Friday, February 28, 2003
Paul Wolfowitz is challenging recently published estimates of the troop strength required to occupy Iraq (over 200,000) and the total cost for the operation ($65 - $90 billion, at least). It's always fun and exciting when those who've never fought in a war (Wolfowitz) go up against an organization that specializes in doing that. It's even more fun when these guys second-guess the pros, because it shows that the amatures really don't have a clue about what's going on. First off, despite all the rhetoric about the "unpredictability" of a war, there are methods for estimating (they don't call it an estimate for nothing... It's an educated guess, folks) the total cost of an operation. To say that it's impossible to do so is to negate decades of work by the military in coming up with costing proceedures. The military is a business, it has income and expenditures, and like any business it tries very hard to determine where its money goes and how much things are going to cost. It's o.k. to point out the nature of an estimate, i.e. that it's an educated guess, but it's simply not true that there's no way to know how much an operation is going to cost in terms of people and money. This smokescreen tactic is an attempt to deflate the negative impact of the larger estimates -- it's easy to see through it though because in the same article, after saying that it's impossible to estimate these sorts of things, Wolfowitz then gives the Pentagon estimate of what it would take to occupy Iraq (100,000 men and an unknown cost). Anyway, I prefer to trust the guys who do this all the time, and not a bunch of paper-pushers, when it comes to these estimates. It appears that the administration knows approximately how much a war is going to cost, but because of the bad economy they don't want to quote high numbers because it'd reduce the already weak support for war with Iraq.
Andrew 9:28 AM : |
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
I am not making this up, but yesterday morning on the Fox News Channel, Fox and Friends' co-anchor Brian Kilmeade, who not long ago was solely a sports anchor, took Janeane Garofalo to task for using her status as a celebrity to get airtime to advance her views of opposition to the war on terrorism. This show features Kilmeade and a former Miss Minnesota among its cast of hardboiled journalists that always give provocative in depth analysis of current events. Use that link to access the site and if you want to see any of the clips, I would suggest using my e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org with the password "hardboiled" to get in so they track me and not you. Pay particular note to the paranoia propaganda of unmanned drones spraying us with Iraqi anthrax which U.S. officials swear isn't a timed leak, it's hilarious.
Anyway, I bet Garofalo's Providence College degree matches Kilmeade's LIU sheepskin in scholarly qualification, but the point is that millions of American viewers are going to side with Kilmeade because he's obviously a news guy being on a news show and Janeane, well she's just a goofy cynical actress. I suppose any readers of this little weblog will know not to rely on television (yes, including cable) news outlets for reliable unslanted information -just in case you don't believe, me, ask Robert Fisk- but please let your friends and family know as well. Meanwhile, here's the link to Garofalo and company's virtual march on Washington. Please take time to sign up or call your senators and the white house today 02/26 anyway.
Bran 11:53 PM : |
The New Scientist has an article about a possible CIA radio station broadcasting into Iraq. The article also mentions the cellphone/email onslaught of messages warning Iraqi commanders not to use chemical or biological weapons against U.S. troops when (not if) they invade. The British and the U.S. are definitely stepping up the air campaign, attacking ground-to-ground missiles and generally breaking the no-fly-zone agreements by doing so. Meanwhile, it seems that publicly, the administration has pulled back a bit from pushing the timetable (although it's still very aggressive). My guess is that they'll try and do as much as they can under the table to weaken Iraq -- if the world won't approve of a full-scale invasion, then we'll pursue the war on a level that doesn't register and draw criticism. I would hope that people see through these efforts and realize that, for all intents and purposes, the war has already begun. A long history of covert wars during the Cold War points to a desire and ability, on the part of the U.S., to push "covert" military action as far as it can go. There are, however, operational problems with these low-level conflicts. As the visibility of the conflict increases, the goals change, and it can greatly complicate planning and deployment. Because most of the battles are not publicized, getting the truth can be difficult and there's a tendency for reporting from the field to be edited to make the situation sound rosier than it is, causing policy makers to miscalculate and to think they're playing a stronger hand than they really are. Enforcement of operational standards, whether it be rules about gathering intelligence, evaluation of potential allies, or ensuring that men and equipment are trained and deployed properly, falls by the wayside in favor of a "quick" victory. This reminds me that yesterday, Donald Rumsfeld requested that the new missile defense system be exempted from requirements for operational testing. This lowering of operational standards, along with all these other issues, weaken the U.S. military and decrease its effectiveness. In the end we end up with messy and poorly executed operations and the work of many dedicated and hard-working individuals gets nullified by the political motivations of a few people at the top.
Several of the Bush administration officials are hold-overs from Cold War administrations, such as Nixon, Ford, and Regan, that practiced this sort of ineffective and dangerous kind of war. Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and many others had positions that allowed them access to policy discussions which influenced American actions in Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and many other Cold War hotspots. I suspect that their current methodology of pursuing conflicts on whatever level they can get away with has its roots in those operations. The whole situatuation is a throwback to the days when the administration sqared off against professors, journalists, and other professionals who disagreed with their policies. We all know how those conflicts turned out -- I think they give us an idea of how some of our current military adventures may end, too.
Andrew 10:40 AM : |
Mark Goldblatt seems to give a thoughtful and somewhat more sympathetic rebuttal of antiwar protests than I have seen in conservative media of late, yet he uses many of the same points, and therefore I will use his article to respond to criticism.
1) Though it is true that antiwar protests are filled to capacity with the uniformed, so too are assembly halls and rallies of presidential support. Most of my colleagues and acquaintances opposed to military action are fully aware that this phase of the war on terrorism isn't about Iraqi oil. We are also less naive about Bush's stated objective. Saddam isn't an Islamic fundamentalist, he is a tyrant and a madman, his weapons of destruction are pointed first at Israel, then Iran, then dissidents within his own kingdom and then U.S. interests within the region. Chances of Iraqi weapons playing a role in an attack on US soil are and have been extremely thin. The purpose of this part of the war is purely for strategic geographic control and to trumpet further a "Don't Tread on Me" message to possible foes seeking to thwart the march of our corporate expansion.
My opposition therefore, stems not from some selfish idealism, but instead from genuine concern that instead of weakening fanatical extremists, we will awaken thousands more and that the cycle of war will never be abated by following this course of action. Goldblatt's article in fact shows just the beginning, first we have to attack Iraq, then Syria, then Iran and the Sudan, by then our troops are already stretched thin, Pakistan turns against itself, North Korea goes on the offensive and China decides it's high time Taiwan realized what "one China" is all about. At this point what do we do?
"Indeed, it is characteristic of liberals to avoid painful, long term solutions to difficult problems in favor of ill-conceived but humane-sounding stop gaps that make them feel good about themselves. Racial quotas are a legacy of the Left's craving for immediate gratification; so, too, is welfare dependency."
It seems characteristic of conservatives to avoid real solutions in favor of painful, long term problems that sound good on paper or in sound bites, but in real life do little but maintain the status quo. Economic stagnation and consistently high unemployment are the Right's rewards for their failure to change; so too, are a health care crisis and the abandonment of American markets by foreign investment.
2) In regards to racial favoritism in United States foreign policy, well, I don't believe that's the case. I think the administration favors wealthy, developed countries with populations likely to buy American corporate goods and services. If centuries of repression, conquest and colonialism have given almost all of the world's wealth to white Eurostock, is that the GOP's fault?
3) And as to his related vein, I for one feel Condoleeza Rice is a sell-out. Like my gay republican friends, she has left her people to pursue a political objective that will allow her to stay richer and stay more powerful. She is brilliant, Colin Powell is charismatic, both are excellent choices for their posts, yet they are leaders (like Miguel Estrada I might add) despite the Presiden't aversion to racial quotas, chosen as much for their racial heritage as for their skills. Bill Clinton did the same thing with his cabinet. As long as the Bush team uses them to puppet his weak foreign policy agenda and keep all Americans distracted from his racially divisive domestic proposals (do any of us really see this tax cut affecting America's minorities?), I feel they do their country a disservice.
It does not escape me that the administration is well intentioned, however Goldblatt's article seems to suggest that countless domestic and international foreign policy experts, heads of state, diplomats, are also all misguided leftists. His attribution of Cold War genocides in China, Cambodia as well as the Korean and Vietnam conflicts to an American decision not to go after Stalin suggests that the misguided may come from other places.
In fact, the suggestion that after years of American warcraft in their portion of the world that Islamic peoples will rise in support of the red white and blue and welcome our particular form of name brand freedom would be laughable if it weren't for the sad irony, the similarity to another man's lunatic vision of his people's triumphant liberation of Palestinian Jerusalem, after squashing the conquering American hordes at the gates of Baghdad.
Bran 2:08 AM : |
Monday, February 24, 2003
These links summarize the known countries with chemical and biological weapons (besides the U.S. and Russia which are profiled in preceding pages) and even have handy charts to check off as weapons inspectors or U.S. bombs destroy Iraqi munitions. See, international crises can be interactive.
Anyway, here's hoping that Rush Limbaugh is one of the Americans helping bring freedom to the Iraqi people in Bush's postwar utopia.
Bran 10:21 PM : |
Here's an article about the U.N. issue (see the Hello World post below).
Andrew 9:25 AM : |
Seymour Hersh does it again:
"JANE WALLACE: Let's talk about Konduz. During the war with Afghanistan--
SY HERSH: Great story.
JANE WALLACE: -- you reported that during a key battle our side in that battle had the enemy surrounded. There were a reported perhaps 8,000 enemy forces in there.
SY HERSH: Maybe even more. But certainly minimum that many.
JANE WALLACE: It's your story, take it.
SY HERSH: Okay, the cream of the crop of Al Qaeda caught in a town called Konduz which is near ... it's one little village and it's a couple hundred kilometers, 150 miles from the border of Pakistan. And I learned this story frankly-- through very, very clandestine operatives we have in the Delta Force and other very...
We were operating very heavily with a small number of men, three, 400 really in the first days of the war. And suddenly one night when they had everybody cornered in Konduz-- the special forces people were told there was a corridor that they could not fly in. There was a corridor sealed off to-- the United States military sealed off a corridor. And it was nobody could shoot anybody in this little lane that went from Konduz into Pakistan. And that's how I learned about it. I learned about it from a military guy who wanted to fly helicopters and kill people and couldn't do it that day.
JANE WALLACE: So, we had the enemy surrounded, the special forces guys are helping surround this enemy.
SY HERSH: They're whacking everybody they can whack that looks like a bad guy.
JANE WALLACE: And suddenly they're told to back off--
SY HERSH: From a certain area--
JANE WALLACE: -- and let planes fly out to Pakistan.
SY HERSH: There was about a three or four nights in which I can tell you maybe six, eight, 10, maybe 12 more-- or more heavily weighted-- Pakistani military planes flew out with an estimated-- no less than 2,500 maybe 3,000, maybe mmore. I've heard as many as four or 5,000. They were not only-- Al Qaeda but they were also-- you see the Pakistani ISI was-- the military advised us to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. There were dozens of senior Pakistani military officers including two generals who flew out.
And I also learned after I wrote this story that maybe even some of Bin Laden's immediate family were flown out on the those evacuations. We allowed them to evacuate. We had an evacuation.
JANE WALLACE: How high up was that evacuation authorized?
SY HERSH: I am here to tell you it was authorized — Donald Rumsfeld who — we'll talk about what he said later — it had to be authorized at the White House. But certainly at the Secretary of Defense level."
Hersh expresses the view that it's not the intelligence that's bad, but that there's a filter that keeps this information from being presented to the folks who make the decisions, possibly because they don't want to hear it.
Andrew 8:48 AM : |
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