– The ongoing hagiology developing around the death of Michael Jackson threatens to engulf the earth. What's next, a national holiday, a state funeral with Jackson's flag draped casket carried up the stairs into the capitol rotunda by soldiers just back from the wars? The 24/7 news are whirling like dervishes in their role as national mourners. Is NAMBLA going to have a memorial "float" in the Los Angeles spectacular for Jackson?
– Then there is Sarah Palin… William Kristol can spin as hard as he will but she just plain quit. The whole thing was too tough an experience for her. On "Fox News sunday" (FNS) today, Kristol's "familiar" Stephen Hayes, parted company with Kristol over Palin. Hayes pronounced her dead meat (paraphrasing) on the political stage. The Country Wing of the Republican Party respects strength. Contrary to much opinion on the Left and Right coasts of the United States, the people in "flyover" America (Palin country) are quite willing to vote for a woman. They are as willing to do that as many of them were to vote for Barack Obama. This does not mean that they are prepared to vote for for a weakling.
– Just beneath the surface there is a turf fire smouldering in Washington over strategy in the two wars. On the one hand the neoconistas in exile are log rolling for acceptance by Obama of their continuing vision of onrushing (their view) social revolution in the Islamic World brought on by the use of massive American military force, first in Iraq and now in the war yet to be in Afghanistan. They clearly think, or wish to think, that they were right all the time and that the "Surge" in numbers of American troops in Iraq and the resurrection of the old, old doctrine of counterinsurgency re-established their "timeline" for triumphal change. Ah CHANGE! Oh blessed word! In truth, the main factor in bringing about a reduction in Sunni zealot violence in Iraq was American success in splitting off most of the Sunni Arab insurgents from support of Al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Money, money and more money as well as a sympathetic attitude resulted in a successful rental of many of these groups. THEY shut down al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Now, our rentals know that we are leaving. They know that their paychecks are increasingly going to be in the hands of the Shia dominated government that the US is leaving behind. That government is sending the Sunni Arabs mixed signals as to what its attitudes and policies will be. So, the Sunni Arabs are sending the Shia government signals as well. That is how things are done in the Middle East. Are our rentals participating in the recent attacks? Probably not, not yet. What they are doing, thus far, is looking the other way. In Afghanistan, the neocon types want a war that reproduces what they imagine happend in Iraq. They want a lot more US troops. They want a combined military/civilian presence that reaches all significant population centers in the country. They want an open ended commitment to nation building in a country that possesses very little human or physical infrastructure. They want to create an Afghanistan so prosperous, unified and "progressive" that it will automatically reject violent Islamic zealotry. Could such a thing be done? Maybe, but the bill both at the butcher shop and at the treasury would be stunning, perhaps lethal for the United States. On the other hand, Obama's actual policy in Afghanistan seems to be true to his public statements. According to those statements there will not be many more troops for Afghanistan than the 70,000. Our focus will be on disruption of our real enemies and the goal will be to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of Obama's term leaving behind USAID and a military training group. No nation building will occur except as part of an international consortium. Will there be more "rentals," this time in Afghniatan? I cetainly hope there will be more rentals. This strategy is not welcome to the more agressive generals and is anathema to the neocons. In response the neocons are seeking to establish their version of "what Obama said" as reality. They are doing it in all the media. The man in the middle in all this is General Jones, the national security adviser. It has been decided by the neocons that Jones is a problem and that he must go. To that end he is being portrayed by them in the media as a loser who should be removed. I doubt if Obama is dumb enough to accept that judgment.
– Admiral Mullen the Chairman of the JCS was on the Sunday Newsies today. He has problems. He does not seem to accept the fact that he is not in the chain of command. Under the Goldwater-Nichols Law the chain of command runs from the President of the United States to the Secretary of Defense to the combatant commanders and other unified or specified comanders. The Chairman of the JCS is an adviser and staff offcer. The troops are not "his troops" as he often says. They are the president's troops. HE is commander in chief. Nevertheless, Admiral Mullen holds a grand office and is the most senior officer of the armed forces. On both FNS and on CNN today he was badgerd with questions that were altogether policy questions involving national strategy nd policy. Deciding such matters is not his job. It is the president's job. The president should be battered in the search for answers, not Admiral Mullen. On CNN, John King stood Admiral Mullen in front of an electronic map like a second lieutenant giving a briefing while King grilled him from some distant place. Is this not disrespect to the armed forces? Is there no one left in this country who has any sense of what "appropriate" means?
– The head of the Statue of Liberty re-opened yesterday for visitors. Good. pl