Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The March of Freedom, part 1

Immediately after the invasion of Iraq, Iran was bandied about as a possible next stop on the freedom train. With plans now being laid to deal with this next imminent threat, and the armed forces's full strength committed to Iraq for the next two years, the only way to muster sufficient troop strength will be through a draft.
"Bush has asserted a right “to intervene in
the internal affairs of every nation on earth
and that is, quite simply, a recipe for endless war.
And war is the death of republics.”
- Pat Buchanan


Blogger Management said...

Hawks Set Sights on Iran, Syria as Baghdad Falls
by Arshad Mohammed

WASHINGTON - Emboldened by the U.S. military's apparent quick rout of Iraqi forces, conservative hawks in America are setting their sights on regime change in Iran and Syria.

"It's time to bring down the other terror masters," Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute wrote on Monday -- two days before U.S. troops swept into the heart of Baghdad -- in a piece entitled "Syria and Iran Must Get Their Turn."

"Iran, at least, offers Americans the possibility of a memorable victory, because the Iranian people openly loath the regime, and will enthusiastically combat it, if only the United States supports them in their just struggle," he added. "Syria cannot stand alone against a successful democratic revolution that topples tyrannical regimes in Kabul, Tehran and Iraq."

No one is explicitly advocating force against Syria or Iran but conservatives inside and out of the U.S. government hope the Iraq war will signal to Damascus and Tehran that seeking weapons of mass destruction may be hazardous to their health.

"I hope we could change the regimes without military force and I would not contemplate using military force in those places," said Kenneth Adelman, a former Pentagon aide and early advocate of toppling Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by force.

"The combination of totalitarianism and weapons of mass destruction is a deadly combination for the world," he added.

While some conservatives believe the example of Iraq could serve to undermine the governments of some of its nondemocratic neighbors, others simply hope it will dissuade them from seeking biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.


John Bolton, under secretary of state for arms control and international security, told reporters in Rome he hoped Iran, Syria and North Korea -- which the United States believes is pursuing a nuclear weapons program -- will get the message.

"We are hopeful that a number of regimes will draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq that the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is not in their national interest," he said, citing the three when asked what the post-war period may hold.

A U.S. official played down the idea that the United States was contemplating using force against Iran or Syria, suggesting the hawks were simply reflecting the "strategic ambiguity" that the U.S. has long practiced with potential adversaries.

"When talking about threats from countries that have really bad track records and don't wish you well, U.S. policy has been to never rule anything out," he said. "That doesn't mean you're actively contemplating an invasion or the use of force."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who on March 28 warned Syria and Iran not to meddle in the Iraq war, said on Wednesday the United States had evidence Damascus might be helping Saddam's relatives and supporters flee the country.

While he did not cite Syria or Iran by name, Vice President Dick Cheney said in a speech to newspaper editors that the United States must "do whatever it takes" to defeat terrorism and must confront nations that sponsor it.

The United States regards Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. U.S. officials believe both are pursuing weapons of mass destruction, accusing Iran of seeking nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program aims to produce electricity.

"In removing the terror regime from Iraq, we send a very clear message to all groups that operate by means of terror and violence against the innocent," Cheney said. "The United States and our coalition partners are showing ... we have the capacity and the will to wage war on terror and to win decisively."

"We have a further responsibility to help keep the peace of the world and to prevent the terrorists and their sponsors from plunging the world into horrific violence," he added.

Frank Gaffney, a senior Pentagon official under former President Ronald Reagan , said he believed that regime change should be the U.S. policy toward Iran and Syria and said the United States could not rule out the use of force.

"If the threat metastasizes in such a way that we consider it to leave us no choice but to use military force then that would have to be an option," he said.

Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy think tank, said many Iranians would like to see their government change and the United States should help them through information flows, economic assistance and possibly covert activity.

"The use of military force is probably genuinely the last resort here, but I certainly think it's like that we're going to see efforts made to bring about change in Iran as well as Syria ... and perhaps elsewhere in the region as a matter of the natural progression of this war on terror," he added.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Journalist: U.S. planning for possible attack on Iran
White House says report is 'riddled with inaccuracies'

Monday, January 17, 2005 Posted: 8:11 AM EST (1311 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration has been carrying out secret reconnaissance missions to learn about nuclear, chemical and missile sites in Iran in preparation for possible airstrikes there, journalist Seymour Hersh said Sunday.

The effort has been under way at least since last summer, Hersh said on CNN's "Late Edition."

In an interview on the same program, White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett said the story was "riddled with inaccuracies."

"I don't believe that some of the conclusions he's drawing are based on fact," Bartlett said.

Iran has refused to dismantle its nuclear program, which it insists is legal and is intended solely for civilian purposes. (Full story)

Hersh said U.S. officials were involved in "extensive planning" for a possible attack -- "much more than we know."

"The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids," he wrote in "The New Yorker" magazine, which published his article in editions that will be on newsstands Monday.

Hersh is a veteran journalist who was the first to write about many details of the abuses of prisoners Abu Ghraib in Baghdad.

He said his information on Iran came from "inside" sources who divulged it in the hope that publicity would force the administration to reconsider.

"I think that's one of the reasons some of the people on the inside talk to me," he said.

Hersh said the government did not answer his request for a response before the story's publication, and that his sources include people in government whose information has been reliable in the past.

Hersh said Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld view Bush's re-election as "a mandate to continue the war on terrorism," despite problems with the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Last week, the effort to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- the Bush administration's stated primary rationale for the war -- was halted after having come up empty.

The secret missions in Iran, Hersh said, have been authorized in order to prevent similar embarrassment in the event of military action there. (Full story)

"The planning for Iran is going ahead even though Iraq is a mess," Hersh said. "I think they really think there's a chance to do something in Iran, perhaps by summer, to get the intelligence on the sites."

He added, "The guys on the inside really want to do this."

Hersh identified those inside people as the "neoconservative" civilian leadership in the Pentagon. That includes Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith -- "the sort of war hawks that we talk about in connection with the war in Iraq."

And he said the preparation goes beyond contingency planning and includes detailed plans for air attacks:

"The next step is Iran. It's definitely there. They're definitely planning ... But they need the intelligence first."
Emphasizing 'diplomatic initiatives'

Bartlett said the United States is working with its European allies to help persuade Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons.

Asked if military action is an option should diplomacy fail, Bartlett said, "No president at any juncture in history has ever taken military options off the table."

But Bush "has shown that he believes we can emphasize the diplomatic initiatives that are under way right now," he said.

Hersh said U.S. officials believe that a U.S. attack on Iran might provoke an uprising by Iranians against the hard-line religious leaders who run the government. Similar arguments were made ahead of the invasion of Iraq, when administration officials predicted U.S. troops would be welcomed as liberators.

And Hersh said administration officials have chosen not to include conflicting points of view in their deliberations -- such as predictions that any U.S. attack would provoke a wave of nationalism that would unite Iranians against the United States.

"As people say to me, when it comes to meetings about this issue, if you don't drink the Kool-Aid, you can't go to meetings," he said. "That isn't a message anybody wants to hear."

The plans are not limited to Iran, he said.

"The president assigned a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other special forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as 10 nations in the Middle East and South Asia," he wrote.

Under the secret plans, the war on terrorism would be led by the Pentagon, and the power of the CIA would be reduced, Hersh wrote in his article.

"It's sort of a great victory for Donald Rumsfeld, a bureaucratic victory," Hersh told CNN.

He said: "Since the summer of 2002, he's been advocating, 'Let me run this war, not the CIA. We can do it better. We'll send our boys in. We don't have to tell their local military commanders. We don't have to tell the ambassadors. We don't have to tell the CIA station chiefs in various countries. Let's go in and work with the bad guys and see what we can find out.'"

Hersh added that the administration has chipped away at the CIA's power and that newly appointed CIA Director Porter Goss has overseen a purge of the old order.

"He's been committing sort-of ordered executions'" Hersh said. "He's been -- you know, people have been fired, they've been resigning."

The target of the housecleaning at the CIA, he said, has been intelligence analysts, some of whom are seen as "apostates -- as opposed to being true believers." (Full story)

7:52 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Cheney: Iran A Top Trouble Spot
WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2005

President Bush refuses to rule out war with Iran. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami says his country is ready to defend itself against a U.S. attack.

The United States is pushing for a peaceful solution to its nuclear impasse with Iran but, with mistrust on both sides running high, encouraging signs are hard to find.

"You look around the world at potential trouble spots, Iran is right at the top of the list," Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday in a radio interview, hours before he and Bush were sworn in to a second term.

Asked hypothetically whether the United States would yield to Israel in a scenario in which an attack against Tehran was being considered, he said, "One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked, that if in fact the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had a significant nuclear capability, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of the state of Israel, that the Israelis might well decide to act first and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterward."

"We don't want a war in the Middle East if we can avoid it," Cheney quickly added, "and certainly, in the case of the Iranian situation, I think everybody would best suited by, and or best treated or dealt with, if we could deal with it diplomatically."

On Monday, Bush reaffirmed his support for a diplomatic settlement of Iran's nuclear program but said, "I will never take any option off the table."

Perhaps the most pessimistic comment of all this week came from Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden.

"There may be nothing we can do to persuade Iran not to develop weapons of mass destruction," Biden said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing for Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice.

Both Rice and Cheney made clear that the nuclear diplomacy the United States has been pursuing in the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency will continue.

They said the administration could raise the stakes with Iran by referring the nuclear question to the U.N. Security Council if Iran does not abide by its nonproliferation commitments.

The administration has been hopeful that a nonproliferation initiative being carried out with Iran by Germany, France and Britain will produce results.

But the administration is skeptical that Iran is bargaining in good faith. For its part, Iran says its nuclear program is aimed at producing energy, not weapons.

Rice said U.S. differences with Iran go well beyond its nuclear program.

"It's really hard to find common ground with a government that thinks Israel should be extinguished," she told senators. "It's difficult to find common ground with a government that is supporting Hezbollah and terrorist organizations that are determined to undermine the Middle East peace that we seek."

Beyond that, Rice listed Iran among six "outposts of tyranny."

Khatami, traveling Thursday in Africa, seemed unconcerned about the consequences of a possible U.S. attack.

"We have prepared ourselves," he said. He added that he did not anticipate any "lunatic" military move by the United States because Washington has too many problems in Iraq.

According to an article by Seymour Hersh published this week in The New Yorker, U.S. officials have been trying to get to the bottom of Iran's nuclear puzzle through a covert operation inside Iran that has been under way since last summer.

Defense Department officials said the article was filled with mistakes but did not deny its basic point.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Iraq Notebook
U.S. troop level likely at 120,000 for 2 years

WASHINGTON — The Army is now planning to keep at least 120,000 soldiers in Iraq for the next two years to train and fight with Iraqi forces against insurgents, a senior Army general said yesterday.

"We are planning for what's the most probable case. A worst-case [scenario] would be a lot more" Army troops, said Lt. Gen. James Lovelace, Army deputy chief of staff for operations.

Lovelace stressed, however, that the number of Army troops in Iraq could fall depending on the effectiveness of more-intense U.S. training of the Iraqis.

If the Army does not cut its force in the months ahead, it is unlikely that the U.S. military can reduce its overall presence from 150,000 to 138,000 by the middle of this year, as originally planned.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Management said...

P-I Focus: The road to a draft goes through an unwilling Army

Sunday, January 23, 2005


If you're the U.S. Army, how do you say, "Hell No, We Won't Go?"

By proclaiming, loud, clear and often, your opposition to the draft.

Put bluntly: The U.S. Army has no desire to be large enough to implement the Bush/neocon agenda of "cauldronizing the Middle East" or anywhere else, and it will oppose by every means at its disposal, any attempt to so enlarge it.

And it is right to do so -- militarily, politically and morally.

According to an oft-documented Vietnam legend, an anonymous Army general vowed: "I'll be damned if I permit the United States Army, its institutions, its doctrine, and its traditions, to be destroyed just to win this lousy war." In Iraq, the destruction is already well under way. But if the Army is not prepared to lose in Iraq to save itself, it is ready to remain a force that cannot prevail there, let alone invade anywhere else.

Ever since the Iraq venture demonstrated, once again, that people don't always love us the way some ideologues think they should, the issue of conscription will not go away. No one wants it, aside from a few advocates of establishing a massive federal teenager-herding bureaucracy ("national service") and vaporous pundits fretting over inequality of sacrifice (while rarely addressing why anybody should be sacrificing anything, much less volunteering their own children as sacrifices).

Throughout the 2004 election, candidates of all persuasions vehemently proclaimed their opposition. The House of Representatives ostentatiously called a dead national service bill (with military and non-military "options") out of committee expressly to vote it down. Meanwhile, the Selective Service System has simply gone about the business of staffing up thousands of local boards and appeals panels, against the day it penetrates the national skull that Iraq has wrecked the U.S. Army.

Today, nine of 10 regular Army divisions are either in Iraq and Afghanistan or back and preparing for the next deployment. During fiscal year 2004, 19,301 regular soldiers were kept on active duty involuntarily, some up to 18 months past their contractual obligations through "stop-loss" orders. As of Dec. 15, 185,732 Reservists and National Guardsmen from all services are currently mobilized. They are the tip of the iceberg: As of Sept. 30, 247,181 reservists and guardsmen have been deployed in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom; 90,041 of those troops more than once. These figures do not include temporary duty, which can last for up to three months, overseas.

This misuse and overuse, which in truth began under President Clinton, has produced a situation in which mass exodus is at the very least conceivable within a year. And so the Army's latest recruiting slogan, "An Army of One," has been morphed by the troops into: "Soon as I get out, I'll Be An Army of One."

But if the Army is approaching implosion, and knows it, then why the opposition to conscription? There are a half-dozen reasons. Two are idiotic. Two make sense. And two are profoundly, profoundly moral.

The first non-reason is that unwilling conscripts can't be trusted in combat. But as an adage accurately puts it, "The Army never forces anyone to fight. They just put you down in the middle of a war and let you make up your own mind."

The second non-reason holds that war and occupation duty have gotten so complex that conscripts can't master the necessary skills in the time available. Conscripts can be as well or as poorly trained as volunteers, and a year of serious training produces a soldier capable of effective deployment. The real skill shortages develop at midlevel, among the true professionals, while entry level is entry level, no matter how you got there.

Beyond this, the Army rightly fears the effect of unpopular conscription on its "civil-military relations" and the military's place in society. It also doesn't care to get dragged into endless litigation. Were conscription reinstituted tomorrow, it would be years of misery before the service derived any benefit.

Yet another valid objection is money. People cost. So does everything else. You can't stop paying your soldiers or funding your wars. But you can stop or slow everything else. The Clinton administration reprogrammed tens of billions to pay for Balkan operations. It's happening again in Iraq. Further, in 2001 the administration eschewed a Reagan-style bow wave of Army spending in favor of studying transformation before committing to specific programs. The fiscal year 2005 defense budget, including supplementals, will surpass $500 billion while the administration is cutting furiously. The bow wave never happened. The transformation window has closed. And the Army sees its future slipping away.

The intensifying personnel crunch, plus the unique requirements of occupation duty, has forced the Army into something it swore it would never do: send women into combat as combatants. The "ground combat exclusion rule" has eroded to the point where the Army is considering de facto abolition. As for the gay ban, half of junior enlisted service members think openly gay people should be allowed to serve, yet 787 troops were discharged for homosexual conduct in fiscal year 2003. Between 1998 and 2003, hundreds of combat soldiers, nearly 200 MPs and more than a dozen linguists have been discharged. Younger officers and troops, accustomed from birth to tolerance and equality, find both policies bizarre as well as cruel. Thoughtful senior officers appear content to let the results of women's service and "don't ask, don't tell" speak for themselves.

The final reason the Army does not want a draft is a profound lesson it learned in Vietnam. You cannot use draftees to fight long, cold-blooded policy wars. Quick, permanently decisive, wars may be dangerous illusion, but short or long, if you use draftees and part-time soldiers to fight wars, they had better be hot-blooded wars in which the nation's passions are decisively engaged.

The Army knows that the war in Iraq is a war of choice fought to enforce a policy of democratizing the Middle East. It also knows utterly inadequate strategy when it sees it.

Pacifying Iraq requires securing its borders and controlling cash and information flow into and out of the country. It requires co-opting local elites and enlisting their cooperation against a common enemy in order to create reasonably loyal auxiliary troops. It also requires making examples, if not of those who refuse to cooperate, then of those who actively resist the occupation. All of this requires a lot of troops.

In February 2003, the former chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be needed to occupy Iraq. Shinseki wasn't wrong: 300,000 U.S. soldiers, twice the current deployment, is a barely adequate minimum. But the Army's end strength for fiscal year 2005 is 482,400 soldiers, with only another 20,000 authorized. Rather, Shinseki had publicly made clear that only a draft will generate enough soldiers to effectively occupy Iraq.

Indeed, a draft could generate so many soldiers that the Bush administration and its neocon ideologues might feel able to invade, conquer and occupy Iran and Syria, presumably to turn them, too, into democratic countries. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has so staunchly opposed a draft that neocon field marshal Bill Kristol has called, once again, for his resignation in the Weekly Standard.

Islamic fundamentalism certainly poses a significant and growing threat to the United States but it is a very diffuse threat. The Army still wants, desperately, to transform into a force that combines expeditionary mobility, enormous firepower, and aggressive spirit: capable of stopping even nuclear powers such as North Korea or Pakistan fast and very hard. The Army is unwilling to permit itself to be restructured as a large draftee force suited for conquest, occupation and forcing people to be free. To preserve a structure capable of dealing with the diffuse threats that actually face this nation, the Army finds itself bleeding in a thousand engagements in Iraq. It wins each engagement individually but collectively those victories mean nothing because they cannot be translated into permanent political success.

As in Vietnam, you control the ground you stand on but only so long as you stand there.

The Army does not seek defeat in Iraq: Defeat is abhorrent and no one wants to be maimed or killed for nothing. By all accounts, the performance of the troops has been superb but discipline and courage are not, and cannot replace, good strategy.

The Army knows victory in Iraq will leave America bankrupted and defenseless, and it dreads for the nation to pay such a price. Or as the Greek king Pyrrhus said, contemplating the losses his people had suffered to defeat the Roman Army a second time, "One more such victory, and we are undone."

This is the essence of tragedy.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Management said...

‘God-drenched’ pledges of the president split Republicans
Tony Allen-Mills
PRESIDENT George Bush’s bold inauguration vow to end tyranny around the world does not amount to a “right turn” or signal dramatic changes in US foreign policy, according to senior administration officials.

Startled by reaction to what one well-known Republican described as the president’s “God-drenched” speech, the White House has discouraged speculation that Bush is embarking on a crusade to spread democracy around the globe.

In a series of briefings, officials spoke of an acceleration of existing strategy and portrayed the speech as a “rhetorical institutionalisation” of the anti-terrorist policies the administration has been pursuing in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Bush was widely seen as attempting to emulate the former presidents Woodrow Wilson and John F Kennedy by using his inauguration to articulate sweeping American ideals.

Officials insisted there were no plans for a tough new approach to countries such as Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, all of which have co-operated on the war against terrorism, but none of which is unswervingly committed to US-style democratic ideals.

“The speech was carefully and purposely nuanced,” said Michael Gerson, the chief presidential speechwriter, who went through at least 20 drafts after Bush told his advisers he wanted to talk about “freedom”. “We are dealing with a generational struggle,” added Gerson. “It’s not the work of a year or two.”

The high-flown language used by Bush, notably his commitment to “the great objective of ending tyranny”, thrilled his neoconservative supporters, some of whom had worried that difficulties in Iraq might curb the president’s enthusiasm for promoting democracy abroad.

“It was a rare inaugural speech that will go down as a historic speech, I believe,” said Bill Kristol, one of several neoconservative thinkers who were consulted by the White House before the speech was written.

Other conservative Republicans were dismayed by the president’s missionary zeal. Peggy Noonan, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, found the oratory “somewhere between dreamy and disturbing”.

Noting that Bush had declared himself “ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom”, she pondered in The Wall Street Journal whether the White House was suffering from “mission inebriation”. Noonan added: “One wonders if they shouldn’t ease up, calm down, breathe deep, get more securely grounded. The most moving speeches summon us to the cause of what is actually possible. Perfection in the life of man on earth is not.”

Patrick Buchanan, the former right-wing presidential candidate, said Bush had asserted a right “to intervene in the internal affairs of every nation on earth and that is, quite simply, a recipe for endless war. And war is the death of republics.”

There was also scepticism in the Arab world, where commentators contrasted Bush’s emphasis on moral values with US support for undemocratic regimes that furthered its interests.

White House officials said Washington would not jeopardise important relationships by seeking to impose democratic demands on countries with different systems. “The president’s goals are deeply idealistic,” said Gerson. “But his methods are deeply realistic.”

Bush is expected to turn to more practical matters in his state of the union address next month. Many Republicans were surprised he devoted so little attention last week to the urgent domestic challenges that await.

Tyranny may have to wait as the president outlines his policies on mundane matters such as pensions and tax reform. “This world is not heaven,” noted Noonan. “It’s earth.”

8:11 PM  

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