Should We Worry About The Force Left Behind in Iraq?

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arab foreign ministers.jpg
This is from a discussion between former Secretary of State James Baker and Anderson Cooper on Wednesday evening, 6 December 2006 on Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees:

COOPER: And is it possible that getting the U.S. troops out will actually lessen that violence, that it will at least take away the motivation of nationalist insurgents?
BAKER: Many people have argued that to us. Many people in Iraq made that case.
COOPER: Do you buy it?
BAKER: Yes, I think there is some validity to it, absolutely. Then we are no longer seen to be the occupiers. We’re still going to have a very robust — forced presence in Iraq and in the region for quite a number of years after this thing sorts itself out whichever way it sorts itself out. We have to do that because we cannot — we have vital national interests in that region.
We have the problem of al Qaeda. We cannot leave the country to be a Taliban-like base for al Qaeda. So we’re going to have a — we’re going to maintain even after we do what we said here, there’s still going to be a lot of force protection combat capability, a lot of training, equipping and supporting, and there will be rapid reaction teams and special ops forces to chase al Qaeda.

Let’s give this a reality test — or a partial one.
None of the top tier strategists I met from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, or Egypt — none of them — thought that America could achieve its interests in Iraq with a smaller force.
While strategic analysts differed tremendously on what America should do — some advocating a regathering of confidence and forces in a coalition to bump up stewardship of and security in Iraq while others advocated total withdrawal — none saw a draw-down to a smaller presence without combat brigades as solving any fundamental problems of the state. In fact, they argue that if “God wills” the talibanization or al Qaeda-ization of Iraq or deems that it should become a vassal state of Iran — a smaller presence of US forces in Iraq will not prevent that outcome.
They suggest that either a complete withdrawal or a massive surge in presence are the only two options that might affect Iraq’s course. A withdrawal could lead, in the view of some of these strategists, to circumstances that actually “undercut” Shia domination and actually revive Sunni participation in the equation inside Iraq.
Alternatively, some suggest that America needs to de-flag and encourage a substantial increase in troop presence — perhaps with the French in the lead with Arab and other support in the ranks — for a massive new commitment to re-configuring the political order in Iraq and “hiring” all of the Iraqi military forces that were disbanded.
I’m not commenting now on how realistic these prescriptions are. But I think it is important to realize that Gulf region Arab strategists uniformly — in my fairly extensive survey of them this week in Dubai — think that a more modest base presence of Americans in Iraq in four or five bases actually continues to aggravate a domestic Iraqi insurgency while having fewer resources to solve the security problem.
Withdraw completely — or increase the troop presence under international colors two or three-fold. This is what Arab strategists recommend.
Probably won’t happen — but seems to me that these thinkers are more schooled in realpolitik and the dimensions of hard core realism than the erstwhile bipartisan team trying to solve George W. Bush’s (and America’s) Iraq problem.
— Steve Clemons
Ed Note: Special thanks to Marcia J for sending this clip.

Comments

57 comments on “Should We Worry About The Force Left Behind in Iraq?

  1. Pissed Off American says:

    Gads, you ever visit a website and feel like you need a shower afterwards? There is the website/blog, ran by this squirmy little slimey right wing pissant named “Nathan Tabor”. The name of the site is “The Conservative Voice”. Heres the deal at that pathetic little pile of internet excrement. They allow you to comment once or twice on an issue, than one or two shills will rebut your comments with a bunch of typical Bushlickin’ horseshit. The catch is that when you go to refute their crap, you find that you can no longer post comments. They ALWAYS get the last word, and its ALWAYS pure unadulterated propaganda.
    Check the site out if you enjoy nausea.
    http://www.theconservativevoice.com/

    Reply

  2. Mullah Cimoc says:

    ——– Original Message ——–
    Subject: U.S. TEENAGERS
    FINANCING INSURGENCY THROUGH PURCHASE OF FRIDAY PRAYER CDs
    From: “MIND CONTROL CENTRA.L”
    Date: Sun, January 1, 2006
    10:36 pm To: ”
    From: MIND CONTROL CENTRAL Date: 1/1/2006
    9:57:28 PM
    To: CIA MIND CONTROL AGENTS-REPORTERS SPECIAL
    DIRECTIVE
    Subject: MIND CONTROL CENTRAL – SPIKE ALL
    REPORTS ABOUT IRAQI CHILD INSURGENT OMAR BIN HAFAR.
    CHIEF ECONOMIST SAYS U.S. TEENAGERS FINANCING INSURGENCY
    THROUGH PURCHASE OF FRIDAY PRAYER CDs RELEASED BY IRAQI
    CHILD INSURGENT. TEENAGE GIRLS WEARING MODEST HEAD SCARVES
    INSTEAD OF CORPORATE SLUT OUTFITS. SNOOP DOG THREATENS A
    SPEECH.
    DIRECTIVE 39-67 DATELINE/TEL AVIV
    SECURITY LEVEL:
    RESTRICTED DISTRIBUTION/COMSPAN
    GSI (Goyim Stupification Index): .89
    RE: U.S. TEENAGERS
    FINANCING IRAKI INSURGENCY THROUGH PURCHASE OF MUSICAL
    PRAYER CDs. RAP INDUSTRY INDIGNANT AS PROFITS PLUMMET, CRACK
    SUPPLIERS FEAR HARD TIMES.
    1/1/2006 9:57:28 PM
    DIRECTIVE: SILENCE ALL REPORTS
    REGARDING ACTIVITIES OF CHILD INSURGENT OMAR BIN HAFAR, THE
    13 YEARS OLD IRAKI WHOSE TANK HUNTER KILLER SQUADS HAVE
    TERRIFIED HOMO NEOCONS. OMAR HAS DEVELOPED A GROWING
    UNDERGROUND FOLLOWING OF U.S. AND EUROPEAN TEENAGERS WHO
    PURCHASE 13 YEAR OLD OMAR’S PRAYER CDs AND FOLLOW HIS
    BATTLEFIELD EXPLOITS AS PERHAPS THE MOST FEARLESS OF ALL
    THE IRAKI INSURGENTS LEADERS.
    WHAT WAS ONCE RUMOR, BUT
    NOW LEGEND, CLAIMS THAT OMAR’S MOTHER AND FATHER WERE
    TORTURED TO DEATH BY ISRAELI INTERROGATORS OPERATING AT
    BAGHDAD INTL AIRPORT IN THE OPENING WEEKS OF THE WAR.
    OMAR’S FATHER, WHO WAS REPUTEDLY THE MEANEST ROUGHNECK IN
    ALL OF THE IRAKI OILFIELD, WAS MISTAKEN FOR A WEAPON OF
    MASS DESTRUCTION BY A HOMO NEOCON AND INTERROGATED AT THE
    SPECIALIZED PERMANENT INTERROGATION CENTER (S.P.I.C.).
    AN INSURGENT ASSAULT IN JUNE 2003 ALLOWED OMAR AND OTHER
    CHILD DETAINEES TO ESCAPE, BUT NOT BEFORE BURNING WITH CANS
    OF GASOLINE THE
    INTERROGATORS AT SPIC.
    CENTNIG OFFICIALS CLAIM THAT OF THE
    ORIGINAL TWELVE CHILDREN WHO FORMED THE “SONS OF IRON
    BRIGADE” ONLY OMAR HAS SURVIVED. DESPITE THE FACT THAT
    SONS OF IRON ACCEPT ONLY WAR ORPAHS IN THEIR RANKS, THEY
    NOW FIELD OVER 6,500 COMBATANTS THANKS IN LARGE PART TO THE
    PASSOVER SLAUGHTER OF MUSLIM MEN IN OCTOBER 2004.
    ALMOST ALL HUNT U.S. AND COALITION TANKS EXCEPT FOR SQUADS OF
    ROVING ASSASSINS WHO STRIKE COLLABORATORS (OMAR CALLS THEM
    REPTILES) AT NIGHT AND USUALLY KILL ENTIRE FAMILIES.
    U.S. ECONOMIC ADVISER PREDICTS IMMINENT COLLAPSE OF RAP
    MUSTIC INDUSTRY RESULTING FROM MASSIVE WAVES OF BLACK URBAN
    YOUTH (AND SOME WHITE TRASH)LISTENING TO PRAYER CSs,
    STUDYING HISTORY AND MATHMATICS, AND READING SCRIPTURE.
    IRATE ALEISTER CROWLEY SOCIETY MEMBERS HAVE URGED PRES.
    BUSH TO INTERVENE. HQ ADVISES THAT OMAR BIN HAFAR IS A
    SUPERSTAR IN THE THIRD WORLD BUT UNKNOWN IN USA AND
    BRITAIN. LET’S KEEP IT THAT WAY. RUMORS CIRCULATING AMONG
    TEENAGERS ABOUT
    OMAR’S ROLE IN THE TELEVISED COERCIVE ENEMAS GIVEN TO
    OLIVER NORTH BY BRIGADE MEMBERS CAN BE BROADCAST AS
    FREQUENTLY AS POSSIBLE.

    Reply

  3. David N says:

    I posted before, and now have been confirmed in my evaluation.
    Baker is just as delusional as Bush.
    A smaller force will not only be just as unable to save the failed policy in Iraq, it will be MORE vulnerable, and lead to MORE casualties.
    And what set of seputagenarian sages will get us out of that?
    Plus, be clear. There is no goal to be attained in Iraq. The adventure has already failed, all our guys are dying for out there is Bush’s ego.

    Reply

  4. elementary teacher says:

    A Poem on Sunday
    Soldier-Son of Mary
    I wrapped you
    in a blanket white.
    You who blanket me
    with your frail form,
    lest I perish in the might
    of cruelty and scorn,
    un-blest, rejecting
    your pierced feet
    stepping
    into the deep,
    rising from the hells
    with me in your arms.
    You who blanket me
    with your frail form,
    I wrap you
    in a blanket white.
    with love for all of you
    from ET

    Reply

  5. Pissed Off American says:

    Well, it appears that Bush is not getting the message that he was sent by the results of the election. It seems the Pentagon is pulling plans directly out of Bush’s ass. And if Bush goes with the Pentagon recomendations, any dialogue with Iran is out. At the same time Ohlmert is getting more rabid with his Iran comments. It is also interesting that the Pentagon’s plans reportedly include the targeted assinations of key members of Sadr’s militia. How many seats do
    Sadr’s followers hold in the Iraqi government? So now we are going to start assasinating members of the majority ruling party that was elected democratically??? This fuckin’ President is detached from reality, and poses a far gereater risk to our security than Al Qaeda could ever dream of. If anyone thinks these countries, Iraq, OR the USA, can survive two more years of this horseshit, than I have a Niger document I wanna sell ya.
    http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=2712135&page=1&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312

    Reply

  6. ET says:

    Carter can run for a second term.

    Reply

  7. tim says:

    Law Council of Australia president Tim Bugg said a bill of rights had not seemed necessary until the war on terror, which saw the commitment to due process discarded. “We ought not need to have a bill of rights, but I think we now have to look at having one,” Mr Bugg said.
    “The Australian passport means nothing if political considerations are involved.”
    Mr Bugg said the Government had been “100 per cent complicit” in denying Hicks’ right to be afforded the principle of innocent until proven guilty. He said the Government was calling for him to be tried by a flawed military commission system already found by the US Supreme Court to be illegal, and likely to be judged so again. Initial charges against Hicks were dropped after the US Supreme Court in June ruled the military commissions system unlawful.
    The office of Attorney-General Philip Ruddock was not responding this week to queries on the Hicks case except to direct inquiries to earlier comments that the Government wanted his trial before the reconstituted military commissions brought on as soon as possible.
    Mr Hulls said the Government had prejudged Hicks as soon as he was detained.
    “You really have to ask if there have been substantial, sustained and meaningful attempts by the Australian Government to ensure that David Hicks was assured due process,” he said.
    “When I got a little bit of media that I was going to raise this matter at the last (standing committee of attorneys-general) meeting in Melbourne and Mr Ruddock didn’t want to put it on the agenda, I said bad luck, this is a matter of absolute importance.
    “(Mr) Ruddock turned up to the meeting and said this morning I have spoken with Gonzalez, the US Attorney. Why did he do that? He did that only because he was forced to as a result of pressure in the media in relation to this matter.
    “I believe they have been simply reacting on an as-needs basis and I think that is an abominable thing.”
    Professor Williams said Hicks could be prosecuted in Australia, despite repeated Government denials that he could not be brought home because he had not broken Australian law and would face no charges.
    In an opinion prepared last year, Professor Williams concluded that Hicks could be “charged and tried in Australia in regard to the majority of the charges brought against him by the (pre-existing) United States Military Commission”.
    He said that Hicks could have been charged with conspiracy to commit grave breaches of the Geneva Convention and could also be charged under the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act for undertaking paramilitary training and engaging in hostile activity in a foreign state.
    Mr Ruddock dismissed the advice saying it did not change the mind of the senior counsel who advise the Commonwealth on these matters. “What that illustrates,” Professor Williams said, “(is) he could be subject to a trial, but you wouldn’t get a conviction because the evidence doesn’t exist to convict him except through a dodgy process in the US that allows all sorts of things we wouldn’t allow.”

    Reply

  8. Carroll says:

    It doesn’t matter how “realpolitik” your stragety is if the people you send to carrying it out continue to screw up. Can we just leave now?
    http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2062489.ece
    CIA is undermining British war effort, say military chiefs
    Confidential report speaks of ‘serious tensions’ in the coalition over strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan
    By Robert Fox
    Published: 10 December 2006
    “The Americans knew Daud was a main British ally,” one official told The Independent on Sunday, “yet they deliberately undermined him and told Karzai to sack him.” The official said the Defence Secretary, Des Browne, was “tearing his hair out”.

    Reply

  9. Carroll says:

    BTW…Carter’s book is now Number 8 on the best seller list at amazon…which actually makes it the number two best seller in NON fiction since the other six in the top 8 are fiction, it is right behind Obama’s new book.
    You can get it for $16 and 5.95 for shipping to whatever you want it delivered so it makes a great christmas gift for friends.

    Reply

  10. Carroll says:

    Posted by DonS at December 9, 2006 07:25 PM
    >>>>>>>
    Hey, I have been opening my mouth for some time now, ever since I found out what was actually going on via Isr-Pal – DC.
    I have called every politican’s office that represents me and even others who don’t…my repubican congressman agrees 100% with me…I have called Hillary’s office, and John Kerry’s office and Reids office and Conyners office..in fact I have lost rack of how many I have called, I think the last call I made was to Betty McCollum when she told AIPAC to kiss her ass…but I have no problem telling the guilty ones THEY ARE ISRAELI WHORES WHO DO NOT REPRESENT AMERICA OR AMERICANS. And will NOT get my vote or those of my family or anyone else I have any influence with. I don’t care what party they are with, they open their pandering mouths to announce “Israel’s Cause is American’s Cause” and they are dead to me…cause America’s cause isn’t genocide and occupation or isn’t suppose to be anyway.
    I am calling Pelosi’s office this coming week..politicans only understand one thing…fear..and they need to fear us more than they fear AIPAC.

    Reply

  11. Carroll says:

    Posted by selise at December 9, 2006 05:30 PM
    >>>>>>>>
    No, I missed seeing the hearing, but if the ‘politicans’ are worried that means they are thinking what will happen to them if our troops get caught in a meltdown and get slaughtered….

    Reply

  12. Frank says:

    If ever there was a profile of courage character extant in the USA today it is Jimmy Carter. I watched on CNN headline news two repeat advertisements attacking Carter and his book within a space of less than two hours. It was couched as news. The inimitable Israeli defender Dershiwitz performed his expected Israel first diatribe in that “news item”. It was a “they who doth protest too much” moment,…….you know,it means Carter hit a “that elephant in the room” we dare bit speak its name, AIPAC nerve. These attacks are serving to increase the sale of Carter’s books, further spreading the truth out to the sheeple in this country as to who really runs our ME foreign policy,
    Our politicians are in shock, with Nancy Pelosi shamefully showing her “ouh vei” colors early in the upcoming donnybrook that Carter’s book has started. The truth genie is out of the AIPAC confined bottle, and finally a debate on who really controls the ME foreign policy of the USA is beginning to get started in earnest. You can bet our politicians will learn alot about “attack ads” technique from the Isareli backed mouth pieces acting as journalists.
    My only worry is that the inspiration that caused those five roof dancing Isralis in New Jersey to immorally celebrate the WTC bldgs collapse will not be repeated. False flag attacks ala the USS Liberty is a worry.

    Reply

  13. John says:

    A wise teacher once told me, “if you can’t express an idea, you don’t have an idea.” My bet is that no one will publicly express our alleged ‘vital national security interests.’ Until they can express them, we are totally justified in assuming that they don’t know what they are.

    Reply

  14. Roger says:

    “steve – please tell us – what exactly do you think are america’s interests in iraq?”
    OIL!

    Reply

  15. DonS says:

    Carter has been telling the truth for along time, to little avail. All it has garnered him, and likely his present book will enhance the effort, is, at best, condescension and more frequently ridicule with regard to everything about his public personna, and some of the private. And this concentrated diminishment is practice by virtually all politicians and most of the pundits.
    I mean, I’m not a Jimmy Carter fanantic, but the guy is quite obviously decent, and certainly passionate about peace and democracy. Not to mention he knows more about the poltcal game in the mideast than most.
    Generally I subscribe wholeheartedly and enthusiatically to the verifiable truth that “all politicians are scum . . . and some are much worse”. Carter kind of skews that a bit.
    I think it is good and even encourageing that some here detect the glimmer of [potential] change to the American (public’s/politician’s . . . take your choice) perception of Israeli hoodwinking, to be gentle. I’m not so sanguine. I do wish my fellow lansman would open their g-d damned mouths about this in a way unmistakable to the tone deaf masses. Maybe its something the public has to lead on. I surely don’t know. You’ve gotta risk that the anti-semitism ploy isn’t going to wash forever.
    (p.s., I’m wearing a garlic braid to ward off the ever-righteous defenders of the faith).

    Reply

  16. Den Valdron says:

    **Alternatively, some suggest that America needs to de-flag and encourage a substantial increase in troop presence — perhaps with the French in the lead with Arab and other support in the ranks — for a massive new commitment to re-configuring the political order in Iraq and “hiring” all of the Iraqi military forces that were disbanded.**
    Yes, yes, I can see it all now. An entire occupation army in Groucho Marx glasses. Disguises becoming standard military issue.
    “Excuse me, are you an American soldier?”
    “Mas None! Monsur, jay am sweese frenchass, from france!”
    I love it.
    Of course, the only reason that France put troops into Lebanon was because they needed to foil you and Israel.
    Meanwhile, even when you looked like you were on top of things in Iraq, you didn’t get a lot of volunteers, and you were pretty free with the insolent ‘F-bombs’ to your natural friends and allies.
    Now… half your coalition of the willing is gone or pulling out or reducing troops. You’ve got a rolling bloodbath. You’ve mishandled things so profoundly that you’ve got cooties.
    Nah, no one will be coming to your rescue. You don’t deserve it. You guys are going down…

    Reply

  17. Pissed Off American says:

    Uh oh, I sense another “you’re doing a helluva job” moment coming. Only, this time it will be on the Democratic side. Heres your new Intel Committee Chairman……..
    http://public.cq.com/public/20061211_homeland.html
    The dialogue went like this:
    Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?
    “Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”
    “Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.
    “Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.
    He couldn’t have been more wrong.
    Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

    Reply

  18. karenk says:

    Selise,
    Thanks for clarifying…and noble volunteer work you’ve done with peace activism. I suppose I was preaching to the converted there….

    Reply

  19. selise says:

    Carroll at December 9, 2006 05:26 PM – agreed on the danger to our troops (isg embedding plan). did you by any chance the senate armed forces committee hearing last week? even our out-of-touch senators were worried.

    Reply

  20. Carroll says:

    I am really getting the hebbie jebbies over this “embedding” plan. If the slightest thing happens and the Iraq gov falls our boys are ducks in a barrel.
    http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/print?id=2712135
    And these “unidentified” death squads and seemingly offical hit teams makes it double crazy
    http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/005300.html
    “Who are these new Iraqi special forces units whose origins no one seems to know, and whose existence some deny? With a chain of command that seems to be outside of ordinary ones?”

    Reply

  21. Carroll says:

    Posted by karenk at December 9, 2006 09:47 AM
    >>>>>>>>
    You are right…no one knows who anyone is in Iraq..and the US can’t trust what intell they get…the Sunnis can sic them on the Shiites and visa versa…it’s a true nut house.

    Reply

  22. Carroll says:

    BTW….please pass this Carter contact info on to anyone you know…we need a little people power to help Jimmy fight the good fight.

    Reply

  23. Carroll says:

    Everyone interested in peace for the ME should write, call or email Jimmy Carter and thank him for having the courage to tell the truth in his new book and challenge the militants in the media, the right wing Jewish-Israeli camps here and in Israel.
    Isr/Pal must be settled, every day it continues in the current manner it shames you and me and our children and robs us of our own heritage as fair and decent people and defenders of justice and law.
    Contact Information: The Carter Center
    Mailing Address:
    The Carter Center
    One Copenhill
    453 Freedom Parkway
    Atlanta, GA 30307
    Phone:
    (404) 420-5100 or (800) 550-3560
    E-mail:
    carterweb@emory.edu

    Reply

  24. Linda says:

    It’s not the Pottery Barn but Humpty Dumpty. Hopefully sooner, but probably not until way too much later, somebody will just have to say that we lost the Iraq war and figure out what we do next. That’s the bad news. The good news is that at least that will happen before we lose 55,000 fighting a war we can no longer win.

    Reply

  25. ET says:

    OK. You get the goat. I keep the horse.

    Reply

  26. Easy E says:

    Jerome, honey, repeat after me…the Dems are no different than the repubs…they are “Politicans”, first,last and always.
    Once elected they take on the mafia code of “omerta”..they owe no allegience to anyone but their own incestous political family in return for the family taking care of them.
    Posted by: Carroll at December 9, 2006 02:34 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Agreed one-hundred-percent. “Omerta” was already in place during Gates hearings when not a SINGLE Dem asked a tough question and ALL gave him a free pass. Nothing will change with Dems led by Reid/Pelosi. A sad state of affairs.
    DEMOCRATS LET GATES SLIDE
    by Aaron Glantz
    December 9, 2006
    I wish I could say that the Democratic takeover of Congress gives me hope for an end to the war in Iraq. But it doesn’t. Since winning an overwhelming victory at the polls this November, the Democrats have done nothing to engender optimism in the peace camp.
    Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid has ruled out any attempt to cut funding for the war. In the confirmation hearings for Secretary of Defense designate Robert Gates this week, the Democrats failed to ask a single tough question.
    No Senator, for example, asked Robert Gates about Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, habeas corpus, torture, military tribunals, extraordinary rendition (sending prisoners without charge to third countries like Syria and Jordan to be tortured). No one asked him why the US military continues to hold an estimated 15,000 prisoners without charge in Iraq. No one asked him about a Red Cross report saying 90 percent of those held are innocent.
    No Senator asked Robert Gates about civilian casualties in Iraq. No one asked him about the Lancet report out this fall showing 655,000 Iraqis have died since the US invasion and that one of the leading causes of death, according to the report, was US air-strikes.
    No Senator asked Robert Gates about a plan he wrote for President Reagan for an invasion of Lybia to “redraw the map of Northern Africa.” No one asked him about his record of falsifying intelligence during the Cold War and his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal.
    No Senator asked Robert Gates about his claim, in written testimony given before his public hearing, that he believes in the doctrine of preemptive strikes on other countries, the policy position that got us in the mess in Iraq.
    No Senator asked Robert Gates about his claim, in written testimony given before his public hearing, that he believes Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction and that he still – even in hindsight – thought the invasion was a good thing. What evidence did he have to support that?
    No Senator asked Robert Gates about conflicts of interest stemming from his service on the corporate boards of defense companies, including San Diego-based SAIC which has a won hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts connected to the US occupation in Iraq, including a major contract to train the Iraqi police and military and another contract to set up a new Iraqi state TV network after the fall of Saddam. Gates has also served on the board of Parker Drilling of Houston, Texas which works in partnership with Dick Cheney’s old company, Halliburton. No one asked him about that.
    No Senator asked Robert Gates to respond to reports from inside the Pentagon that show at least 152,669 veterans have filed disability claims after fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Of the more than 100,000 claims granted, Veterans Administration records show at least 1,502 veterans have been compensated as 100 percent disabled. No Senator asked Gates about reports from inside the Pentagon that veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are not getting the care they need.
    These are just a few, very obvious, questions that Senators could have asked Robert Gates before confirming him. The fact that they didn’t ask even one of them, but instead talked ad nauseam about “bipartisanship” should be a wake-up call to antiwar voters that they’ll need to hold the Democrats’ feet to the fire if they want to accomplish anything in the coming years.
    The vote to confirm Robert Gates was 95-2. The only Senators to vote “no” were Republicans Rick Santorum (who said Gates was too soft on “Islamic fascism”) and Jim Bunning (because he opposes any negotiations with Syria and Iran).
    Not a single Democrat voted against Robert Gates for Secretary of Defense. Not a single one asked him a tough question.
    * * *

    Reply

  27. Pissed Off American says:

    This “i before e” stuff, “except after c” crap, warped any chance I ever had of consistently getting it right, ET. Besides, its the rebel in me. I just can’t resist getting the teacher’s goat.
    At fifty three, I doubt these two letters are going to make peace with me, as they haven’t done so yet. But hey, I got the sequence of a and i down pretty pat, so I think it is the e thats got it in for me.

    Reply

  28. ET says:

    Tried it. With my n-e-i-g-h-b-o-r. He didn’t like me slapping his face, so he slapped me back. Ouch! I better apologize for that and make it up to him somehow. I am so sorrry. How can I make this right between us?
    elementary teacher

    Reply

  29. Pissed Off American says:

    BTW, just as an experiment, I suggest you walk next door today, and take your nieghbor a prime T-Bone steak, and some fresh asparagus.
    Then, tomorrow, go to the same nieghbor’s house and smack him in the face.
    Let me know which course of action spawns nieghborly goodwill, will you?
    While you’re at it, you might want to send a few of our world leaders the results of our little experiment as well, eh?

    Reply

  30. Pissed Off American says:

    I encourage everyone to read Carter’s book, and lend it out. Talk about it, draw attention to it. Pelosi’s comments about the book, made even before the book was published, demonstrate the mind set of these bastards in Washington that consider the interests of a foreign nation above the interests of our own. It is high time that we worked to break this stranglehold on American foreign policy in the Middle East, that is so tenaciously held by Israel and its various lobbies, such as AIPAC. Considering Pelosi’s comments, and her choices for the heads of various committees, it is obvious that she has no intention of deviating from the disastrous status quo that is the hallmark of our policies in regards to the Isr/Pal issue.
    And one must question how sincere her efforts are for a course change in Iraq when it is Israel’s position that direct talks with Iran and Syria will not be productive. Will Pelosi act in our best interests in seeking to extricate ourselves from this mess as well as aiding the Iraqi people in finding civil order? Or will she feed us her typical political doublespeak while working behind the scenes to derail any direct talks with Syria and Iran, as a demonstation of her fealty to Israel? It is hard to believe, considering her past statements and policy endorsements, that she will break ranks with Israel and endorse many of the suggestions of the ISG.
    I see too, that the efforts to privatize the Iraqi oil assets are once again gaining momentum. If such a course is successful, than Bush can indeed hang a banner, soaked in the blood of our young men and women, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi innocents, proclaiming, “Mission Accomplished”. I encourage all here to read Naomi Klein’s “Bagdad Year Zero”, as published in Harpers in Sept. 2004. In that article lies the answer to our presence there, and what “Mission Accomplished” REALLY means to the criminals that embarked this nation on its current deadly and disastrous course. means

    Reply

  31. ET says:

    Let’s recap the commander’s paradoxical verbiage.
    Read slowly, emphasizing credibility:
    I
    could not meet with Maliki
    in Iraq,
    because
    violence in Baghdad
    is out of control.
    For security reasons,
    the Secret Service
    would not allow
    me
    to go to Iraq,
    where
    I,
    your commander,
    am “building a stable democracy”
    for them.
    We
    need less
    democracy
    here,
    because
    I
    am in command
    of
    you
    now;
    I
    make
    Habeas corpus
    disappear.
    You
    obey,
    or you
    don’t love your country.
    Clear?

    Reply

  32. selise says:

    karenk at December 9, 2006 10:29 AM – i’m so sorry that i gave the impression that i personally don’t support a withdrawal that begins as soon as possible. i do now and i have – starting in 2002, i organized and protested against the war more than i can remember.. and in 2002 i visited israel/palestine and volunteered with peace activists there (and i hope to return next year).
    personally, i don’t see ANY justification for continuing a war of occupation that has already caused the deaths of more than 3/4 of a million people – with who knows how many more to come.
    what i meant was that i don’t think the foreign policy elite have any right to be talking about what should be done in by the usa in iraq and in the ME in general – before they tell me, explictly and exactly what they think are america’s interests in iraq… and what they think are the costs of pursuing these “interests”. can they justify these costs to us? to themselves? to the people who will pay the price for them?

    Reply

  33. Pissed Off American says:

    Speaking frankly about Israel and Palestine
    Jimmy Carter says his recent book is drawing knee-jerk accusations of anti-Israel bias.
    By Jimmy Carter
    JIMMY CARTER was the 39th president of the United States. His newest book is “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” published last month. He is scheduled to sign books Monday at Vroman’s in Pasadena.
    December 8, 2006
    I SIGNED A CONTRACT with Simon & Schuster two years ago to write a book about the Middle East, based on my personal observations as the Carter Center monitored three elections in Palestine and on my consultations with Israeli political leaders and peace activists.
    We covered every Palestinian community in 1996, 2005 and 2006, when Yasser Arafat and later Mahmoud Abbas were elected president and members of parliament were chosen. The elections were almost flawless, and turnout was very high — except in East Jerusalem, where, under severe Israeli restraints, only about 2% of registered voters managed to cast ballots.
    The many controversial issues concerning Palestine and the path to peace for Israel are intensely debated among Israelis and throughout other nations — but not in the United States. For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices.
    It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defense of justice or human rights for Palestinians. Very few would ever deign to visit the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Gaza City or even Bethlehem and talk to the beleaguered residents. What is even more difficult to comprehend is why the editorial pages of the major newspapers and magazines in the United States exercise similar self-restraint, quite contrary to private assessments expressed quite forcefully by their correspondents in the Holy Land.
    With some degree of reluctance and some uncertainty about the reception my book would receive, I used maps, text and documents to describe the situation accurately and to analyze the only possible path to peace: Israelis and Palestinians living side by side within their own internationally recognized boundaries. These options are consistent with key U.N. resolutions supported by the U.S. and Israel, official American policy since 1967, agreements consummated by Israeli leaders and their governments in 1978 and 1993 (for which they earned Nobel Peace Prizes), the Arab League’s offer to recognize Israel in 2002 and the International Quartet’s “Roadmap for Peace,” which has been accepted by the PLO and largely rejected by Israel.
    The book is devoted to circumstances and events in Palestine and not in Israel, where democracy prevails and citizens live together and are legally guaranteed equal status.
    Although I have spent only a week or so on a book tour so far, it is already possible to judge public and media reaction. Sales are brisk, and I have had interesting interviews on TV, including “Larry King Live,” “Hardball,” “Meet the Press,” “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” the “Charlie Rose” show, C-SPAN and others. But I have seen few news stories in major newspapers about what I have written.
    Book reviews in the mainstream media have been written mostly by representatives of Jewish organizations who would be unlikely to visit the occupied territories, and their primary criticism is that the book is anti-Israel. Two members of Congress have been publicly critical. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for instance, issued a statement (before the book was published) saying that “he does not speak for the Democratic Party on Israel.” Some reviews posted on Amazon.com call me “anti-Semitic,” and others accuse the book of “lies” and “distortions.” A former Carter Center fellow has taken issue with it, and Alan Dershowitz called the book’s title “indecent.”
    Out in the real world, however, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve signed books in five stores, with more than 1,000 buyers at each site. I’ve had one negative remark — that I should be tried for treason — and one caller on C-SPAN said that I was an anti-Semite. My most troubling experience has been the rejection of my offers to speak, for free, about the book on university campuses with high Jewish enrollment and to answer questions from students and professors. I have been most encouraged by prominent Jewish citizens and members of Congress who have thanked me privately for presenting the facts and some new ideas.
    The book describes the abominable oppression and persecution in the occupied Palestinian territories, with a rigid system of required passes and strict segregation between Palestine’s citizens and Jewish settlers in the West Bank. An enormous imprisonment wall is now under construction, snaking through what is left of Palestine to encompass more and more land for Israeli settlers. In many ways, this is more oppressive than what blacks lived under in South Africa during apartheid. I have made it clear that the motivation is not racism but the desire of a minority of Israelis to confiscate and colonize choice sites in Palestine, and then to forcefully suppress any objections from the displaced citizens. Obviously, I condemn any acts of terrorism or violence against innocent civilians, and I present information about the terrible casualties on both sides.
    The ultimate purpose of my book is to present facts about the Middle East that are largely unknown in America, to precipitate discussion and to help restart peace talks (now absent for six years) that can lead to permanent peace for Israel and its neighbors. Another hope is that Jews and other Americans who share this same goal might be motivated to express their views, even publicly, and perhaps in concert. I would be glad to help with that effort.
    Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times

    Reply

  34. karenk says:

    Selise,
    Sorry but talk of decreasing US presence in Iraq is anything but premature. How many more troops and innocent Iraqis have to die? It’s easy to armchair this war but take a look around you. If you pay attention, you’ll soon run into more and more young people carrying the wounds of this war,as they begin coming home and reintegrating. There are 20,000++ injured Iraq war vets, many permanently disabled, and the number will grow. Not to mention PTSD-the invisible scars and wounds that sometimes never heal. It’s important to note the cost, in so many areas, of all this to our society. And to do something to slow it, stop it, ASAP.

    Reply

  35. selise says:

    “The point here is that neither the realists nor the neocons are coming clean. What exactly is their notion of US strategic interest?”
    John at December 9, 2006 12:06 AM – thank you for saying it so well. i think all this talk about what we should do (in iraq, in the ME, in the world) is premature. i am sick to death of the lies and deception.
    first we need an open and honest discussion of what our interests are. then we can talk about how we might pursue those interests (and the costs involved – to us and others, including future generations). i expect different people to have different answer – that’s ok and the basis for discussion.

    Reply

  36. karenk says:

    People who live in a place know who the “outsiders” are. It’s the same everywhere. If we seriously decrease our presence, then the Al Qaeda “outsiders” will stick out even more and become the focus of the “insurgents” (the people who live there). Once they get rid of them, then why would they continue to fight each other? Sooner or later they’d have to stop because they have a vested interest to do so. They LIVE there! Everyone else is going home to somewhere else(in the case of US troops it’s a blessing, in the case of Al Qaeda elements-frightening). Either the US wants Iraqis to create their own government or not. Time to really let them take the ball. We’ve done quite enough.

    Reply

  37. liz says:

    Bush lost his wars. He should accept it and move on as he has required countless Americans to do with countless program cuts during his” most likely unelected” presidency. Everyone keeps focusing on Iraq. I say look at everything he has torn up at home too. Bush has wrecked the ship of state America. I wish someone would use some logic I have not seen and restore America to pre Bush laws, rule of law and rules. Bush represents total anarchy to me and most of my freinds. And we are tired, exhausted at this everyday fight. I don’t understand though, why people are ignoring so many many bad things at home in lieu of Iraq’s needs. I have American needs too…. like getting my health care disenfranchisement fixed where my rights equal your rights at the doctor. That is something else Bush did …. he has allowed the entire world to be torn up and trashed.

    Reply

  38. Carroll says:

    Why doesn’t Baker just tell the truth?
    Well, because he would have to say we don’t have any interest in Iraq, except maybe oil somewhere down the road.
    Our interest is in the ME status quo, which Iraq has upset…the Saudis oil, the lucrative weapons sales we make to countries all over the region and the campaign war chest of both parties in the US that results from continuing the AIPAC/Israeli welfare ponzi scheme.
    That’s it, that’s all….and if it all falls down, good riddence to it all. Change is good.
    Out with the old, on with the new.

    Reply

  39. Carroll says:

    Let’s do a quick review of the currently sane and insane.
    Iran, sane or insane?..to accept their help in return for accepting them into the power circle of the ME? I vote yea, it’s not like we are gonna stop them anyway. We can’t nuke the ME, we need it, we can’t fight their style gorilla wars either. So? Do we accept them now or several trillion and thousands more dead later?
    The Price of Iran’s Help
    By David Ignatius
    Wednesday, December 6, 2006; Page A25
    DUBAI — On the eve of the Baker-Hamilton commission’s report, a top Iranian official set a tough condition for his country’s help in stabilizing Iraq, saying that Tehran isn’t interested in such cooperation unless the Bush administration sets a timetable for withdrawing its troops.
    Ali Larijani, Iran’s national security adviser, said in an interview that a U.S. plan for removing “occupation forces” from Iraq would be considered “a sign of a change in strategy.” In that case, he said, “Iran would definitely extend the hand of assistance and would use its influence to help solve the problem.”
    The Iranian official made his comments after a speech yesterday to a conference here called the Arab Strategy Forum. His remarks were the clearest statement I’ve heard of how Iran views its role in the region following what he described as the failure of U.S. intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon. His tone was triumphalist: In his view, America is bogged down in Iraq and “in dire need of change,” while a newly confident Iran is positioning itself as a dominant power for the region.
    “When we face a strategic stalemate, we can break it only by changing the strategy itself,” Larijani said in his speech. He explained that America’s choice was to stick with a failing strategy of unilateralism, tinker with it to “retard the process” of defeat, or replace it altogether with a new strategy of “interdependence” that recognized Iran’s primacy as a regional power. By embracing a new strategy, he said, the United States “would bring psychological calm to the region and help America to behave in a more rational way.”
    When I asked Larijani later at a news conference what Iran would regard as evidence that the Bush administration was indeed changing its strategy, he said, “The clearest sign would be the exit or evacuation of U.S. forces,” adding: “Should there be a timetable presented, that would serve as a positive sign.”
    On the nuclear issue, Larijani said that a U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution reportedly drafted this week by Russia and France would not stop Iran’s uranium-enrichment efforts. “I announce: This is not effective,” he said.
    After these public comments, Larijani talked one-on-one about the changes he thinks have been set in motion by the Republican Party’s defeat in last month’s congressional elections. He wouldn’t talk in detail about the likely recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, headed by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and ex-representative Lee Hamilton. But he indicated that if the Bush administration embraced a call for gradual withdrawal, Iran would agree to join discussions on Iraq and Afghanistan. Though he called repeatedly for a U.S. withdrawal plan, Larijani didn’t explain how the resulting vacuum would be filled in a way that avoided all-out civil war.
    Harvard professor Graham Allison, who had a private talk with Larijani following mine, said: “In discussing Iraq after U.S. withdrawal he didn’t seem to have a credible idea of what comes next.”
    As for the idea of a regional peace conference involving Iraq’s neighbors, Larijani told me he favored a smaller group of countries that are committed to the “new paradigm” in Iraq flowing from its democratic elections and constitution — both of which enfranchised Iraq’s Shiite majority. “We are against a tribal democracy,” he said.
    Larijani said President Bush’s statement in an interview with me in September, in which Bush recognized Iran’s status as an important nation in the region, was “the first sign of having any respect for the long history and cultural background of Iran.” But Larijani said the administration needed to accompany such rhetoric with a halt to its “adventurous moves” against Tehran. “The Iranian people might be great and gracious, but not naive,” he said.
    Larijani isn’t proposing a grand bargain but a ruthlessly pragmatic one shaped by Tehran’s view of current realities: Iran is up, America is down, and any post-Iraq settlement should reflect those facts. That’s the steep price of Tehran’s help.
    In a column last week, I praised Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel for his prescient early warnings about the risks of U.S. involvement in Iraq. Some readers complained that for all his prescience, Hagel still voted to support the war, and that I was ignoring the many Democrats who were similarly wary of Iraq — and who voted against war funding. These readers are right. Hagel took political risks expressing his concerns back in 2003, but so did Democrats who voted against the Iraq mission despite a vitriolic barrage from the administration.
    Meanwhile, mouthpiece for the Israeli right wing crazies exhorts american jews to take to the streets and demand the US attack Iran and then goes on to discretely threaten the US and Europe with the destruction of the Persian oil fields if they don’t.
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?apage=1&cid=1164881847667&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
    Then we have the Dems..well what can we say about the new majority…the leaders have no plan of their own and don’t like anyone else’s plan either. They can’t figure out how to attack Iran without cutting and running in Iraq by talking to Iran. As usual they are immobilized by their own conflicting omerta’s while they try to fatten their 2008 war chest, pledge allegience to Israel, and pretend to govern at the same time.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/07/AR2006120701739_pf.html

    Reply

  40. Carroll says:

    Posted by Jerome Gaskins at December 9, 2006 01:44 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    Jerome, honey, repeat after me…the Dems are no different than the repubs…they are “Politicans”, first,last and always.
    Once elected they take on the mafia code of “omerta”..they owe no allegience to anyone but their own incestous political family in return for the family taking care of them.
    That is why is has taken the FBI to ever get one of them kicked out on criminal charges, the “family” “ethics board” isn’t going to rat out one of their own.

    Reply

  41. Carroll says:

    The funny thing, if you appreciate irony, is..
    Underneath all the grand plans and brain storming solutions, they are all scambling like hell to just put Iraq and the ME back like we found it.
    Can’t be done…so next up is what?
    Getting use to a new ME power structure or on going small and large wars…or both.

    Reply

  42. Jerome Gaskins says:

    We should worry about why no democrat will entertain articles of impeachment for this president. Even John Conyers has dumped the works of his investigations to toe the party line.
    What makes anyone think that anything will change without pressure for accountability from the majority party? There is nothing in the way of this idiot perpetuating the Middle East war until all the arabs, kurds and persians are enslaved my the israelis because the Iraqi conflagration is scheduled for at least 10 years, and nobody in our government listens to americans. In fact, their pay is increased every time they ignore us!

    Reply

  43. Den Valdron says:

    I think that the U.S. notion that it can continue to pursue its strategic interests, whatever they are, is misplaced.
    The reality is that whatever those interest are… to rape Iraqi women, to loot the Iraqi economy, revenge against the world for 9/11, domination or control of strategic oil supplies, punishing that little 8 year old bastard – Mohammed Ali Abbas…. its over.
    America will not achieve its strategic interests. Rather, America will depart the region in shame and disgrace. America’s volunteer army will be ground to rags and will become a trillion dollar joke. America’s reputation will lie in tatters. America’s allies will have forsaken it. America’s enemies will forge a new world, based in part on principles that America itself betrayed. Your economy is already failing, your democracy is over. You’ve become a nation of jackals.
    You have nothing left but your fevered delusions. Brent Budowski’s ‘Potus Plan’ and James Baker’s nonsensical plan to leave and stay, stay and leave, march away in defeat, yet leave a garrison to keep the country under thumb.
    Seriously. Get out while you’ve got a little dignity left.

    Reply

  44. John says:

    We can all assign strategic interests to justify our involvement in Iraq and the ME. Not having a failed state is probably as good as any. I think it’s fealty to Houston. The point here is that neither the realists nor the neocons are coming clean. What exactly is their notion of US strategic interest?
    Once we understand that, we can have a real debate. All this talk about freedom and democracy is just BS, and they should all admit it, once and for all.

    Reply

  45. DS says:

    I don’t think it’s obscure, or much of a stretch, to note that the United States has a glaring vital interest in Iraq not becoming a failed state.
    Yes, of course, launching this pointless war has greatly increased rather than diminished the likelihood of that coming to pass, but nevertheless, it seems pretty clear that the US has a national interest in that not happening.

    Reply

  46. Pissed Off American says:

    “We ought to round up everyone involved in this criminal enterprise and beam their public excutions around the world and then announce justice has been served and it’s over.”
    Posted by Carroll
    Actually, Carroll, such an action would probably be one of the only actions that could redeem us in the eyes of the world community. And I mean that in all sincerity. If, at the very least, we do not hold the key members of the Bush Administration accountable, than we are showing the entire world that we are not what we purport ourselves to be. I never thought that I would ever be so ashamed of my own government, or see the people of this nation be so complacent about the loss of our credibility and moral standing.

    Reply

  47. Carroll says:

    I am not a national security elite but I did sleep at the Ritz once and had high tea at Raffles several years ago.
    So let me say we have no vital interest in Iraq. Never did have any. Iraq was a brain fart of Bush/Cheney and the plan of the neocon PNAC and Israeli guys.
    How soon we forget the opening war cry in the early days….”REALIGN THE MID EAST”!
    HOWEVER the powers and potentates were pretty much arranged in the US pocket the way we wanted them anyway..only Israel had A LOT MORE to gain from Iraq, Iran and Syria disappearing into our pocket also. But Bush being Bush fell for the vision of himself as the leader of the “World Wide “Wur” on Terriers”.
    We ought to round up everyone involved in this criminal enterprise and beam their public excutions around the world and then announce justice has been served and it’s over.

    Reply

  48. John says:

    I agree with Selise. It’s time for the national security elites to be EXPLICIT about what our vital interests are in Iraq. No more wink, wink, nod, nod. Two reasons: First, it would help convince the doubters among us that the elites actually know what they’re talking about. Second, it would show that the elites are firmly grounded in reality. The American people have been sold a pack of lies about Iraq for the last five years (WMD, Al Qaeda/Saddam, terrorism, human rights, freedom, democracy). The elites need to get it through their thick little skulls that people didn’t elect a Democratic Congress because they wanted to be served more of the same crapola.
    In case the national security elites have trouble enumerating our vital interests in plain English, I suggest they start by referring to Antonia Juhasz’s latest piece. Is what’s good for Houston really good for America? http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/120806K.shtml

    Reply

  49. gq says:

    Should the “increased troop presence” include more U.S. troops or should the be from other countries? Not sure I understood what you meant by “de-flag…” If troops are to be from more than just the U.S., which countries should the be from and what is the probability that other countries would join in?
    BTW, I’m still waiting to hear about Wes Clark at the ASF. :o).

    Reply

  50. selise says:

    Marky at December 8, 2006 04:24 PM,
    i don’t disagree that this administration sees “having sole control over the security of the oil fields in the ME”… i just wonder if that’s what steve also thinks?

    Reply

  51. Homer says:

    Perhaps Iraq is already a vassal state of Iran.
    Remember: Iraq’s Shiites endured decades of brutal repression which the USA basically ignored.
    Adul Aziz al-Hakim, from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (sic!!!): “We have strong insistence to have strong relations with both the U.S. and Iran. We do have strong relations with Iran. Iran stood beside the Iraqi people for a quarter of a century, stood beside the Shiites, the Sunnis, the Kurds and even the Christians and whoever went there, they opened their doors and they supported the groups. This is why such behavior or positions could not be forgotten. The United States is a great country; they are also present in Iraq. We are demanding a real partnership and understanding and strong relations for the interests of the Iraqis.”
    Then there’s Al Maliki’s Al Dawa:
    To refresh your memory:
    Beirut Bombers Seen Front for Iranian-Supported Shiite Faction, The Washington Post, January 4, 1984
    The terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the bombing of the U.S. Marine compound and the French military headquarters here may be a front for an exiled Iraqi Shiite opposition party based in Iran, in the view of a number of Arab and western diplomatic sources.
    Authorities in Kuwait say their questioning of suspects in the recent bombing there of the U.S. and French embassies indicates a clear link between Islamic Jihad, a shadowy group that says it carried out the Beirut attacks, and Al Dawa Islamiyah, the main source of resistance to the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
    Al Dawa (The Call) has been outlawed in Iraq, where it wants to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state to replace the secular Baath Socialist government of Saddam Hussein, who is a Sunni Moslem.
    It draws its strength from the large Shiite population in southern Iraq. Thousands of its most militant members were expelled to Iran in 1980 before the outbreak of the Iranian-Iraqi war and joined Al Dawa there. But it also has a large following in Lebanon among Iraqi exiles and sympathetic Lebanese Shiites.
    While Al Dawa operates out of Tehran, it is not clear whether its activities abroad are under direct Iranian control or merely have Iran’s tacit acceptance.

    Reply

  52. Marky says:

    I recommend this post by emptywheel on ME scenarios.
    http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2006/12/40_oil.html

    Reply

  53. p.lukasiak says:

    Steve….can we assume that these were all pretty smart people, and when they said
    “Withdraw completely — or increase the troop presence under international colors two or three-fold. This is what Arab strategists recommend”
    they knew that option two was impossible — and were merely pointing out that the only rational course for the US is complete withdrawal?

    Reply

  54. Marky says:

    America’s interest is in having sole control over the security of the oil fields in the ME, with China and Russia both serious competitors.
    Nothing else matters to this administration, obviously.
    As a matter of Realpolitik, this is not bad thinking, but somehow turning Iraq into an abbatoir in the pursuit of this goal seems both counterproductive, and needless to say, criminal.

    Reply

  55. selise says:

    “None of the top tier strategists I met from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, or Egypt — none of them — thought that America could achieve its interests in Iraq with a smaller force.”
    steve – please tell us – what exactly do you think are america’s interests in iraq? what are the costs of these “interests”? can you justify them to us? to yourself?
    are you willing to be explicit?

    Reply

  56. p.lukasiak says:

    I personally think that the “Iraq as a base for al Qaeda” threat is a myth — the most likely consequence of a complete US withdrawal from Iraq would be (co-operative) intervention by Syria and Iran to bring stability back to the region — and we can expect both of those nations to be merciless in pursuit of any al Qaeda types that remain in Iraq once the US is gone.
    There are, however, two other regional powers that would have an interest in keeping al Qaeda in Iraq — the first is the Saudis. I think its safe to assume that lots of the “foreign al Qaeda fighters” in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia — and once the US leaves Iraq, they are going to want to go back home. Of course, the last thing that the Saudi royals want is a thousand or two radical islamists with extensive training and experience in terrorism and guerilla warfare returning home — especially since these radical islamists consider the Saudi Royal family to be corrupt and apostate.
    The second one of our “friends” who would be happy to see al Qaeda still in Iraq is Israel — when the Muslims in the region are fighting among themselves, they are far less likely to concern themselves with Israel.
    And IMHO, that is really why we don’t just “cut and run” — its that it becomes a “no win” situation for the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia — if stability is restored to Iraq through the efforts of Syria and Iran, the Saudi Royals wind up with a very serious al Qaeda problem of their own, Israel has the two most antagonistic regimes in the region strenghtened — and the US winds up with an impossible national security/foreign policy conundrum to deal with.

    Reply

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