5 PM hour with Wolf Blitzer. pl
Here is the video of the interview, thanks to one of you. pl
Would you care to give us a hint as to your topic?
My son has remote control “control” this weekend with the US Open. So I’ll catch it later. One favour, ask Wolf a question like, “What do really think?”
Topic: “The Middle East on fire.” pl
Excellent! Will be watching.
I am amazed at how the US and Israeli intelligence community got caught off-guard by the events in Gaza (see my blog entires http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2007/06/will-israelis-invade-gaza.html and http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2007/06/panic-seizes-clueless-imperial-leaders.html ).
I wonder what your evaluation is of what appears to be another major intelligence FUBAR.
Thank you for the heads’ up, sir.
Knock’em dead, sir!
The Hamas-Fatah swing fest has been a’brewin since Hamas stood up. While some of the Hamas juice undoubtedly comes from outside assistance, a large share is merely the deep disgust within the Palestinian population—particularly the disenfranchised youth—for the legacy of and empty promises by Fatah. Fatah has delivered nothing on their pledges to better the lives of the people, and has rather unabashedly continued the corrupt policies of Arafat. I empathize with the Hamas repudiation and, if I lived in Gaza, probably would be predisposed to lift arms against Fatah too.
As a UN military observer on three tours over a ten year period I remember walking thru the camps in South Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank and around Beirut’s southern environs and seeing Fatah’s two-faced policy in action. People lived in bleak cinder block hovels. Raw sewage ran in the streets. I was told the Fatah strictly prohibited any improvements to these shanty slums as to maintain the visuals of ‘the camp’ being a temporary living arrangement vice the permanent village that it really was. People were forbidden to paint their houses, plant a garden, or improve their lots so as to be ready at a moments notice to return to their homes in downtown Haifa or Tel Aviv from which they were displaced 40 plus years before. It was a perpetual sham and to the lasting discredit of Fatah. Fatah has done little or nothing ever to truly improve the lot of the Palestinian people and now faces the fire from the next generation who won’t sit quietly for what went before. Unfortunately there no true beneficiaries from the current Palestinian dust-up. While I am not sorry to see Fatah get rocked, I am very worried about what may or likely will follow.
Why is the Middle East in flames?
Mankind evolved within endless tribal warfare. It is hardwired in the male psychic to fight to gain the status and resources to reproduce. If there are an excess of males without families, violence is inevitable: i.e. Somalia and Lebanon. That’s a lot of trash fires.
If two tribes or peoples are contesting for the same land, war ensues until one prevails: Anglos Saxons and the Celts, Europeans and Native Aborigines, Vietnamese and the Khmer or Nungs. Jews and Arabs; that is a white hot fire.
If one state invades another, a fruitless war is enviable if overwhelming force is not available to conquer the invaded homeland; that is the bonfire of Afghanistan.
Then there is colonial war to keep control of a valued resource; Iraq. That’s an oil fire.
If the US pulled out of the Middle East and the Palestine land issue was resolved, the only conflicts would be regional arising from overpopulation and limited resources. Barbarians crashing through the Gates of Western Civilization is simply propaganda. The re-engineering of transportation system out of petroleum energy since the USA would no longer control oil supplies however would lead to turmoil.
Then there is the problem of non-state nuclear weapons. Allies cooperating and the rule of law are more likely to defer a detonation in a Western city than torturing and killing every radical Muslim in the world; an unprofitable enterprise that only breeds more and blows the flames of hatred hotter.
Topic: “The Middle East on fire.”
What? No Paris Hilton?
PL, just to take up a point that you constantly dismiss.
Iraq has huge, untapped reserves of the the kind of high quality oil that we have grown used to but that is going to be in short supply. It is cheap to extract and to refine, unlike, for example, tar sands which optimists hope will keep the empire rolling for a few more decades. The next generation will be scraping the barrel.
The oil in Iraq is a stupendous treasure.
Perhaps the generous dusting of Iraq with “depleted” uranium is also in line with their strategy of weakening the natives.
Incompetence is a great excuse.
Lifted from here.
someone pointed out a curious statement at the end of a story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer….
Abu Obeideh, spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, said his men relied on mortars because they could fire them from inside their bases. He added, however, that they now had access to more advanced weaponry they had confiscated from seized compounds.
“Weapons that we have never seen in our lives before,” he said.
Any idea what they might be?
I am not sure that this was an “intelligence failure.” Are you sure that it was not a failure on the part of the policy people?
To know if it was an intelligence failure you would have to know if the policy people were correctly informed by the intelligence people as to the situation on the ground before the policy people made whatever decision it was they made, like “Hamas is absolutely evil and we will seek to undermine them.” That would be a policy decision.
Get it? You can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink. pl
What “non-state nuclear weapons?”
probably the APC’s that fatah had and maybe some advance ATGM’s but probably just the APC’s.
I don’t mind if all you economic determinists want to have a different opinion than I do about the governing character of Iraqi oil and gas. That’s fine. What I do not like are your attempts to lecture me on the nature of Middle Eastern and world petroleum resources and the oil markets. I ran a big piece of the US government analysis of this subject for many years. The marxists who write insultingly about this are engaged in anti-capitalist agitprop on this subject and I understand that they are just silly, but the sensible people like VV and CP worry me.
Oil is a fungible commodity. Every barrel in the world markets, whether it got there through long term contracts between states, para-statals, etc., or in short term trading in what is left over in the spot market, directly affects the price.
All of you neo-mercantilists who want to believe that you have to sit on oil to benefit from its production and sale are just wrong.
Think about how much our presence in Iraq is depressing production and export into the fungible oil market. Think about it. The big guys whom you hate so much all understand that. They know that there would be more Iraqi oil in the world market if we were not there. They also know that our machinations against the Iraqi government since the first Gule War have consistently depressed the amount of Iraqi oil in the world markets and therefore raised the price of this commodity to the detriment of big business. They also know that with the exception of the failed oil embargo of the early ’70s it is clear that those who have crude, sell crude into the world markets. They do not impound it for political reasons.
Lastly, I know the people who made the decision to go to war in Iraq. This was not about oil. pl
Excellent,sir. I recall your mention here at SST when Hamas’ offered a hudna.
Would you consider a piece on Krak des Chevaliers,if not here – perhaps at the Athenaeum?
Are you saying that you have or wish to write one? pl
No sir. I was respectully hoping you might consider a piece on the subject. Its always fascinated me and I have a semi decent, basic, general knowledge of the subject. I know it was manned by the Templars and Hospitalers at various times. And that meant highly skilled, elite and experienced knights and men at arms. Which I believe was not always the case for those that embarked upon the Holy Land. I’m also aware of the strategic location, design and thickness of the walls, the towers, size, storage facilities, etc. but what of interacting with the local populace? And if so, wouldn’t there had to have been some kind of truce at various times? Or was it like its fellow powerful castles on the continent, extorting and demanding fealty militarily? The fact that it sustained so long, (when others in the Crusader kingdom fell) through various crusades until the final seige/surrender is fascinating. I know nothing of the intrigues and can’t seem to find much on who the non military inhabitants were. In the end, were there survivors? I know your time is very valuable, Col. Lang, but obviously I and I’m sure others would love to read anything you might write on the subject.
. . . and they had you stand all the time?
Excellent. I also appreciated your allusion to hudna with Wolf. It was perfectly consistent with your thoughts in recent posts about engaging certain parties for an indetermined length of time. Doesn’t have to be marriage; we can just date.
Alas, listening to the neo-cons talk of people in the ME as either western leaning or evil, I remember the Mexican father in McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses shaking his head in confusion at the American who took a bat to a stalled car he thought “evil.” Reification is for simple minds.
No chairs on Wolf’s set?
Good segment, but why no word on weapons delivered to Fatah by the U.S. (through Egypt and Jordan)?
(BTW, looking at a map, can anyone explain to me how Iran or Syria are supposed to deliver weapons to Hamas???)
Pat – Iraq and oil:
– If the main Iraqi produce were peanuts would the US have invaded?
– High oil prices by controlling, i.e. holding back, oil from the market is very, very profitable for the oil companies (and Cheney).
If the sanctions would have been lifted, Saddam would have flooded the oil markets depressing prices.
There is more economic interest (profit) in keeping oil rare than in gushing it on the markets.
– Oil was certainly not the only reason to attack Iraq, but without oil interest the attack would likely not have happened.
Yes. They would have invaded an Iraq rich in peanuts.
You have defined the capitalist interests of the United States as being a conspiracy of the oil companies with Cheney. I think that is far too narrow. the Republican establishment is wedded to the business community writ large, not just the oil companies.
We were very pressed for time in that segment and the first responsibility of any “guest” is to answer the questions. There were a lot of additional things that I would have liked to comment on but there was not time.
In regard to delivery of weapons, all things are possible to those who have a coast line and a long experience of smuggling.
Someone made a prefreence to PNAC’s intentions stated as early as the mid-90s. This was in reference to the bases. One should not assume that because this group hoped to do something, that they had enough “clout” to assure the ability to do it in the early stages of the war. This is a dynamic process. pl
I will start a thread on TA about Krak des Chevaliers or Qala’at al-Husn. pl
looks like the bushie strategy
‘strengthen fatah” & weaken “demicratically elected” hamas
as well as facilitate the “bush roadmap” for peace
has gone the way of so much that the bushies undertake
these guys do not seem to be able to do do anything right
they like to talk about being a superpower
they spend so much of our national reputation resources for little to no national benefit
it is embarassing to be associated with such systematic failure
and dangerous enough to bring kissinger, snowcroft and brzezinski toether on the charlie rose show to agree that a different international strategy is needed
B – There is no conspiracy to keep Iraq in turmoil to keep the prices of oil high. There was an article in Harper’s some years back where it said that the neo-cons were actually hoping to do just what you said – have Iraq flood the oil market and depress prices, smashing OPEC (a neacon bugbear).
Another question to ask yourself – where’s the oil in Cuba? Nicaragua? I’m sure that oil creates an increased interest for the administration in the region, but that’s different from any specific interest in controlling Iraq’s oil.
Col. Lang – I recall the New York Times article as well, along with the US drawdown of forces in Saudi Arabia and the quick contruction of bases that were meant to last (while it was assumed that the troops wouldn’t be needed for more than a few months). Taking into account what the neocons believed the result in Iraq to be (a quick change to a secualr, pro-west government), would it not make sense that they would also assume that their military bases would be welcome with open arms, and would be useful for force protection into the middle east (especially against Iran and Syria, who were being fingered right after the invasion). This also connects well with Rumsfield’s “leap-frog base” strategy, of ringing the world with bases to project US power, as well as his post-cold war base re-alignment ideas.
Kerry even brought up the fact that the bases seemed permanent in 2004.
This seems to me to align with the words (NY Times article, things that Wolfowitz said), as well as actions (the building of bases meant for the long haul even before the administration realized there would be any post-invasion conflict), and ideology (both in the restructuring of base locations, desire to project power, and assumptions that the Iraqi government would be pro-US) of many of the war’s architects.
It seems to me (and seemed to me early on) that those in power were always working on the assumption that the bases would be permanent. Am I missing something/interpreting something incorrectly?
I understand and appreciate what you are saying about oil. However, I think there is more to the topic.
“All of you neo-mercantilists who want to believe that you have to sit on oil to benefit from its production and sale are just wrong.”
As we are all well aware, demand for oil is increasing and will continue to increase; what with India, China and other populous countries becoming more industrialized and wealthier.
Is there not a fear that at some point the demand will outpace the supply – that the supply might even dry up? Would the US not desire to be able to control – by force of arms if necessary – who obtains the final contracts for the final barrels of oil? At that point – maybe in the not too distant future – physically sitting (or having one’s proxy doing the sitting) on the oil is the only way to ensure that one will benefit from its production.
“One should not assume that because this group [PNAC] hoped to do something, that they had enough “clout” to assure the ability to do it in the early stages of the war. This is a dynamic process.” pl
I’m not sure what you mean by this statement. PNAC came into their “clout” because one of their own, Cheney, starting running the executive branch of the government. They inserted their ideology into the head of the Commander in Chief, and the rest is history. I agree with you their sunny prognostications about the oil was a secondary consideration.
“Khalid Mish`al today responded to that allegation in his press conference by denying that Hamas plans to impose a religious order. Don’t get me wrong: both Hamas and Hizbullah tried to do that in years past before they realized that they can’t continue to grow if they did not change. Neither the Lebanese nor the Palestinians would put up with a religious order.
Both are sinful people, thankfully.”
what is your take on the big three post-iraq fears
• Regional War
• Al Qaeda Safe Havens:
• sunni-kurd-shia battle for power
you may not agree that these are the big three post iraq questions
please substitute your own
Col, I appreciate your oracular approach to explaining the motives behind the War in Iraq, and US involvement in the region, and I personally believe that a variety of motives and interests were, and still are, behind the war effort.
Regarding oil, I believe that the desire for Absolute Control (Chomsky’s Hegemony) has led to counter-productive events inside Iraq regarding oil; after years of underhanded tricks and shady dealings in the region, the major players are unable (or unwilling) to compete with the Russians, Chinese, etc., and are seeking a win by any means necessary. This attitude is best expressed by the famous line from the film Syriana, ‘Corruption is why we win!’
When I first heard Krak des Chevaliers mentioned here, I thought it was a catchy name for the new US Embassy; ) I think if one plays Kremlinologist going back a bit, the way that Bush was shushed for mentioning a ‘new Crusade,’ I think this is exactly what has been going on, and would account for a lot of what the Col. sees as motivations in the region. The parallel to the original Crusades is highly congruent, in both situation and motives, imo.
Colonel, you’re in the same fix as the retired NASA engineer who investigated the Hindenburg disaster and wound up challenging the myth that it “had to be the hydrogen” as the cause of the fire.
All of the witnesses reported that the fire was reddish-yellow, not the blue flame produced by hydrogen. The researcher discovered that the skin of the dirigible had been painted with a reflective coating that was the same formula as solid rocket fuel. When the rope was dropped for docking static electricity was discharged harmlessly from most, but not all of the skin panels. One of them caught on fire and it spread rapidly along the skin, until the hydrogen cells caught, fuelling the fire. If the Hindenburg had used nonflammable helium the result would have been much the same. A secret investigation by the Zeppelin Company came to the same conclusion, he was pleased to discover.
But the researcher found that the belief system that since hydrogen was used the fire had to have started there was too strong for many people to listen to the facts. In both cases the hydrogen/oil seems to have a mesmerizing effect upon people to the extent that, “It HAD to be about the hydrogen/oil simply because it was there!” It’s a belief system that they simply take on faith.
he does stand up mostly, pl
cheney’s power was not and is not absolute. pl
• Regional War – Possible
• Al Qaeda Safe Havens – Certain
• sunni-kurd-shia battle for power – Absolutely certain. pl
Thank you for your confidence in my Delphic qualities.
“the famous line from the film Syriana, ‘Corruption is why we win!'” My God. don’t quote that awful movie!. Even bob Baer thnks it is foolish. Anyone who thinks the US would assasinatate a UAE prince who is reform minded just doesn’t get out of the library enough. pl
I don’t see how there could ever be a safer haven in Iraq for “al-Qaida” than there is now. As soon as we pull out AQ will turn on anyone that doesn’t submit to them and every faction will turn against them, as is already taking place even while infidels remain on Iraqi soil. Without an external enemy to focus on, what’s to stop the tribes and the Ba’athists and the nationalists, and the non-AQ Islamists from tearing the “Islamic State of Iraq” to shreds? This isn’t even to mention the Kurdish or the Shia factions that would make Baghdad and any ethnic/religious border areas anything but safe.
I’d say a truth and reconciliation committee is more likely than an AQ safe haven.
As for the interview, I agreed with everything you said and I was pleased that those ideas were able to reach a wide audience through CNN. I also was disappointed that they didn’t give you more time to flesh things out and express some of the ideas mentioned in detail on this blog.
It’s fine saying that “they know there’d be more oil on the market if we weren’t there”. But they didn’t expect what happened when we went in — they were expecting a nice pleasant US-friendly government giving them a secure environment to start pumping oil via PSAs. The region contains two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves and control of it has been the main aim of US policy in the region for half a century now. We didn’t change policy just when oil became more important than ever.
If this war is not about oil, then the burden of proof is on those that started it. The entire secret nature of Cheney’s Energy Task force and the ensuing court battle leaves them looking suspicious. The task force was created by executuve order on 1-29-2001. Cheney was made the head of the task force. Until this Administration can prove otherwise, I for one will not believe this war is not about oil. This Administration has proven time and time again that they are dishonest and can not be trusted. Dick Cheney promised us that we would be greeted as liberators, and that by 2006-7 between 4-6MBD would be flowing from Iraq. If any one cares to look, they will find that the worlds leading oil companies are desperately looking for additional reserves. These companies are desperately waiting for the oil law to pass in order for the bidding to begin. They need to book these reserves ASAP. I think Cheney will go down in history as one of the biggest corporate losers of all time. Cheney completely miscalculated the difficulties of occupying and looting Iraq. The arogant fool thought it would be easy. Many good men have died and suffered for this jerk.
Once we begin suffering energy shocks in the US, the truth of this war will become apparent.
Steve and Purple Afghan
– What is the proof that supports your assertions that the war was motivated by a desire to “possess” the oil of Iraq. That is actually a very old fashioned marxist, anti-colonial argument. You want to believe in victmiization and exploitation. Nothing supports that argument except your apparent fervor of belief. There is no causative connection apparent in your argument. You simply want to believe that the war is about oil. The region (the ME?) contains a high percentage of the world’s proven oil reserves. So what? That does not mean that you have to sit on it to control it. you can do that in much more subtle ways.
– Most of the other “oilies” argue that the oil potentates wanted/want to shut in the oil to keep the price up. you argue that a desired outcome of the invasion was to have the oil flow freely in the world market to benefit business generally. I agree with you. pl
“Until this Administration can prove otherwise, I for one will not believe this war is not about oil.”
I hate to sound like a Vulcan (the Mr. Spock kind) but your statement is illogical. You can not expect people to disprove your unsupported beliefs. If you are wrong, they can not prove a negative, anymore than Saddam could prove that he did not have WMD. pl
. That is actually a very old fashioned marxist, anti-colonial argument.
Actually the correct Marxist position would be the following. Clearly a capitalist country cannot control the means of production in Iraq, if it did it wouldn’t be capitalist. Besides, to whom would it sell the oil? Rather it wants very much to have the means of production de-centralized, placed in private hands in order to create the movement of wealth into the hands of average Iraqis in order for them to buy the surplus production of industrialized Western countries. Iraq produces nothing except oil and its corresponding wealth. Excess capital gained from petroluem will not be used to the cell phones, satellite dishes, televisions and cars of the Western world. Quick, name one industrial export of any petroleum exporting state (minus Russia).
It isn’t about oil, it’s about the wealth that comes from oil. Macauley, Conant and even Lenin (the anti-colonial argument) understood that. A functional Iraq with a per capita income of, say, $25,000, and zero industrial production is Western capitalist nirvana. To pretend otherwise is naive.
I agree with Col. Lang in that the motivation for the war was not mainly about oil, but the occupation certainly is. Why this distinction is not made is beyond me.
On the oil-topic – Why was the oil-ministry the only one guarded by U.S. troops when Baghdad fell?
Off topic this nugget from a Knickmeyer/WaPo piece on Lebanon:
Radical Group Pulls In Sunnis As Lebanon’s Muslims Polarize
The short trip up the narrow concrete steps to their apartment made clear what the family looked for in a leader. Their son’s thickly bearded face was first, scowling from a photocopied sheet declaring him a martyr. An image of Saad Hariri and Siniora followed, next to a poster of Saddam Hussein with sunlit clouds surrounding his head. “God bless Osama bin Laden,” someone had scrawled one flight up.
As for Syriana,
Anyone who thinks the US would assasinatate a UAE prince who is reform minded just doesn’t get out of the library enough.
And to add to that, even if the US wanted, they wouldn’t go for it in the way described – direct action – and use a Predator and a Hellfire missile.
The current SOP to see a politically invovenient someone or group dead seems to be to find some local person or group who does it for them low-tech to have ‘plausible deniability’ (only needs to work at home).
Look at Palestine right now. These people there where so foolish to elect Hamas. Islamists! That would not be tolerated, so Elliot Abrams, disregarding allied concerns, wooed disgruntled Fatah, who were more than eager to do the killing. I can hear them: These Hamas islamists, they aren’t the real Palestinians! Only we are the vanguard of the Palestinian cause! (which reminds me of the french comic ‘Isnogud‘, whose main charaters main theme is: I want to be Kalif instead of the Kalif!).
Thus far Fatah has succeeded in ‘rolling back’ Hamas in the West Bank, giving credence to the say that Palestinians can’t agree where to cross a street without infighting.
That say also suggests that Israeli successes against palestinians are not due to the Israelis being anti-terror geniusses, but due to the Palestinians being half-assed wusses too vain to understand that their only chance to ever stand up to Israel is unity. A small miracle, the new Palestinian prime minister (elected by whom btw?) is US educated.
Salam Fayyad, who was on Friday tasked with forming a new Palestinian government, is a US-educated pragmatist widely respected in the West …. a technocrat and former official at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank …. bespectacled, immaculately-dressed …. fluent English speaker who easily quotes Thomas Jefferson ….
I am confident that with such qualifications he will rule successfully. Technocrat, World Bank, IMF. Yay. His education would better include a masters degree in tribal doublecross. Watch out for the ads: Searching telegenic pro-US prime minister for Arab country: Key qualififcations – have studied in the US, dress well, wear glasses, speak fluent english, quote Jefferson. Silvery hair helps.
Hamas is now left to Gaza, and is likely to face an Israeli onslaught to finish Operation Rollback.
It probably will not work. One of the things it suffers from is that it will be the Israelis finishing Hamas off, or try to, and not Fatah.
That destroys the whole nice pseudo-‘civil war’ scenario (as in: the good aka real palestinians have risen up to kill the bad aka false palestinians). Makes it hard for Fatah to maintain the fiction to fight for the Palestinian cause, when they are de-facto allied with the primary obstacle of the Palestinian cause, but that’s probably just me, after all Palestinians are stupid. They won’t notice. If at some point they get suspicious I have little doubt Karen Hughes will be able to talk them out of believing it.
It ain’t a civil war when one group is propped up from the outside, here likely by the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel and probably Egypt and Jordan, and all of a sudden the last ruling group starts killing the winner of the last election. It is called ‘covert intervention’, or a ‘proxy-war’.
It is a pity that a voice of reason, knowledge and experience, such as yours, gets lost in the cacophony of spin, sensationalism and trivia that seem to dominate public discourse in the US these days.
The Gaza fiasco illustrates the inability of the US and the West to adopt a rational and viable policy to deal with the potential for extremism in the Muslim world, that spawns the jihadis who are attacking the West. The basic failure is a conceptual one : treating it as an ideological struggle akin to the Cold War. This results in any group that formally espouses Islamic tenets being treated as an adversary which must be opposed, undermined and, if necessary, fought, directly or by proxy. Recent examples are Hamas, Hizballah and the “Islamic courts” in Somalia. The one notable exception, of course, is Saudi Arabia, a fundamentalist, medieval Islamic kingdom, from which flows the money and the ideology that fosters most of the extremism in the Muslim world (because the West can’t do without its oil, and believes it can depend on the corruption of the royal family to keep a lid on things).
The people the West considers its friends in the Muslim world, and supports, are the small elites who mouth the right mantras (thus earning the title “moderate”), and rule their countries with varying degrees of repression, all the while enriching themselves at the expense of their people. In most of these countries the groups espousing the cause of the people against the corruption and oppression of their West-supported rulers are religious parties. These parties are generally anti-West (with cause), but are not extremist.
What the West does not seem to realize is that, if these religious-oriented parties are crushed, what is likely to replace them are the extremists. This is what happened in Algeria: the Islamic Salvation Front was followed by the Armed Islamic Group, a terrorist organization. This is what is happening in Somalia. This is what is likely to happen if Hamas is suppressed.
That one is pretty easy to answer. The neocons et al wanted to get the oil flowing in export sales as fast as possible in order to fund reconstruction. pl
The basic failure is a conceptual one : treating it as an ideological struggle akin to the Cold War. This results in any group that formally espouses Islamic tenets being treated as an adversary which must be opposed, undermined and, if necessary, fought, directly or by proxy.
I get the impression that Hamas and Hezbollah are less corrupt and better managed than Fatah or most Middle East governments. They provide social services and more orderly environments. If you are an ordinary person, e.g running a small business, wouldn’t you prefer them to Fatah et al? I know some African businessmen who say that they vote for the politician they think most likely to create a safe and orderly environment, good roads, an honest police and judiciary,and good schools, irrespective of religion.
Another point: I see that the Tel Aviv stock market is serene, despite the recent ructions.
It was a really good interview, Mr Lang. Well done.
OT. But worth a read. Seymour Hirsch article on his conversation with Gen. Taguba.
The General’s Report
Perhaps I have misread the incidents in Gaza. Maybe Hamas taking over Gaza is a sign of them rolling back Fatah, and not vice versa. In that case Abrams proxy intervention would be failing already. And the purpose of Israel’s planned strike would be to prevent the worst.
Hard to see from here which way it’s around.
The oil discussion brings to mind Charles Peirce and his essay on “The Fixation of Belief.” He puts forth four methods for the holding of beliefs: method of tenacity, method of authority, a priori method, and method of science. I will attempt to fit oil into that model (Peirce was a giant, I am still trying to get my email to work, and no offense is intended to anyone).
Argument 1: Iraq has oil, we want oil, therefore, the war must be about oil. This case is direct and easily digested.
Argument 2: Marx, Hobson, Lenin, and Chomsky, among others, describe the underlying drive for a hegemonic-capitalist-imperialist-colonial power to seek control over the weak for various reasons. This case relies on well-known arguments and to greater or lesser extent has moral authority.
Argument 3: Everyone knows Cheney is an oilman who cares only about oil. So, his energy meeting had to be about getting U.S. control over Iraqi oil. The reliance, in this case, is on the universal doctrine of greed and self-interest.
Argument 4: We can speculate, hypothesize, and reason based on known and observed facts and keep an open mind.
I feel it is a safe assumption that the reasons behind the war are far more complicated and messy than we, as a people, may ever discover. And, free riders are grabbing opportunities that the law of unintended consequences has provided. I will find it tragically ironic if, after a few years, Bush tells us he invaded Iraq because he could.
Good interview on CNN and great commentary.
Excellent interview. If you gave a briefing I’d listen. But then, I was a lowly E-5 when I got out of the Army.
I ginned up the term, non-state nuclear weapons, to describe atomic or hydrogen bombs in the hands of non-state groups, Al Qaeda for example. The effect of a detonation non- state weapon has been portrayed in “24”, “Sum of All Fears” and “The Peacemaker”.
It was Bush Administration’s justification for preemptive war; Cheney’s One Percent Doctrine.
If there is no state to destroy, then Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is moot. Russian weapons lost during the fall of communism are the usual examples, but if there were any out of Russian control they’d probably been detonated by now. Neo-cons and Likudites generally indicate that MAD won’t work with the current Iranian government. Good enough reason for them to start the Iranian bombing campaign immediately. The most likely new source of a non-state nuclear weapon will be Pakistan once General Musharraf is overthrown, as tensions rise in Islam, over actual and perceived Western crusade against their religion.
Oil is always involved. If there wasn’t all that excess oil money floating around the Middle East, radical Islamists would have as much chance of obtaining nuclear weapons as the Rwanda Hutus; none.
To John in the boro:
Of course lots of folks believe it was the oil or
a power grab, what choice do they have?
Opposed to those tales, we have the notion of the POTUS thinking that if he just got rid of Saddam, an Iraqi George Washington would magically appear and transform Iraq into something resembling,say, Texas.
Reality frequently puts itself at a terrible disadvantage when pitted against concocted theories. It simply doesn’t give a damn if it’s ridiculous.
Special thanks to John-in- the-Boro for mentioning Charles Sanders Peirce (pronounced “purse”) and his classic essay “The Fixation of Belief” first published in Popular Science Magazine (the Scientific American of its day) in 1877. I consider only George Orwell’s equally classic essay “Politics and the English Language” (1946) on a par with it for putting easily accessible analytical power into the hands of the general reader. Peirce — as a practicing scientist and seminal modern logician — excelled at deconstructing flawed argumentation with the additional bonus of doing so with at least as much literary style and verve as Arthur Schopenhauer did in his ironic “The Art of Controversy” (what I like to call Manufactured Mendacity and Managed Mystification.)
As Peirce wrote elsewhere: “The best hypothesis, in the sense of the one most recommending itself to the inquirer, is the one that can be most readily refuted if it is false. This far outweighs the trifling merit of being likely. … [Thus] if a hypothesis can be quickly and easily cleared away so as to go forward leaving the field free for the main struggle, this is to immense advantage.”
For example, (as David Michael Green recently reminded us): “The younger Bush, George W., never asked his father for advice on Iraq. Instead, he said: “You know he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to.” Bush has also stated, “I’m driven with a mission from God. … God would tell me, ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq…’ And I did.”
So, following Peirce, can we not reject as completly absurd the proposition that the American government invaded and now occupies Iraq so that George W. Bush could fulfill the commands that he received from voices inside his own head which he attributed (after the fact of his invasion of Iraq) to some as-yet-unidentified invisible friend in the sky? Yes, I claim that we can readily and rapidly reject this lame, if not insanely delusional, ex-post-facto rationale.
Moving on to more plausible explanations, we might well consider the analytic advice offered by Princeton professor of economics (and New York Times columnist) Paul Krugman in his book The Great Unravelling: From boom to bust in three scandalous years. Krugman specifically said: “Do some homework to find out what these people really want. … You just have to look at what the people pushing the policy said before they were trying to sell it to the broader public.”
For example, (and again quoting David Michael Green’s recent recapitulation of well-known facts): “George W. Bush gave twenty interviews in 1999 to Mickey Herskowitz, a friend of the Bush family contracted at the time to ghostwrite his autobiography. Bush was thinking about invading Iraq at that time, saying “‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”
So, following Krugman, should we not have simply taken George W. Bush at his threatening word (circa 1999) that “if” he got the chance (which the events of 9/11/2001 later gave him) to invade Iraq, then the American government under his “leadership” would do that so President George W. Bush could “be seen” as “a great leader” and “commander-in-chief” so that he could amass loads of “political capital” so that he could get all the bills passed that he wanted and have “a successful presidency”? In part, yes. When my fellow Vietnam Veteran (and former Rand Corporation defense analyst) Daniel Ellsberg said that America invaded Iraq for “Oil, Israel, and Domestic Politics,” he meant by “domestic politics” what Dick Cheney, if not George W. Bush, meant by that term: namely, the accumulation of undisputed and unchallenged power in hands of a so-called “unitary executive” (or Imperial Presidency) that would use that power to better serve the interests of those who wanted all those bills “successfully” passed. One cannot do much for the vested interests that funded and championed one’s candidacy for office (whether in the oil business or Israel) if one does not first grasp and hold the unalloyed power required to service their demands.
To summarize the more plausible proposition as developed to this point:
America invaded Iraq to depose a dictator we did not fear, to deprive him of weapons he did not possess, in retaliation for an attack upon us in which he did not participate — all so that George W. Bush could pose as “a great leader” and “commander in chief in time of war” which would allow him to amass political capital sufficient to get passed all the bills he wanted and thus have a “successful” presidency in service to the businesses (including Oil) and Zionist (Israeli and Fundamentalist Christian) lobbies that funded and voted for his candidacy as Dick Cheney’s sock-puppet propaganda catapulter. Or, as Daniel Ellsberg said more succinctly: “America invaded Iraq for Oil, Israel, and Domestic Politics” (in reverse order.) I think that about covers it.
Yes, I know that those “bills” that Sheriff Cheney and Deputy Dubya have wanted to pass (and needed a war to do so) their whole sorry political lives primarily center on the historic Calvinist project against the “lazy” poor and FDR New Dealers who “just hate” those misunderstood “big guys” (like the late Enron CEO Ken “smartest guy in the room” Lay) for all their advertised “success” — if not for all their lush, government subsidies and crony, no-bid, cost-plus contracts. I’ve gone on long enough here, though, so I’ll just promise to revisit this self-serving Puritan “moral” issue later with an essay I wrote several years ago called “The Calvinist and his Hobbes,” featuring Deputy Dubya Bush and Sheriff Dick Cheney (channeling that Calvinist President Richard “screw the poor” Nixon) in their respective roles, of course.
Till then, cheers to all; and I look forward to the logical, reasoned, and dispassionate — if not occasionally poetic — discussion that I have no doubt will ensue the longer this self-destructive insanity in Iraq persists — long past the expiration date of any “political capital” that this completely discretional, unforced, and tragic national error may have once, briefly, engendered for those “moral” Puritans in the concentrated corporate community who live by Attila’s creed: “It is not enough that I succeed. Everyone else must fail.”
I am now certain that Hamas in Gaza preempted Fatah.
coming back to the issue of intelligence if I may, I would like to say the following. As you well know the intelligence process can be divided into the three “AAA” components: aquisition, analysis, acceptance. The latter is also an integral part of intelligence. I have little doubt that what I call the “Imperial High Command” (the folks in charge in Israel and the USA) had the aquisition part well-covered in Gaza, not only by fancy technical means, but simply by monitoring the FM band of the motorolas Fatah uses, by the overhead drones and by their agents on the ground. Which leaves either a failure of analysis or acceptance. I very much doubt that if the analytical branches of Aman, Mossad and the entire US “letter soup” had put down in writing a correct analysis of what the consquences of a takeover of Gaza by Hamas would have inevitably been the national authorities would have done nothing. In particular that the situation also had very interesting opportunities (such as striking Hamas fighters in their staging areas). Did you notice that no IDF airstrikes took place during the battles even though that was a perfect opportunity to weigh in and blame any possible collateral damage on “Hamas terrorists” and the like?
I just don’t see the political leadership doing nothing if given a clear – written – warning of the imminent threat of a Hamas takeover. Yet, nothing happened.
Then there is the firing of Peretz. Sure, that was a good opportunity to get rid of this idiot (sort of like replacing Rummy with Gates) but is it not possible that this was also in response for a failure of the folks in Aman to get it right?
I think that the latest intelligenc FUBAR in Gaza is just another in a long, long list of screwups of the US and Israeli failures in intelligence. My guess is that the constant purging of truly proffesional cadre and their replacement with politically loyal bureaucrats has a lot to do with the systematic inability of the “Imperial High Command” to get it right (as was the case in Iraq, the war in Lebanon last year, the outcome of the Palestinian elections and so many other examples).
Does that makes sense?
I would be curious to know if you have ever worked in the intelligence “bidness.” I ask that because in my experience of the US and many other intelligence services you would be wrong on two important points.
“the intelligence process can be divided into the three “AAA” components: aquisition, analysis, acceptance”
No. The intelligence process consists of: collection (acquisition), analysis, and dissemination. The acceptance of the work product of the intelligence people (process) is in no way part of the intelligence process. “Acceptance” as you call it, is the realm of the commander in a military context or the policy decision maker in a civilian context. These two functions of government must be kept separate. If they are not, then you end with policy advocates dictating the nature of reality as in the present Bush Administration follies.
“I very much doubt that if the analytical branches of Aman, Mossad and the entire US “letter soup” had put down in writing a correct analysis of what the consquences of a takeover of Gaza by Hamas would have inevitably been the national authorities would have done nothing.”
You would be wrong in this belief as well. Policy decision makers rarely are governed by intelligence analysis in any decision for a course of action that they wish to take. They also think that they are smarter than the intelligence people whom they generally see as monkish folk who would have been policy people of they had been up to it. No. pl
If I’m not mistaken the U.S. has stepped up arming (and possibly training) Fatah to encourage them in a fight vs. Hamas. The problem seems to be that when you start a civil war, sometimes you lose.
“acceptance” as the third component was an AAA expression I learned in the USA from US intelligence soup people, but I have no problem using dissemination provided that activity is clearly understood as being result /outcome oriented and not action oriented. It is, in my experience, a crucial skill of the officer in charge of signing off on an intelligence document to phrase it in such as way as to clearly spell out the consequences of not acting on it (if only to cover his own butt should things go sour). As for the politocos, it is my (admittedly indirect) experience that they are often intimidated by intelligence folks rather than hostile of condescending.
Lastly, I might be old-fashioned here, but it is my belief that there is a point when an intelligence officer has to formulate a warning on no unequivocal terms (again – in writing) if the indicators and warnings are clearly pointing out to a development with potentially serious consequences. Just “disseminating” is too bureaucratic an approach when lives of people are at stake, don’t you think?
I think that the people who did not raise all the alamrs before Hamas took over Gaza or, for that matter, those who were ineffective in explaining the risks of having a “free and fair” election in Palestine, or a “surge” in Iraq (or the cakewalk invasion) for that matter should have been demoted or sacked for not doing their job and for properly by their command. Instead, I bet you there were promoteb by their Neocon bosses…
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