is beginning to flop and its going to drive the Liberals crazy. Stay tuned, for as we draw closer to November he will be converted to the "outcomes based" strategy.

The Democratic candidates troop withdrawal strategy is not plausible. Politics aside NOT in Americas Interests, nor the worlds.

March 1, 2008

Iran: The penultimate step is now within sight

... "Knowledge, insight and extrapolations of realism have reasoned that the future brings risk; the theocrats aspire to dominance within the entire Muslim world. The penultimate step is now within sight, an action that will deliver empire underpinned as it will be, by nuclear hardware, a pursuit that remains non-negotiable my friends..."

After much deception and accommodationist negotiations that amounted to failed diplomacy, Iran officially went nuclear in 2012. On the 4th day of November 2014, Obama, Clinton or McCain are midway through their second term of presidency, “an Iranian missile is fired from a barge in international waters, and detonates over Kansas at 300 miles altitude. The resulting EMP burns circuits in America's electric and communication networks. Within milliseconds, at least 70 percent of America's twin electrical infrastructures are destroyed. America is plunged instantaneously into the year 1875. Recovery takes many months, perhaps more than a year. Thousands of lives are lost, but not instantaneously. Trillions of dollars in market value disappear. Iran threatens to destroy 5 Arab and 5 European capitals if the US retaliates...”

Continuing on the topic of one of this blogs stated goals; “intended to … highlight threats to”, I once again draw attention to Iran, a nation whose leadership and the ideology it champions, poses a danger of a magnitude at least as great as the potential threat that was the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war. Granted that the former only possesses but a minute fraction of the latter’s firepower, but America was always ready for Stalin, Malenkov, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, and finally Gorbachev. I fear is that she may not be ready for Ahmadinejad.

John C. Wohlstetter offers a provocative and disturbing scenario in a recent Frontpage interview discussing his new book, “The long war ahead and the short war upon us". Thoroughly examined is America's war on terror from two equally important standpoints. The Long War refers to the uncivilized merciless enemies who have little regard for life and place and seek to make use of use modern technologies for wiping out our societies. The Short War describes Washington’s race to deter a Weapons of Mass Destruction cataclysm.

The thrust of his argument is that while the longer war is winnable, made possible by the short sightedness and imperfections of radical Islam, the short war may be lost unless there is a major shift in domestic priorities including human and material resource investment. In his own words, the long war is, “a war against militant Islamofascist ideology in its several forms, one that it likely at minimum several decades in duration. It is a civilizational war of survival, but not Professor Huntington's famous "clash of civilizations," because our enemies stand only for death and destruction, while all civilizations, including the great Islamic ones, celebrate life and creation. It is, simply put, a war of survival between imperfect civilization and perfect barbarism. The Short War is a war of prevention, aimed at reducing to the smallest possible chance a successful WMD attack on American soil, or the soil of our allies.”

The Bush administration will claim that much has been achieved in securing homeland security since 9/11; indeed much has, but painfully more needs to be done, here Wohlstetter offers some suggestions:

“Impose severe, broad economic sanctions on Iran, going outside the UN, where Russia and China will veto any strong sanctions, and engage with Iran's human rights movements; condition suspension of sanctions on Iran's verifiably ending uranium enrichment. Strongly support human rights groups in any event (as we did vis-à-vis the USSR during the Cold War).”

“Broadly engage as many factions inside Pakistan as possible, so that America is not hostage to the fortunes of one party or leader; intensify Predator patrols over Waziristan, with delegated decision authority to take out senior al-Qaeda figures on sight or shortly after a sighting.”

“Significantly accelerate and expand defense spending across the board, increasing greatly both military manpower and modern equipment.”

“Accelerate missile defense deployment and take measures to secure our military and commercial satellites, and accelerate hardening of infrastructures against terrorist attacks”.

“Step up a non-apologetic public diplomacy that denies our adversaries free access to our media to propagandize, and covertly subsidizes moderate media organizations and leaders abroad (as we did during the Cold War).”

Read the whole piece here

Knowledge, insight and extrapolations of realism have reasoned that the future brings risk; the theocrats aspire to dominance within the entire Muslim world. The penultimate step is now within sight, an action that will deliver empire underpinned as it will be, by nuclear hardware, a pursuit that remains non-negotiable my friends.

Who does not abhor the surprise that was Pearl Harbour or shocks of the 9/11 variety? Events that bring that bring to mind that devastating feeling, the one that prompts the question, “How could this have happened”?

Thus foolish is the one who dismisses such reckoning dismissing it as none more, than the words of an attention seeking doomsayer. For the sake of its own, Washington must not refrain from re-visiting a “muscular unilateralist” position if events call for it. Least not, the world outside will provide a reason for it. My fear is that until external events validate that current policies are inadequate, there will exist little counterpoise within political circles to act.

See also: Iran's Nuclear Lunge for Power

Over to you

Photo credit: msnbc Feb. 26, 2008: TEHRAN, Iran - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that the research rocket Iran recently launched was built in just nine months without using any foreign models. Iran's launch of a rocket in early February provoked unease in an international community already suspicious over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program since the technology involved can also be used to deliver warheads.

February 26, 2008

Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SAS): Strengthening the Alliance

"When the U.S. decided to take action against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Canberra’s response was to send in the cream of Australia’s military, the SAS. Modeled on the British SAS and feared by potential enemies, little was known of Australia’s Special Forces, the Australian Government has been secretive of there operations..."

For nearly 100 years, Australia has committed its armed services in every major conflict fought by the United States. Its foreign policy makers and its people have mostly accepted that the U.S. is a force for good; a force that historically we have wanted to be associated with. Beginning in 1908 when Australian Prime Minister Alfred Deakin successfully invited Teddy Roosevelt to send his fleet to visit our shores through to the fighting in WW1. From when John Curtin turned our military operations over to U.S. General Douglas Macarthur during WWII, through to Vietnam and presently, Afghanistan and Iraq - some 50,000 Australians, including ground troops and air force and navy personnel, served in Vietnam.

Under the Anzus Treaty, Americans are committed to respond to an attack on Australia and vice versa. Following 9/11, the Howard Government invoked Anzus under clause iv which states,

“Each party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific area on any of the parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.”
It is interesting that the attacks in NYC, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania were outside the Pacific forum however, the wording of Anzus made little difference, there was universal intent for the two allies to assist each other. Hence, Anzus which begun as a regional pact has evolved to a global one.

When the U.S. decided to take action against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Canberra’s response was to send in the cream of Australia’s military, the SAS. Modeled on the British SAS and feared by potential enemies, little was known of Australia’s Special Forces, the Australian Government has been secretive of there operations, the personal and intensive training methods; something that proved valuable in operations.

In relation to matters technology and skill levels, the U.S. views many of its allies as being somewhat backward, the exception being the U.K thus for Australia, the Afghanistan operation, known as Anaconda provided an opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of its own special forces, which were up to worlds best practice, highest state of readiness, in possession of there own equipment and superbly trained. Anaconda proved just how enormously capable the Australian SAS is, and represented another defining moment in the history of the U.S. – Australia alliance; in that single operation the SAS saved the U.S. a significant loss of troops. Former U.S. Secretary of State and Special Forces officer himself, Richard Armitage and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, also a decorated former soldier noted that the regiment is as good as any such formations the world, said Armitage,

“The Australian SAS are shit-hot and our people love to work with them.”
Added Lieutenant-General Frank Hagenbeck in a television interview “The Australian SAS are shit-hot and our people love to work with them.” Added Lieutenant-General Frank Hagenbeck in a television interview,
The Australian SAS displayed those kinds of things that make them elite, in my view, of small-unit infantrymen throughout the world … that’s autonomy, independence, tenacity that they will never be defeated.”
The Australian SAS is a somewhat diverse soldier to that of a U.S. Special Forces unit member. Being trained for a more traditional role of patrol and long-range reconnaissance with an emphasis on independence and endurance together with core tasks including recovery, counterterrorism, and offensive operations making them highly capable when infiltrating behind enemy lines and/or to undertake covert operations for extended periods. The typical Australian SAS is a leaner mass than his American equal and is trained to endure on little for very long periods. The other notable difference relates to technology. Whilst the Australians both possess and value both Hi-tech tools and support systems, the focus is more so on the soldier, not the gear – as we shall see, this factor weighed heavily during Anaconda. It is not suggested that this makes them better, just different.

The operation took place in February 2002 and involved some two-thousand coalition soldiers. It was designed to crush the enemy, (in this case Taliban elements and al-Qaeda fighters) between converging coalition forces in Shahikot Valley. At one stage, it went horribly wrong, in order to illustrate the role of the SAS, the following description represents the basic sum and substance of the operation.

From the onset the enemy area was pounded from the air by U.S. jets, but unknown to coalition forces at the time, this proved largely ineffective due to the many tunnels and caves for the fighters to shelter in. When U.S. helicopter borne troops arrived there was some intense skirmishes, those not killed would escape through the many tracks leading to where Australian troops were waiting. The Afghan vehicles broke down and a convoy became separated, soon the enemy, being more capable and larger than expected attacked hard. A U.S. helicopter sent in to assist had to back off due to intense enemy fire and in doing so; a U.S. soldier fell from it and was immediately shot. More U.S. helicopters arrived on the scene but two were shot down resulting in the deaths of six troops and dozens wounded. A rescue mission was called off as 36 U.S. soldiers found themselves isolated, surrounded and under attack by a powerful Taliban force that greatly outnumbered them. It would not be till nightfall that a new rescue mission would be mounted.

This is where the Australian SAS mission became critical. High in the mountains above, in extremely harsh environmental conditions; conditions that we humans are not supposed to survive in, with frozen water bottles and suffering altitude sickness, the SAS patrols had entrenched themselves long before to gain an overview of the battle. With there instrumentation they could not only see the Americans in the valley, but also the enemy, who were now quickly advancing in for the kill. From there mountaintop hideaway the SAS team reported a looming disaster to the coalition command tent. Fortunately, throughout the many hours that followed the SAS called in very precise and successful American air strikes to engage the enemy thus frustrating their attempts to approach the trapped U.S. soldiers.

The operation demonstrated that technology had limitations, the hostile conditions made it difficult for U.S. spy planes to see the enemy sufficiently well to guide the bombers and the dense fog in the Shah-i-Kot valley rendered the Predator surveillance drones ineffective. That meant an SAS observation team was to play a crucial role in saving a platoon of US Rangers. The incredibly fit and highly trained SAS unit did a remarkable job, accurately directing U.S. firepower and in doing so, a human tragedy was averted.

Indeed, there were other very significant contributions. At the onset of the Iraqi invasion, with there speed, weaponry, mobility, they swept across the desert, identifying targets for the Americans and destroying Saddam’s command and control structure. Significantly, they seized the huge Al Asad airfield, the second largest airbase in Iraq and with it discovered and grounded Fifty-five Soviet built Migs and seized eight million kilogram of explosives. President Bush expressed gratitude to our leaders, as it was learned that the SAS removed the threat of Iraqi strikes on Israel having also knocked out Scud missile launchers in the desert. It is perhaps to this that former Israeli Prime minister Ehud Barak referred to when commenting on the Australian SAS’s successes.

The remarkable feats may have also influenced U.S. defense policy in relation to their own special forces. Said Greg Sheridan,
“The decision announced in the 2006 U.S. Quadrennial Defense Review to vastly increase U.S. Special Forces almost certainly owes something to the example of the Australians, for whom the Americans come to have the highest regard. In terms of the alliance, Iraq drew the Australian and U.S. militaries very much closer together.”
The SAS involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has fundamentally altered the relationship between the two militaries; today American commanders give the Australian contingent great operational priority. As U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General James Mattis wrote,
“We Marines would happily storm hell itself with your troops on our right flank.”
Finally, for those who see the praise as nothing short of apple-polishing, let’s envision the following act. Once again, Greg Sheridan:
“It’s a peaceful image from Afghanistan just after Anaconda. The battle is over … the dead are being mourned. A large group of U.S. soldiers is lined up at the mess for food. It’s a fairly sound rule in life not to get between a soldier and his food but this day some very strange happens. A few Australian SAS men arrive and join the food queue. Suddenly the marines recognize them and the food line breaks up, the Australians are applauded and ushered to the front of the food queue to be served first. In its way, this is as eloquent a testimony as ever you could find.”
The total current Australian commitment in Afghanistan is approximately 1000 personnel.

Reference: Sheridan Greg. 2006, 'The Partnership: The inside story of the U.S.-Australian Alliance under Bush and Howard', University of NSW Press Ltd, Sydney, pp. 40-56

Feel free to comment

January 6, 2008

Glorious Guardians of Freedom

"Granted, this site will eventually vanish, being ephemeral in a very real sense of the word, but at least for a time it can serve as a tiny record of my contributions to the world."

Occasionally one comes across those kinds of posts that leave one in awe at the bravery, dedication and out-and-out allegiance of those willing to sacrifice all to defend our freedoms, our way of life. Truly amazing young men and woman serving America’s, and indeed the world’s interests in far away terrains.

One such post about a certain Maj. Andrew J. Olmsted, 37, of Colorado Springs, Colo. who sadly along with Cpt. Thomas J. Casey, 32, of Albuquerque, N.M. “died Jan. 3 in, As Sadiyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit using small arms fire during combat operations. Both Soldiers were assigned to the Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.”

Major Andrew J Olmsted had a blog and on it, left us an, 'in case of my death post' – like Flag Gazer, I draw your attention to this amazing young man and post:

“I suppose I should speak to the circumstances of my death. It would be nice to believe that I died leading men in battle, preferably saving their lives at the cost of my own. More likely I was caught by a marksman or an IED. But if there is an afterlife, I'm telling anyone who asks that I went down surrounded by hundreds of insurgents defending a village composed solely of innocent women and children. It'll be our little secret, ok?”

“…while you're free to think whatever you like about my life and death, if you think I wasted my life, I'll tell you you're wrong. We're all going to die of something. I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was.”

"I write this in part, admittedly, because I would like to think that there's at least a little something out there to remember me by. Granted, this site will eventually vanish, being ephemeral in a very real sense of the word, but at least for a time it can serve as a tiny record of my contributions to the world."

Read the whole post here

They are now walking with the master, God bless them and their families…

Comments appreciated…

November 4, 2007

Iraq: Mission Largely Accomplished

Unexpectedly comes an article set to provoke the anti-war pundits no end. Andrew Bolt, in writing for the Australian Daily Telegraph has come out boldly to declare that, ‘The war in Iraq has been won.

In easy read no-nonsense terms, Andrew, simply presents the evidence that’s points to an impending formal victory and justifies American involvement in the first place.

Lord knows why the Howard Government (and Republican/Administration interests in the U.S.) remains timid and hence refrain from seizing the moment. Indeed, Iraq is far removed from opposition assertions that it remains the ‘greatest … national security policy disaster that our country has seen since Vietnam’.

In light of this, (and many similar reports) Mr Rudd and hordes of anti-war, anti-America crusaders will run for cover or offer and endless, now hackneyed barrage of claptrap that demonstrates how little they know about Iraq, past and present.

Michael Yon also reports from his latest tour in Iraq that al Qaeda is indeed defeated:

“Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated,” according to Sheik Omar Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party and a member of the widespread and influential Jabouri Tribe. Speaking through an interpreter at a 31 October meeting at the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters in downtown Baghdad, Sheik Omar said that al Qaeda had been “defeated mentally, and therefore is defeated physically,” referring to how clear it has become that the terrorist group’s tactics have backfired. Operatives who could once disappear back into the crowd after committing an increasingly atrocious attack no longer find safe haven among the Iraqis who live in the southern part of Baghdad. They are being hunted down and killed. Or, if they are lucky, captured by Americans.

And Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno draws some pictures for those who can’t believe Iraq really has survived the worst:

As much as I am tempted to quote from the piece it is much preferred that you click on, The war in Iraq has been won, and read the words of one who sees Iraq as I do.

See also Donald Douglas’s take on this at, American Power.

Feel free to comment ...

October 25, 2007

Are America’s foremost European Allies letting her down?

... the surge is in fact, buying sufficient time for political processes to gain some momentum regrettably however, America's foremost allies are retreating just when needed most.

Over a month has passed since the Petraeus report and the news keeps getting better. A recent editorial in the Washington Post is in step with many similar reports coming out of Iraq:

"In September, Iraqi civilian deaths were down 52 percent from August and 77 percent from September 2006, according to the Web site The Iraqi Health Ministry and the Associated Press reported similar results. U.S. soldiers killed in action numbered 43 -- down 43 percent from August and 64 percent from May, which had the highest monthly figure so far this year. The American combat death total was the lowest since July 2006 and was one of the five lowest monthly counts since the insurgency in Iraq took off in April 2004."

In further evidence, “Baghdad's economy is thriving as businesses that have been in the family for generations are back on the streets operating”.

However, just when the United States is making real progress in Iraq, the U.K. is retreating. One would logically ask why especially given that the situation in Basra is far for stabilized. Iranian backed militias continue to swell in numbers and with the Brits leaving; the U.S. may have to send thousands of troops to fill the void. The alternative would be an unguarded Iraq-Iran border, no protection of routes leading from Kuwait to Baghdad and Shiite militias battling each other for control of the south and its riches.

It is clear that Gordon Brown’s retreat has little to do with military strategy rather a reflection of a politically motivated objective that ultimately undermines coalition efforts in Iraq. A point highlighted by former Prime Minister Sir John Major, "What is pretty unattractive is the nods, the winks, the hints, the cynicism, the belief that every decision is being taken because it is marching to the drumbeat of an election”. Added Shadow Defense Secretary Liam Fox in the same article, Mr. Brown is treating the troops as "a political football".

Meanwhile French leader Nicholas Sarkozy aspires to a world order in which France occupies a stronger position, he plans to restore France's place and stature in NATO structures and, simultaneously, to promote autonomous defense in addition to promoting better dynamics of inter-European and European-American coordination in combating terrorism. However, although Sarkozy’s France is politically more accommodating of U.S. strategy, they are incapable of replacing the British for at least two reasons. French troops lack combat experience and force projection familiarity. In Afghanistan, the French have barely fired a shot and apart from some experience in minor colonial conflicts in Africa, they lack the battle hardness of the British. Secondly, the French public may be generally supportive of their leader but do not share his zeal for the U.S. and in particular, its foreign policy.

It would have been more intelligent to keep British soldiers in place for at until one of the principle reasons for the surge is fulfilled, to buy time for greater political stability. In spite of the surge success, the latter remains a key challenge for the United States. As the aforementioned Washington Post piece concludes, not all the good news indicates that the war is being won, “U.S. military commanders have said that no reduction in violence will be sustainable unless Iraqis reach political solutions”. On a good note, the surge is in fact, buying sufficient time for political processes to gain some momentum regrettably however, America's foremost allies are retreating just when needed most.

Your comments are most welcome ...

October 18, 2007

History Dictates - An early exit is not an option

The comparison serves, as a useful aide memoire of what will, not may happen, if we exit this war hastily ... thus allowing the Islamofacists to unleash ...

Dr. Earl Tilford, a Professor of History at Grove City College and former director of research at the U.S. Army's Strategic Studies Institute, has posted an excellent piece at FrontPage Magazine. His conclusions should serve as useful fodder for policy-makers and politicians alike - and not just in Washington - as they grabble with Iraq and the war on terror.

Have the true ramifications of an early departure been considered let alone scrutinized? Leaving Iraq prior to establishing security and a central government would prove disastrous.

Tilford recalls the last years of Vietnam and the consequences of America’s exit for the local population.

“Enormous numbers of South Vietnamese who fought for the Saigon government and who supported U.S. policy were left behind to face the harsh “justice” of the victorious communists. In Cambodia and Laos, major blood baths took place. The Cambodian Khmer Rough systematically annihilated anyone associated with the Phnom Penh government along with an entire class of educated people. Millions were murdered. In Laos, the Pathet Lao, under the control of the North Vietnamese, imprisoned and murdered the Lao royal family along with hundreds of officials of the Vientiane government. The North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao conducted a genocidal campaign against the Hmong, a tribal people who, with U.S. support, fought valiantly for their homes in the mountains surrounding the Plain of Jars” .

“In early 1975, as the communists initiated their final offensives in South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, the American left remained riveted on the supposed ravages of war wreaked on Indochina by U.S. military forces. A continuous cacophony bellowed about “secret bombings” and lamented an “eco-disaster” issuing from a supposed “bathing of South Vietnam” in Agent Orange. In the aftermath, the left’s silence over the murderous aftermath undertaken by the communist Vietnamese and their cohorts in Cambodia and Laos was pervasive”.

“The lessons for today are clear. First, any precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be costly even if it were possible, which it isn’t. Second, the sectarian violence that follows, being religiously and ethnically-driven, will be far bloodier than what happened in South Vietnam, more resembling the ethnic and class-cleansing carried out by the Khmer Rouge and Pathet Lao. Third, in Indochina there was no regional power ready or able to fill the void left by America—China tried in 1979 and the Vietnamese army trounced its invasion forces. Iran, by contrast, is anxious to dominate Iraq, seize its oil, and then exercise hegemony over the Persian Gulf region”.

The comparison serves, as a useful aide memoire of what will, not may happen, if we exit this war hastily. To whatever degree citizen’s abroad resent the U.S. at the present, it would pale in comparison to how America would be seen if it exited prematurely thus allowing the Islamofacists to unleash terror on the population. In Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia there were blood baths resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, some say millions.

Winning this war is vital for both America and Western interests alike.

Comments always appreciated...

Featured Blog Posts deemed pertinent to American Interests:

Rules of Cyberwar at Baudrillard's Bastard

October 14, 2007

Australia: An Election looms

… the real reason for this post is to consider the impact a change of Government (in Australia) may have on the relationship with Washington …

As I write these words, it is broadly anticipated that within hours Prime Minister John Howard will name an election date signaling the beginning of a six-week campaign with polling day on November 24.

If the surveys are correct the Government is heading for an annihilation of sorts come Election Day, in the latest Taverner poll Labor's substantial lead is showing no sign of retreating.

But as I commented on another blog:

“I tend to agree that voters will, come the moment, reject the untested waters of the Kevin Rudd / Julia Gillard (she’s a moonbat) experiment. We would be more at ease however, if the polls were a tad closer".

Something is amiss here; the two party differences in the polls are somewhat perplexing, surely the Howard Governments outstanding record stands for something more.

However, the real reason for this post is to consider the impact a change of Government in Australia may have on the relationship with Washington. The sense of expectation around Australia is that a Labor Prime Minister would suddenly signal a new change in foreign policy particularly so in relation to Iraq and the cozy relationship with George W. Bush.

Some Aussies may be in for a shock! If there is to be a change in Government once elected, the new Prime Minister will start sounding much like present leader John Howard, our relationship with the U.S. runs too deep.

As Vice President, Dick Cheney said during a visit to our shores in February 2007:

…”We think of a country that shares our founding commitments to liberty and to equality, and to our traditions of justice and tolerance. We think, above all, of the character of the Australian people -- self-reliant, practical, and good-hearted … President Ronald Reagan stated the case very well. He said, Australia and America "see the world from similar perspectives, though no two countries could be more opposite on the ends of the globe... we were born in the same era, sprang from the same stock, and live for the same ideals. Australia and America share an affinity that reaches to our souls ... over time, that deep affinity has grown into a great alliance" …

For those that doubt, it was Kevin Rudd not John Howard who said, “America is an overwhelming force for good in the world” in a not so publicized speech at the “Australian American Leadership Dialogue Dinner” recently.

“For the 21st century to be a truly pacific century, a truly peaceful one, it must still have an international rules-based order. It was important for the century just gone, and will be just as important for the century just unfolding. And you cannot deliver a rules-based order in the absence of the underlying ballast of US global strategic power. Carefully husbanded, selectively deployed _ without that a rules-based order ultimately withers".

Kevin Rudd added,

"America today, moreover, should not disengage from the world post-Iraq and I say that as someone who has been for almost five years a continuing and consistent opponent of the war in Iraq. But I say that despite Iraq, the world needs America. I say that despite Iraq, America is an overwhelming force for good in the world. It is time we sang that from the world’s rooftops”.

Click here to read the full text of the speech.

The speech was more than purely an effort to appear virtuous, there will not be any fundamental foreign policy switch given a labor victory.

Finally, for those wondering, this blog was only meant to be apolitical in relation to U.S. politics.

Comments always welcome

September 17, 2007

Time moved on

“Politically neutral blog … to disseminate knowledge of, highlight threats to, explore opportunities for … serve as a platform of …” recognize the words? Ladies and gentleman a dilemma ensues, for how is it tenable to post about that left wing, self-serving, U.S. public policy body within the columns of a purportedly politically neutral platform? More exactly, can we divorce this organisation from Democratic Party1 politics? The short answer is no. Yet, by virtue of its production, and however incongruous this may seem, this post is aimed squarely at the shameful antics of an organization which, through its recent New York Times ad, questioned whether it was General Petraeus or General betray us! To suggest that the exploit, was morally and politically outrageous is a glaring understatement for it was tantamount to accusing a decorated 4-star veteran and, in some way, a leader within a great nation state, of treason.

How disappointing for anti war interests, that Petraeus cast doubt on the notion that Iraq was lost, that security and stability was “in large measure”, being addressed, that Iran was cited as a serious threat to stability through its support of Shiite Militias, insurgent groups and Hezbollah; the anti war side incessantly claim that the Iran connection is a myth. Even though and rather astutely, the Generals bottom line was considered and evenhanded citing that “innumerable challenges lie ahead’ and that “violence of an ethnic and sectarian nature remains “troubling”. For those interested, the complete address can be viewed here: Iraq commander Petraeus report to Congress.

For the most part, however this post is not about the report itself, nor is it meant to attack elements of American affairs of state and politics. In my previous post, I alluded to goings-on within the U.S. that detract from the nation’s neglected pursuit of international respect being “in part, proportional to America’s own respect for its leaders”. Would I be incorrect to suggest that an Army General in charge of the entire Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I), and oversees all U.S. forces in the Iraq, be deemed a leader of sorts? The disparaging attack on the General does not merely discredit the organisation, but the entire nation, at a time when America can ill afford it. MoveOn peddles in hatred and lies, these are not the American qualities we have come to admire and whilst the obvious discussion point has been, “did the ad help the pro-war or anti-war side? I would ask how does it serve America in the context of international respect?

1. This is the organisation responsible for raising millions for Democratic candidates and formed with the purpose of getting the nation to move on following the Lewinsky affair and Clinton impeachment process.

Comments always appreciated...

August 11, 2007

News Round

Weekly News deemed pertinent to American Interests

Troop levels in Iraq at all time high

The number of US troops in Iraq has rose to nearly 162,000, a new high in four years old, according to the Pentagon. The previous high for U.S. forces was during January 2005, when the force level hit 161,000. At the time, U.S. generals in Baghdad had arranged for a brief increase in forces to coincide with Iraqi elections. The US buildup, which began in February and peaked in June, added five combat brigades and other support units to the US ground force in Iraq after an Iraqi-led operation failed to secure Baghdad.

Links: U.S. forces in Iraq reach new peak

Pentagon loses 190,000 thousand guns in Iraq

The Pentagon cannot account for 190,000 AK-47 rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005, or about half the weapons earmarked for soldiers and police, according to a government report. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of the US Congress, said in a July 31 report to lawmakers that the Defence Department also cannot account for 135,000 items of body armour and 115,000 helmets reported to be issued to Iraqi forces as of September 22, 2005.

Links: U.S. loses track of weapons , 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols - poof

The danger that is Pakistan

U.S. military intelligence officials are urgently assessing how secure Pakistan's nuclear weapons would be in the event President Gen. Pervez Musharraf were replaced as the nation's leader.

Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, was on the brink of declaring a state of emergency in his increasingly volatile country but backed away after a gathering storm of media, political and diplomatic pressure. In what highlights the concern raised by recent events in the country Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned General Musharraf about 2 a.m. Thursday according to the State Department however officials refused to discuss in public what was said. The conversation lasted about 15 minutes.

Links: U.S. assessing Pakistan nukes , Bush urges fair Pakistan election , State of emergency in Pakistan , Pakistan spells danger

U.S., Japan Sign Agreement on Intelligence After Leak

Japan and the U.S. signed an agreement to protect military intelligence and help prevent a recurrence of the leak of classified information on Aegis destroyers by the Japanese navy earlier this year. The agreement between the two allies follows the revelation of a series of Japan's embarrassing leaks of sensitive information including confidential data on the US-developed high-tech Aegis combat system. Under the agreement, both governments will restrict the personnel allowed to access secret military information provided by each other.

In a related matter Japan has also been testing opinions in Washington on the possibility of purchasing the latest stealth F-22, but Congress has repeatedly banned the sale or license of the "Raptor'' to foreign governments, largely to safeguard its advanced technology.

Links: U.S., Japan sign deal on , U.S., Japan inc defense information pact

July 20, 2007

Picture power

Don't let this happen !

See also:

Iraq image source: Time Magazine

July 15, 2007

Of strategies means and devices

It is often touted that the Bush Administration did not have a strategy for victory in place following the end of military hostilities in Iraq. In reality, this was not the case. According to a document released by President Bush in November 2005 entitled “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq”, “victory” has short term, medium term, and long-term definitions.

In fact, as one can see from the longer-term goal, the bar was raised so high that the administration almost set itself up for failure.

What has been missing all along is the micro details, the "how to' if you will. Understandably, any strategic and tactical plans as required to achieve such a plan would be nigh impossible to formulate with any accuracy in advance. Given the complexity of the Iraqi political and cultural landscape it would seem plausible to expect a continuously evolving plan which was always going to test the patience of an electorate, its leaders and particularly opponents of the war.

For all the talk about how hopelessly entrenched the U.S. is becoming in Iraq its no Vietnam, not in a numbers sense. The recent surge has lifted the number of U.S. personal to some 160,000. By 1966 there were 375,000 Americans in Vietnam and by 1968 there were half a million!



Helping the Iraqi People Defeat the Terrorists and Build an Inclusive Democratic State


As the central front in the global war on terror, success in Iraq is an essential element in the long war against the ideology that breeds international terrorism. Unlike past wars, however, victory in Iraq will not come in the form of an enemy's surrender, or be signaled by a single particular event -- there will be no Battleship Missouri, no Appomattox. The ultimate victory will be achieved in stages, and we expect:

In the short term
An Iraq that is making steady progress in fighting terrorists and neutralizing the insurgency, meeting political milestones; building democratic institutions; standing up robust security forces to gather intelligence, destroy terrorist networks, and maintain security; and tackling key economic reforms to lay the foundation for a sound economy.

In the medium term
An Iraq that is in the lead defeating terrorists and insurgents and providing its own security, with a constitutional, elected government in place, providing an inspiring example to reformers in the region, and well on its way to achieving its economic potential.

In the longer term
An Iraq that has defeated the terrorists and neutralized the insurgency. An Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country. An Iraq that is a partner in the global war on terror and the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, integrated into the international community, an engine for regional economic growth, and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region.


The entire document can be viewed at:

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Obsequious democracy runs contrary to national interests

DEMOCRACY, Winston Churchill famously observed, is the worst form of government ever devised - except for all the others. Well, he was right about the first part.

In the US these days, democracy is living down to its reputation, producing sticking-plaster solutions to epochal challenges, indulging the worst populist instincts of its voters, throwing up demagogic leaders unworthy of the job and rejecting those of true courage.

The most depressing spectacle is unfolding over Iraq. Washington has reached the stage where vital national interests -- and the security of much of the world -- are being decided almost entirely by immediate, panicky political considerations.

Americans want their troops home. It's a wholly understandable sentiment. But it is one that needs to be resisted, not massaged and nurtured, as members of Congress from both parties have been doing.


Source: The Australian

Winston Churchill also said, “I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities he excites among his opponents” — this being true then George W. Bush may one day be the best President the U.S. ever had...

Everyone is anti-war or should be. Certainly I am against War, it would be great if humans did not have to die but that is war and many do die and suffer something that cannot be avoided. I guess that's why emotions seem to dictate important policy directions and influences of those opposed to the Bush strategy.

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July 11, 2007

Let the surge run its course

If we withdrew from Iraq this week...

  • What would happen to the U.S. image abroad? Better or worse?
  • What would happen to the people of Iraq, their Government, and their new democracy?
  • What impact would such a move have on the security of the region? Who would benefit? Who would feel the pain?
  • What impact would it have on terrorist movements across the World? Would the US, Europe and Australia be safer?
  • What would Iran and Syria do? Would Iran attempt to install an Islamic government?
  • Would Iraq fall into full civil war?
  • What would happen to the growing economies in the Northern (Kurdish) and Southern parts of Iraq?
  • What would happen to the oil? Would the Iraqi people benefit from it?
  • What do China and Russia do? Would they seek to exert strong regional influence? How would these two powerful nations act globally as a result?
  • What economic impact would it have on the U.S.? writes:

What unites the anti-war critics on both sides of the political isle is their refusal to confront two stubborn facts. The first and most obvious is that, notwithstanding the countless obituaries that have been written in its name, the surge has not yet been given a chance to work. The last of the troops involved in the plan have arrived only in recent weeks and military commanders have been adamant that it needs to be continued until next spring for the results to become clear. At the very least, it would seem reasonable for legislators to wait until September, when General David Petraeus is scheduled to deliver his assessment of the strategy, before rushing to politically calculated conclusions. Moving up the deadline for the review may please anti-war dogmatists, but there is no reason to think that it qualifies as a credible evaluation of the military’s efforts -- particularly since the first detailed overview of the situation on the ground by the U.S. military shows some notable, if admittedly modest, improvements in security.

The second and similarly unacknowledged point is that a premature withdrawal would almost certainly produce a national-security disaster. As Iraq's foreign minister warned this week, an early exit would likely lead to a failed state. Whether Western-style democratic government was ever feasible in Iraq’s tribal and aggressively sectarian culture is a subject worthy of debate, but it should not be difficult to see that abandoning the country to al-Qaeda and its allies ill-serves American interests.


There is nothing positive to be gained from an immediate or even phased departure from Iraq unless the job is finished. I do not care how loud the anti-Iraq war movement is and will become - from both the Left and the Right – we must stay the course at least until a solution is designed even if it eventually involves the U.N., Iran and Syria.

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June 16, 2007

Gates in Baghdad

Image taken on June 15 showing empty
streets in Iraqs Green Zone following a
curfew a day after the bombing of a
revered Shiite shrine in Samarra.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made an unannounced visit to Baghdad to assess a U.S. troop build-up and press Iraq's government to move faster in passing laws that Washington views as critical to reconciling Iraqis.

In a statement that clearly indicates that Washington is disappointed with Iraqi progress, Gates said to reporters, "Frankly, we're disappointed with the progress so far, and hope that this most recent bombing by Al-Qaeda won't further disrupt or delay the process".

The U.S. military said on Friday it had completed its troop build-up to 160,000 soldiers. Nearly 30,000 extra troops have been sent to Iraq, mainly to secure Baghdad and give the Shi'ite-led government time to reach a political accommodation with minority Sunni Arabs and Kurds.

In its latest report on Iraq published this week, the Pentagon said it was too soon to assess the military crackdown. While violence was down in Baghdad, the overall level was unchanged in Iraq because militants had simply moved their bases outside the capital, it said.

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