Late in the Game…

Bm "…his bottom line is that the U.S. military is in "strategic peril" — a sharp contrast to his previous views. In 2005, he concluded in a similar report that "momentum is now clearly with the Iraqi government and coalition security forces." In a 2006 assessment, he wrote: "It was very encouraging for me to see the progress achieved in the past year."

The retired general, who on his latest visit also interviewed a U.S. intelligence official and some Iraqi officers, is especially critical of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It is "despised" by the Sunnis, he writes, is seen as "untrustworthy and incompetent" by the Kurds, and now enjoys "little credibility among the Shia populations from which it emerged."

The government lacks dominance in every province, he added. One result is that "no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, foreign NGO [nongovernmental organization], nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi, without heavily armed protection."

Militias and armed bands are "in some ways more capable of independent operations" than the Iraqi army, he added."  McCaffery


It is late in "the game" for Mccaffery to "get religion" but it is welcome news that this well respected (if not liked) soldier has finally gotten past the psychological barrier that causes so many senior officers to insult the public’s intelligence by indulging themselves in the boosterism and "rah!-rah!" talk that evidently makes them feel that they are still "on the team." (and likely to continue to be "consulted")  This man is highly intelligent and skilled.  It took him all this time to figure out the god-awful mess that US policy has made of Iraq and the Middle East?  I hope his students at USMA will take note of both the accuracy of his present analysis and the egregious crap that he has been shoveling until now.  Perhaps a few more officers need to "examine their conscience" about this matter.  pl

This entry was posted in Current Affairs. Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Late in the Game…

  1. JfM says:

    Spot on, Pat…spot on. One must truly wonder why General McCaffery’s apparent epiphany comes so late. Yeah, he is smart and certainly well-spoken. But his is also rather breathtakingly arrogant maintaining his wrong conviction way over its expiration date. However his conversion is not without public cost, for much of the public’s acceptance for too long of this despicable adventure was sustained by his and other identified ‘military expert’s’ assurances that all was improving and would simply take continued sacrifice and more time to bear fruit. He lent his sizable warrior reputation to bolstering the Administration’s insipid struggle for public tolerance. McCaffery and other similar men of iron sustained Bush’s anemic effort for too long. His is not just the mundane change of opinion by a twenty-something, attractive, self anointed regional expert cum journalist cum TVchat-meister. No, he has a deeper culpability of being identified forever with the wrong side because of his former (now squandered ) credibility. Frankly, I don’t get a damn what he has to say hereafter.

  2. VietnamVet says:

    When General McCaffery flips, punditry has changed. When Congress flips, the world has changed. Congressional Republicans allowed the 2008 Iraq pull out date legislation to pass, no filibuster. They have cut the cord. The President is flopping in the wind, venom dripping from his lips, as he vetoes the Iraq War funding bill. The USA is going to withdraw out of Iraq. He is a Loser.
    With the bursting of the housing bubble and with the defeat in Iraq certain, the real question is can the USA afford to allow the incompetent leadership to last for two more years? Hold on to your seats.

  3. piersy says:

    Sad though that he had to retire before his Damascene road moment.
    It would be encouraging to see serving top brass hold their real views and concern for their men ahead of career concerns.

  4. lina says:

    I don’t think McCaffrey has been in complete denial like most of the retired military cheering section for this ridiculous war. (He’s been in modified, middle earth denial.) See his op-ed in the Post last Dec:
    But somebody should get a clue that wrecking a country and leaving people without electricity, water, medical services and all the other civil society stuff they had before, is not conducive to standing up a democratic government. Maybe they could spend an hour or two on that at West Point. HELLO.

  5. Stan Henning says:

    Have you noticed now that, when you first see a doctor, they take all your vital signs and then ask if you feel depressed? I feel like answering yes, because the first thing that comes to mind when I hear this is my dismay at what has been done to my country by the incredible level of ignorance, incompetence and downright negligence permeating our civil and military leadership. Sure, politicians who take office come with a lot of flaky baggage, but are not those in our established government institutions supposed to provide a sanity check on spaced out clowns in wonderland? I know, those who do will likely be fired. But then, shouldn’t our schools focus more seriously on our sociopolitical system and the issues and ideals we seek to uphold as good citizens beyond merely voting and then being left to, or merely choosing to, grit our teeth and wring our hands in utter despair?

  6. zanzibar says:

    Finally, McCaffery recognizes the reality.
    What was priceless was Wolf Blitzer’s show on CNN yesterday. He had McCain stating that the “surge” was working well and there are areas in Baghdad safe enough for a walk and that Gen. Petraeus rides around in an unarmed humvee. Wolf followed that with CNN correspondent Michael Ware in Iraq who reported that McCain’s statement was absurd and that no westerner can walk around unmolested. And that Gen Petraeus has multiple layers of armored protection from helicopters to drones and surrounded by heavily armed vehicles.
    Just shows how out of touch or intentionally misleading our “leaders” are!! The only good news is that at least some in the corporate media are doing some fact checking and calling bullshit now after all the cheerleading they have done over the past 4 years.

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    In the same vein, Kira Phillips’ interview with Admiral Fallon a couple of days ago was discouraging. She used to seem a big “war person” herself but reality has apparently mugged her.
    Fallon was doing well until he told her that there is not civil war in Iraq just a few nasty people. She responded by asking him why, if that were so, that she hears mortar rounds bursting in the Green Zone every morning as well as the thunder of car bombs around the city. He said that were a few little things like that, but that in general things are looking good.
    This reminds me of the trip that Mit Romney’s father made to Vietnam during the war. He returned to say that all was going well and then, when he sobered up (from too much sugar probably) said that he had been brain washed or snow jobbed or some such.
    Look for Fallon to recant after a bit. pl

  8. Will says:

    This man is highly intelligent and skilled=/ It took him all this time to figure out the god-awful mess that US policy has made of Iraq and the Middle East
    does not equal sign
    This guy is no General Odum or Zinni. Souonds like a slow learner to me.

  9. john in the boro says:

    We may not be witnessing the reality of Bush’s policies mugging true believers and other assorted riders. We may be witnessing the reality of political expediency mugging some of them—the smarter ones at least. After all, who wants to be the last pundit to shill for Bush? Certainly, McCaffery joins a growing body of “I used to support the war” advocates who now manifest the reality of that mugging. These folks have about two years to cleanse their reputations. A finger down the throat is not sufficient.

  10. Sandy says:

    Thank you, Colonel. Amen!

  11. PSD says:

    re McCaffery–I can’t help but think of the expression “too little, too late,” especially for the 3,000+ Americans who have sacrificed their lives, not to mention the 1000s and 1000s of Iraqis.
    I guess his “getting religion” is better late than never tho’.

  12. Burgette Mobley says:

    I know exactly what you mean. Last night I watched a DVD called “Terrorstorm” and while I knew all of what was brought up, Northwoods, USS Liberty, Gladio and all the rest of it, I hadn’t really thought about them for a while—it’s just too depressing. But the thing that caught my attention was the part about Orwell’s double think. The idea that you really know something but won’t admit to that knowledge because it is just too awful to fully comprehend and if you admit to the truth you feel compelled to do something but in the end you are left wringing your hands and fretting. Not an effective way to spend your time. You feel helpless and sometimes hopeless.
    I think they’ve got a clue already. I think that’s why so many people won’t allow themselves to even contemplate leaving Iraq. What is very likely going to follow is not a good thing to have on your conscience. I have been against this “little adventure” in nation building from the start, argued against every chance I got and I feel guilty about whats been done and whats going to happen when we leave.

  13. Got A Watch says:

    A late conversion forced by hard reality. Too bad this hasn’t penetrated the dim recesses of the White House.
    Meanshile, events in the ME continue to spin out of control:
    This was apparently on Bloomberg’s paid feed today:
    “Saudi King Abdullah Says Iraq Occupation Illegal
    2007-03-28 08:00 (New York)
    By Tarek Al-Issawi and Glen Carey
    March 28 (Bloomberg) — The U.S.-led occupation of Iraq is “illegal” and the Arab states “are more divided now” than ever, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz al-Saud said today.
    “In the beloved Iraq, there is blood-letting among brothers amid foreign occupation that is illegal and sectarian violence that threatens to lead to a civil war,” Abdullah said during the opening session of the 19th Arab summit in Riyadh.
    “We are farther away from unity today than we were when the Arab League was formed” in 1945, Abdullah said.
    Saudi Arabia has stepped up diplomatic efforts to contain the deteriorating security situation in neighboring Iraq and prevent the sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslim Iraqis from extending into the kingdom.”
    And on the Iran file:
    “Russian intelligence sees U.S. military buildup on Iran border
    27/ 03/ 2007
    MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russian military intelligence services are reporting a flurry of activity by U.S. Armed Forces near Iran’s borders, a high-ranking security source said Tuesday.
    “The latest military intelligence data point to heightened U.S. military preparations for both an air and ground operation against Iran,” the official said, adding that the Pentagon has probably not yet made a final decision as to when an attack will be launched.
    He said the Pentagon is looking for a way to deliver a strike against Iran “that would enable the Americans to bring the country to its knees at minimal cost.”
    He also said the U.S. Naval presence in the Persian Gulf has for the first time in the past four years reached the level that existed shortly before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. ”
    Or how about this one, apparently posted on Yahoo Forum, can’t be verified:
    “Operation Bite – April 6 Sneak Attack By US Forces On Iran Planned – Russian Military Sources Warn, General Ivashov Calls For Emergency Session Of UN Security Council To Ward Off Looming US Aggression By Webster G. Tarpley
    WASHINGTON DC — The long awaited US military attack on Iran is now on track for the first week of April, specifically for 4 AM on April 6, the Good Friday opening of Easter weekend, writes the well-known Russian journalist Andrei Uglanov in the Moscow weekly “Argumenty Nedeli.” Uglanov cites Russian military experts close to the Russian General Staff for his account.
    The attack is slated to last for twelve hours, according to Uglanov, lasting from 4 AM until 4 PM local time. Friday is a holiday in Iran. In the course of the attack, code named Operation Bite, about 20 targets are marked for bombing; the list includes uranium enrichment facilities, research centers, and laboratories.
    The first reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant, where Russian engineers are working, is supposed to be spared from destruction. The US attack plan reportedly calls for the Iranian air defense system to be degraded, for numerous Iranian warships to be sunk in the Persian Gulf, and the for the most important headquarters of the Iranian armed forces to be wiped out.
    The attacks will be mounted from a number of bases, including the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia is currently home to B-52 bombers equipped with standoff missiles. Also participating in the air strikes will be US naval aviation from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, as well as from those of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. Additional cruise missiles will be fired from submarines in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of the Arabian peninsula. The goal is allegedly to set back Iran’s nuclear program by several years, writes Uglanov, whose article was re-issued by RIA-Novosti in various languages, but apparently not English, several days ago. The story is the top item on numerous Italian and German blogs, but so far appears to have been ignored by US websites.
    Observers comment that this dispatch represents a high-level orchestrated leak from the Kremlin, in effect a war warning, which draws on the formidable resources of the Russian intelligence services, and which deserves to be taken with the utmost seriousness by pro-peace forces around the world.
    Asked by RIA-Novosti to comment on the Uglanov report, retired Colonel General Leonid Ivashov confirmed its essential features in a March 21 interview: “I have no doubt that there will be an operation, or more precisely a violent action against Iran.” Ivashov, who has reportedly served at various times as an informal advisor to Putin, is currently the Vice President of the Moscow Academy for Geopolitical Sciences. ”
    Add the calls from clueless hawks who want to stifle Seymour Hersh for “giving away the plan to the enemy”.
    Dark clouds are gathering.

  14. F-One says:

    To add to Got A Watch comment, I saw this morning in Washington Post the Saudi King had turned down a invitation from the White House to a gala in the King’s honor. Also, Jordan’s King has turned down a state visit scheduled in September.
    The Middle East appears to be sending a message to the White House, question is, will they ever get clue?

  15. Will says:

    In the same vein as Got a Watch.
    Jim Hoagland in the WashPost reports that Saudi Rex Abdullah has cancelled a tete a tete with Dumbya for April 17. I can’t believe that the Arab Summit is still rehashing the “Right of Return.”
    They should simply adopt the Taba Agreement or the Geneva Initiative that the PLO and the Israelis had previously agreed to. You can’t repeatedly replow old ground and expect to get somewhere. Interestingly, there is an Iranian observor at the Summit.
    I”d like to see a right of the return for the Maronite Xtian villagers in the Chouf in Mount Lebanon. Then I”d like to see a War Crime Tribunal for GiGi and Jumblatt for ethnic cleansing.
    India Times reports that UAE wants no part of Operation BITE. No thank you say the Sheiks to any operation against our Persian “brothers.”

  16. zanzibar says:

    Got A Watch,
    If the Russian intelligence is accurate and there is an attack on Iran there will be a shitstorm in the world. No excuse including the arrest of British sailors and marines by Iran would be acceptable to the majority in the world.
    I wonder how the Dems presidential candidates like Hillary, Obama and Edwards will respond. After all they were paying homage at the AIPAC shrine recently calling for all options on the table. This could very well split the Democratic party and maybe an astute domestic political strategy by the Decider and Rove. They don’t like the way Congress is exercising oversight and an international crisis is just what their doctor ordered.

  17. Will says:

    interesting tidbit
    reprising the thread- the constituency that counts- the military electorate
    “Conservative ideologues and business lobbyists, meanwhile, were appalled to see their domestic agendas upstaged by the Frankenstein monster of Iraq. [20] Even that ‘wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party’ (as columnist Rosa Brooks has called it), the military electorate, has begun to bolt the stable: Military Times polls show the percentage of soldiers identifying as Republicans declining from 60 per cent in 2004 to 46 per cent in late 2006. Only slightly more than one-third of GI’s currently approve of Bush’s handling of the war.”
    Mike Davis

  18. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Got a Watch: Per Iran, for those interested the original Russian article noted is at:
    Novosti reporting on US Iran policy seems to vary between the English language selections and the French language selections.
    French at:
    English at:
    The French language selections include the reporting on the AN article on 19 March and an interesting comment by General Ivashov on 21 March. Ivashov says the reason the US will strike Iran is because the Israel Lobby-AIPAC wants it to. [“Nous en avons tiré la conclusion que cette opération aurait bien lieu. Autrement dit, la communauté israélienne des Etats-Unis et la direction israélienne – représentée à cette conférence par la ministre des Affaires étrangères de l’Etat hébreu – ont formulé la directive d’attaquer l’Iran”, a noté l’expert.]

  19. MarcLord says:

    Operation Bite, huh? I’ve been keeping tabs on the location of the USS Reagan, currently in Pusan. I figured it would need to be involved, but maybe it doesn’t have to be, in a more limited decapitate-and-cripple attack.
    So, back to the basics; our undefined goals, our invisible enemies. Smoke and mirrors. Iraq is first, Iran is next. The Cold War was so fun, we decided not to end it.
    Russia and China will defend in depth, and let the US perform its final grinding over-extension into Iran. Then they will attack on exposed financial flanks. They’ll probably own the US before this is done.

  20. zanzibar says:

    The Wall Street view of the situation with Iran:
    Oil could hit $100

  21. Will says:

    the third carrier
    le Generale Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (R91)
    you just don’t know about the French. It’s a wonder the Israelis didn’t bomb Syria. It comes out now that Chirac (along w/ Dumbya) was burning up the phone to Olmeret urging just that during the Summer or 2006. Still taking it personal about his friend Harriri.
    Recently Olmeret testified before the Winograd Commission of Inquiry that he had planned the Summer War in March of 2006 if an abduction ocurred. So he had four months to prepare for the war or alternatively safeguard his troops from abduction. On the other hand, Nasrallah said he wouldn’t have done the deed if it would have resulted in a full scale war.
    prepared for war for four months

  22. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Meanwhile, kinky Condi is out and about in the region. Says Rami Khouri, “It’s hard to decide if this is a comedy or a horror show.
    “The most galling thing about Rice’s and Washington’s approach is its fundamental dishonesty. The Bush administration spent its first six years avoiding any serious engagement in the Arab-Israeli conflict, or decisively siding with the Israelis on most key contested points, like refugees, security or settlements. Now, with little time left in her incumbency, President Bush on the ropes, his administration in tatters, America’s army in trouble in Iraq, Washington’s credibility shattered in the region and around the world, and the Middle East slipping into greater strife and dislocation, we are asked to believe that she will dedicate her remaining time in office to securing the establishment of a Palestinian state.
    Does she take us in the Arab world for idiots or robots? Or simply another generation of hapless Arabs with no options, and so must go along docilely with every American-Israeli initiative — no matter how insulting, insincere or desperate it can be? This one smacks of all three.”
    Delusional military officers? Neocons favor the Alcibiades type. Delusional politicians? Neocons favor the Thrasymachus type. Take the Neocon author of the “Surge” plan, Frederick Kagan of AEI. His Neocon father, Donald Kagan, Yale professor is a specialist in Greek history and, naturally, the Peloponnesian War.

  23. Matthew says:

    Will: The Saudis are “rehashing” the Right to Return because some agreement, even if symbolic, on that issue will be reached when Final Status is decided. It is not so important that the Disapera return to Palestine; it is the acknowledgement that it was their home and that they really did live there. A symbolic return accomplishes that. One suspects that Israel would never agree to more than a few thousands returning Palestinians, many quite old. However, the healing effect of even such a small number is significant.

  24. chimneyswift says:

    I’m always fascinated by the content and timing of the reprorts from the Russian Intelligence, er, press services.

  25. Peter Principle says:

    Col Lang: “It took him all this time to figure out the god-awful mess that US policy has made of Iraq and the Middle East?”
    I don’t think so. The more interesting question is why is he changing his tune now? Petraeus envy?

  26. Eaken says:

    things are starting to stack in the ME. This next week or two is going to be a very interesting and possibly dangerous period of time.
    The tinder is there, it’s bone dry, and it only needs a match to turn into a firestorm.

  27. Got A Watch says:

    I just posted those pieces as notes of interest, not established facts. Yet I keep seeing the same themes repeated in many places – where there’s smoke. I believe the Russians are putting this out to try to forestall an American/Israeli attack.
    The UAE seems to be listening, they announced this week no overflight for “coalition” or Israeli air forces if Iran is attacked. Kuwait has made similar sounding noises recently. Shiites in Iraq would likely rise up en masse if bases in Iraq are used to attack Iran, and likely would even if those bases are not used. Certainly no Saudi bases or airspace will be used. Turkey probably will take the same postion as the rest, to avoid aiding the infidels too openly against another Muslim nation, and because they are upset at USA/Israeli support for the Kurds. Pakistan has also said it wants no part of confilct with Iran. Russia certainly won’t be in favor, and will likely offer covert support to Iran such as satellite recon etc.
    So any planes attacking Iran will have to fly in over international waters while avoiding all the airspace mentioned above. This makes the massed use of carrier planes, cruise missiles and long-range bombers from Diego Garcia etc more likely. It also limits the amount of ground forces that can be deployed inside Iran where re-supply will be more difficlut and tactical air support not close.
    Of course the Iranians are no doubt well aware of these factors, so I am left wondering what responses they may have prepared. Certainly seems there won’t be much surprise in this “surprise” attack. If nuclear “bunker-busters” are used, Iran will probably deploy WMD in retaliation.
    The end result? Who knows, but given the Bushies talent for tripling up on the un-intended consequences, the outcome proably won’t be what the master planners had in mind. The whole ME could go up in flames, and $100 oil is probably way too low. Israel would probably seize the opportunity to attack Lebanon again, and maybe Syria too if the hawks get their way. There seems to be no alternate plan, de-escalation seems improbable from any side.

  28. arbogast says:

    Our leadership really does seem to have been tied in knots by AIPAC.
    There should be a resolution barring an attack on Iran on the President’s desk right now.
    There isn’t. Why?
    Seeing that AIPAC speaks for a minority of a minority, their only power can come from money.
    And where does their money come from?
    If it comes from the yen carry trade, it comes from service to a foreign power against the interests of the US.
    The “inverted yield curve” outlines the body of the US lying cold and dead on the platform of world affairs.

  29. ali says:

    “The police force is feared as a Shia militia in uniform which is responsible for thousands of extra-judicial killings. There is no effective nation-wide court system. There are in general almost no acceptable Iraqi penal institutions. The
    population is terrorized by rampant criminal gangs involved in kidnapping, extortion, robbery, rape, massive stealing of public property–such as electrical lines, oil production material, government transportation, etc. (Saddam released
    80,000 criminal prisoners.)
    The Iraqi Army is too small, very badly equipped (inadequate light armor, junk Soviet small arms, no artillery, no helicopters to speak of, currently no actual or planned ground attack aircraft of significance, no significant air transport assets (only three C-130’s), no national military logistics system, no national military medical system, etc. The Iraqi Army is also unduly dominated by the Shia, and in many battalions lacks discipline. There is no legal authority to punish Iraqi soldiers or police who desert their comrades. (The desertion/AWOL numbers frequently leave Iraqi Army battalions at 50% strength or less.) ”
    I wonder about this statement:
    “Iraq’s neighbors are a problem— not part of the solution (with the exception of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). They provide little positive political or economic support to the Maliki government. ”
    The Saudis may be DC oily little chum but they show every sign of malign intent towards their neighbor.
    A little soldierly candor for once:
    “A disaster in Iraq will in all likelihood result in a widened regional struggle which will endanger America’s strategic interests (oil) in the Mid-east for a generation. ”
    Just to underline the accuracy of this report we just had the Police/Militia running amok in Talafar in response to a savage bomb attack.

  30. jonst says:

    You wrote >>>However, the healing effect of even such a small number is significant<<< Frankly, i never got this. If the deal calls for the creation of a separate, and VIABLE, Palestinian State, why not just take the deal? Why screw it up for something symbolic? You want the entire land of Israel because it once belonged to you? Fine, I get that. Or you just want your own nation and some, all things relative, peace. Fine, I understand that. But rejecting deals for symbolic measures....never understood that.

  31. Brian Hart says:

    Anyone can predict McCaffrey’s daily pearl of wisdom by asking, “what will CNN pay me to say today as a ‘respected military pundit’?” That’s the key.
    That Petraeus is better than the last fool, that you can’t walk down any street without a guard, that the Iraqi government isn’t cursed by every Sunni, most Kurds and any Shiite family that wakes up and finds the electricity and water aren’t running is no surprise. I could write his analysis from my living room.
    One asks, “who pays for his trips to Iraq?” You can bet he doesn’t.
    What qualifies him to speak anyway? That great victory in the War on Drugs he led?
    Has he once spoken truth to power?

  32. Duncan Kinder says:

    The long awaited US military attack on Iran is now on track for the first week of April, specifically for 4 AM on April 6, the Good Friday opening of Easter weekend,
    Does this mean we won’t have to file our income tax returns this year? (irony)

  33. plp says:

    Dr. Kiracofe,
    Let’s make it more specific: not the actual fighting during the Peloponnesian War, but the causes and reasons for the onset and continuation of the Peloponnesian War. For those who don’t know the story. Athens, a city-state in the ancient Greece, was a direct democracy – all decisions, including those about war and peace, were made through voting by all wishing to vote citizens of the state. (In the US democracy is representative – congressmen make decisions for the citizens.) During the Peloponnesian War, Athens and its allies fought Sparta, a racist and communist state (total central planning of everything, the state educated and took care of all children, etc; curiously it shows up in I Maccabees), and Sparta’s allies.
    Let us even have fun with it through comparison.
    In 421BC an Athenian man named Nicias managed to get the warring parties to sign a peace treaty (the end of Cold War). But, in 415BC a student of Socrates (Strauss) named Alcibiades (neoconservatives) convinced Athenians (the US congress and citizens) to vote for a restart of the war and an expedition against a city-state called Syracuse (Iraq). The expedition turned into a disaster and Athens (US) lost its navy. Spartans (?), who did not have a navy and always tried to engage Athenians on land, attacked Athens immediately. Eventually Athens surrendered, and Sparta abolished Athenian democracy and installed a puppet tyrannical regime led by guess who – but of course a personal friend of Socrates and populated by Socrates’ students. Alcibiades defected to Sparta way before the defeat of Athens and then led Spartan armies against his former home state.
    A favorite question of the “political philosophers” is why did the free citizens of Athens voted in favor of the unprovoked expedition against Syracuse. Indeed, why? The leading answers are greed, stupidity and stupidity combined with naïveté and gullibility. Socrates himself seems to have thought that the multitude (the people) is incapable of either great good or great evil; all democratic decisions, he thought, were essentially random. The neoconservative answer would be gullibility: people, in their view, can be taken for a ride by a silver tongue charlatan. And they would point to the Weimar Germany.
    I say we strain our eyesight trying to recognize events far away in the Middle East and forget to look right underneath our noses here at home. The current war is changing not only the world out there, but also the American homeland. A war without end may just lead rightly or wrongly to “tinkering” with the American democratic institutions. How ironic that would be.

  34. Will says:

    Someone is finally connecting the dots between Israeli occupation in the West Bank, the Giant Steel Cage of Gaza and the radicalization of Islam. Ditto for the U.S. occupation of Irak. Duh.
    (Dumbya put the radicalization of Islam with his Irak adventure and occupation on an exponential growth. He is the greatest geopolitcal blunderer of all time.)
    “That is the reason for the Arab elite’s desperate cry for peace. It is also the reason for the Saudi initiative and for the willingness of the Arab League for a normalization with Israel. The Arab elite is convinced – that was my impression from discussions in Madrid – that Israel Defense Forces activities in the territories are causing unrest among the masses. Arab satellite television, which broadcasts from every corner of the territories, is bringing the victims of the intifada into every home in the Arab world. This unrest is fertile ground for the growth of radical Islam. ”
    Shapira in Haaretzt-What are we Waiting for?
    Re the Right of Return-I don’t have ready access for the text of the Taba Accords but the Geneva Accord is onlline- courtesy
    Geneva Accord- Right of Return. See Article 7
    It is sufficiently addressed as a symbolic right that both sides satisfy their INTERESTS and not their respective POSITIONS.

  35. johnf says:

    >His Neocon father, Donald Kagan, Yale professor is a specialist in Greek history and, naturally, the Peloponnesian War.
    But, hardly surprisingly, he has had nothing to say about the Sicilian Expedition since 2003.
    On the Russian report of an attack on April 6th, I find it very difficult to believe that Bush – who may or may not be a Christian but is surrounded by people who do claim to be – would launch an attack on Good Friday, the most sacred day in the Christian calendar, when Christ hung upon the cross. It would not only cause outrage among Christians throughout the world, but, I suspect, among many of his closest followers.

  36. John Howley says:

    USS Nimitz Scheduled To Depart For Persian Gulf
    Ship To Join Another Local Aircraft Carrier
    POSTED: 12:05 pm PDT March 28, 2007
    UPDATED: 12:22 pm PDT March 28, 2007
    SAN DIEGO — The USS Nimitz and its support ships will depart San Diego on Monday for the Persian Gulf to join another local aircraft carrier strike group already in the region, military officials said.
    The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier will join the San Diego-based John C. Stennis Strike Group and relieve the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to Naval Air Forces Public Affairs.
    Military officials said in a statement that the two-carrier presence in the Persian Gulf area is intended to demonstrate the country’s “resolve to build regional security and bring long-term stability to the region.”
    Click here to find out more!
    The Nimitz’s departure comes amid heightened tensions in the region following the detention of 15 British sailors and marines by Iran last week. Iran maintains the detainees were operating in its territorial waters, a charge the British government strongly denies.
    While deployed, the crew of the Nimitz will support the war on terrorism, patrol the Horn of Africa and conduct marine security operations as part of the larger effort to “deter and dissuade others from acting counter to U.S. national interests,” according to a Navy statement.
    The Nimitz Strike Group is comprised of the guided-missile cruiser Princeton, guided-missile destroyers Higgins, Chafee, John Paul Jones and Pinckney, two helicopter squadrons and an explosive ordnance disposal unit.
    The Stennis, and its strike group, left Naval Base Coronado on Jan. 20. The aircraft carrier entered the Persian Gulf Wednesday, according to authorities. It is the largest carrier presence in the area since the start of the war in Iraq.

  37. Will says:

    A lot of classical scholars here. Just a question of a light note. The Athenian Strategos Benedict Arnold Alcibiades had a death sentence on his head for defacing some boundary markers on old Attica. Supposedly whacking them off with his sword while inebriated it.
    Some certain sacred Phallic stones or Hermes. In my mind’s eyes, i have had trouble with the image. Were they they upright phalluses. Or stones with projecting horizontal phalluses that he allegedly severed?
    On a different topic, the Spartanns did have fleets. And some of the engagements took place in far away places such as the Hellespont.

  38. ali says:

    I often come back to The Mutiny and The Raj when talking about Iraq.
    Not had a chance to listen to it yet but William Dalrymple is exploring that territory on Open Source.
    “The First Neo-Cons and “The Last Mughal””:

  39. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    PLP, yes, the Sicilian Expedition was on my mind. Lewis Lapham, Harpers Magazine, wrote a powerful piece on this theme in December 2002. It is entitled “The Road to Babylon.”
    Neocons are deep into the Leo Strauss cult. The clever Zionist professor twisted the Classics to suit his purpose, as do his pupils. Certain selected students were passed along to Alexandre Kojeve in Paris for a final fix of Nietzschean and Hegelian esotericism. One line is Allen Bloom, whose student was Paul Wolfowitz, whose pupil was Irving Lewis Libby. Fukuyama is in the Kojeve mix too (the end of history stuff and all that).
    Professor Shadia Drury documents all this in her “Alexandre Kojeve. The Roots of Postmodern Politics” (New York: St. Martin’ Press, 1994.) My view is that for the inner circle Neocons, the Iraq War becomes the first “postmodern war” and this leads one to enquire about their (fascistic) ideas of the aesthetics of violence. Drury’s book is must reading for those who want to deconstruct the Neocons. A comprehensive and very thorough biography of Kojeve is by Dominique Auffret, “Alexandre Kojeve: La Philosophie, l’etat, la fin d’histoire” (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1990).
    JohnF: I am a bit old fashioned and so I do not consider the believers in the John Nelson Darby “Dispensationalist” Fundamentalist cult to be Christians. Darby’s cult is a 19th century heresy created in England. Father Stephen Sizer’s excellent book “Christian Zionism. Road-map to Armageddon” (Leicester, Eng.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2004) examines the issue from a theological perspective.

  40. Peter Principle says:

    “The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier will join the San Diego-based John C. Stennis Strike Group and relieve the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to Naval Air Forces Public Affairs.”
    So if the Eisenhower tarries or doubles back, we could have three carrier strike forces in the Gulf at some point in early/mid April.
    Oh boy.

  41. D.Witt says:

    On a strategic note, since the April 6th date has widely been bandied about, I’d suggest that if such an attack would occur, it would be prior to that date.
    The domestic political situation in the US has reached a new boiling point, and Bush’s political base has eroded even further, so, in their desperation and hubris, they will attempt to launch a new war, and all that attends, in a sorry attempt to cover their criminal malfeasance and ineptitude.

  42. Duncan Kinder says:

    Some certain sacred Phallic stones or Hermes. In my mind’s eyes, i have had trouble with the image. Were they they upright phalluses. Or stones with projecting horizontal phalluses that he allegedly severed?
    Here’s a photo of a herm along with article:

  43. Sandy says:

    Why aren’t people taking aggressive action to stop Bush/Cheney from their imminent bombing of IRAN???
    Why are so many people just waiting for it to happen???

  44. johnf says:

    ]A lot of classical scholars here.
    Talking of which, here’s William Lind’s latest offering on the parallels between Xenophon’s Anabasis and the present situation in Iraq.
    ]Prudence, that old military virtue, suggests American forces in Iraq should have a plan for Operation Anabasis, a retreat north through Kurdish Iraq to Turkey. Higher headquarters are unlikely to develop such a plan, because if it leaked there would be political hell to pay in Washington. I would therefore strongly advise every American battalion and company in Iraq to have its own Operation Anabasis plan, a plan which relies only on its own resources and whatever it thinks it could scrounge locally. Do not, repeat, do not expect the Air Force to come in and pick you up.

  45. plp says:

    Will, it was not about penises. Alcibiades was charged with a plot against democracy. In one night most of the religious stone figures called Hermae were mutilated. There were a lot of Hermae in Athens. Hermae stood in the doorway of nearly every house and temple in Athens; a single and especially drunk person would never be able to deface most of them in one night. The mutilation was premeditated and done by a group. During the subsequent investigation private citizens came out with information pointing to a group of youth led by Alcibiades. The group gathered in private houses and conducted seemingly religious ceremonies that denigrated and profaned the mainstream Athenian religion. The men then went around the city mutilating and defacing religious symbols. Imagine someone going around knocking down crosses off the churches in our time.
    The Athenian citizens finally decided that the incident was a ploy to upset them on the eve of the expedition against Syracuse (aka the Sicilian expedition) and instigate an anti-democracy revolution.
    Were the Athenians right to be so “paranoid”? The unequivocal answer is yes. Some years before anti-democracy conspirators staged a blood coup in Corcyra, another city-state.
    When someone applies a no nonsense approach to the ancient Greek history, immediately a swarm of “professional” philosophers and ancient Greek “historians” materializes out of thin air claiming that only they “correctly” understand Greek philosophy and history. I send them back to their books. Even their master Plato, following master Socrates evidently, held that philosophers could spontaneously appear anywhere without any “formal” education whatsoever. These thinkers, Plato conceded, are truly free and independent. Those philosophers – or more correctly intellectuals – who received education (were led to light) owe everything to their educator and must do what he commands, such as descending into the cave.
    Sparta was a land-locked state. Spartans commanded fleets, usually identified as the Peloponnesian fleet, composed of ships supplied almost completely by the allies (Corinthians for example). And until the Syracuse expedition, the Peloponnesian fleet was so horrible it lost pretty much every engagement with the Athenian fleet and at some point, simply began running away from the Athenians. Thus, it was not a navy per se, but a bunch of cargo ships that transported Spartans around.

  46. Katherine Hunter says:

    Will, yes i remember Alcibiades from classical history class / our professor said the penoi were upright / heh / not anymore

  47. Will says:

    thanx johnf and the rest of the guys. one pix worth a thousand words. i should have figured out the phallus was carved in relief.
    one often makes the mistake that the Hellenes were confined to what is now modern Greece. They were still there in Anatolia in force but still under Persian domination. In fact Alkibiades schemed with the Persicos mightily but they played him like a fool. And there were the Hellenes of the West- Magna Graecia such as Syracuse. The Hellenes of Athens and Lakedmonia succumbed to Phillip II of Makedon and his young son Alexander Magnus in 338 B.C. at the battle of Chaeronea. There young Alexander must have outflanked the spear and shield wall of the Sacred Band phalanx with his Companion Cavalry. The importance of Combined Arms.
    There perished another “300.” Brave Thebans, The Sacred Band. Phillip himself had at one time been a hostage at Thebes and been involved in a pederastic relationship w/ Pelopidas.
    The Thebans had crushed the vaunted Lakedmonians (Spartan) phalanx by realizing that the massed group of men drifted caused by the prevalence of right handed men. Thus they made their phalanx assymetrical or oblique to take advantage of this drift. The Macedonians innovated further by doing away with the shield, freeing both hands to yeild a much longer spear (14 feet) to be held by the hoplites in the phalanx. They also used a Companion cavalry which could take advantage of openings created by their phalanx.
    The Romans, however, although acquainted with the phalanx due to Phyrric wars, disdained it, and used their more supple maniple formation to attack it from its unprotected flanks. Much as today’s Main Battle Tanks “MBT”‘s need infantry support to survive in dificult terrain, a phalanx needed combined arms protection to guard its rear and flank to survive.

  48. João Carlos says:

    I read this article
    Make me think…

  49. brenda says:

    Will is quite right, the outstanding issues between the Israeli & Palestinian populations has already been exhaustively negotiated, agreed to and signed. The disposition of Jerusalem on the Israeli side and the right-of-return on the Palestinian side were the two most contentious issues. Essentially, the Israelis gave land for peace and the Palestinians gave their right-of-return for peace. It was important that a token few hundred Palestinians would be returned, according to the Geneva Accords, otherwise the Palestinian negotiators would have no chance of their population accepting the agreement.
    The Geneva Initiative was an extra-governmental, grass-roots affair, done to prove that peace could indeed be achieved, but the Israeli gov’t has never had any intention whatsoever of implementing the agreement in spite of its popularity among the Israeli population.

  50. Peter Principle says:

    “In fact Alkibiades schemed with the Persicos mightily but they played him like a fool.”
    Heh. Remind you of anyone we know? Cough, Ledeen, cough.

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Most of this discussion shows that there is the tyranny of Greece and Rome over the minds of men.
    I think Greece and Rome are irrelevant to Iraq. US Civil War is more pertinent than those ancients.

  52. arbogast says:

    Your tax dollars at work: Pentagon hires a PR agency to help with its management of the Walter Reed scandal.

  53. Will says:

    @Babak-“tyranny of Greece and Rome over the minds of men”
    Phillip learned how to defeat Theban arms during his period of tutelage there. If the Persian king’s “military attaches” had been paying attention and making timely reports perhaps history would have been different. Eskandar-e Maqduni (Farsi version) phalanx created an opening at the Battle_of_Gaugamela/Arbela which he exploited with his Companion cavalry. This caused King Darius to flee causing the route of his forces. Archers and infantry with slings had screened the Persian cavalry from following Alexander into the gap.
    Hezbollah took captives and percipitated the Summer War of 2006. Nasrallah said he wouldn’t have done the deed had he known what would have happened. On the other hand, Olmeret had said he had planned since March of 2006 to start total war if captives were taken.
    Dumbya has been planning to bomb Iran for years and now Iran takes captives …..
    To fully exhaust the Macedonian topic, it must be mentioned that the word “Macedonia” survives as the name of the chief vegetable ingredient in Tabouleh, to wit: parsley.
    The Arabic word for parsley is Bakdounis from the Turkish Maydanoz/Makdounis for that region in Greece for which that herb is famous.
    etymology of parsley

  54. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You are not looking at it the right way.
    The Persian Empire, at the time of Darius, was a shell. It had long lost its “tribal cohesion” at the core.
    It was not the Greeks-Macedonian Army that destroyed the Persian Empire, it was the rot at District of Persis – a.k.a. Susa.

  55. ali says:

    Lind’s call for an Anabasis plan is interesting Babak has a good point here. This is all a bit eurocentric and the classical world holds few lessons. That said I’d like to invert things and look at things from the East.
    Let’s not forget the Greeks were a squabbling peripheral set of odd states at the edge of the Persian Empire and often it’s effective vassals. Not so different to the Middle East now. The US is cast more in the role of Imperial Persia; the lumbering hegemon flailing at barbarians of perplexing new obtuseness.
    Think about Tehran as post-Salamis Athens for once. An ideologically innovative but nascent imperialist state; riven by faction and set on standing on the neck of its neighbors. Ahmadinejad as Alcibiades.

  56. plp says:

    Babak and the rest, they read ancient Greeks not because Greek thought necessarily exerts a great influence on their thinking, but because they look for precedents to study. There have not been that many democracies in the world, you know, especially well documented ones. Of course they study Greek democracy to better understand American democracy. Now, what one does with that knowledge and understanding of democracy is a completely different question determined certainly not by the Greeks, but by the cultural, economical, religious and ideological circumstances and predilections of the possessor of that wisdom. It is very important to understand the preceding sentence.
    Iran is not an ancient Athens, period. But the modern US might be.

  57. JR says:

    I have served with Gen Barry McCaffery and as a fellow flag officer, respect his military opinion. That he has seen the “light” is not surprising and (hard that it may seem to understand) that it took so long is somewhat undestandable. First off let me state upfront, the administration has “screwed the pooch” in Iraq. They could at every decision point, flipped a coin and made better decisions. There are no “good” solutions at present. If I thought extending the war and increasing troop levels would have a long term positive effect, I would support such actions but at this point, I have my doubts and our Nations will is speaking.
    As to how the “light” came on so late, I am sure that Gen McCaffery has several in theater sources that keep him informed of current actions. I also have several in theater sources and most of them continue to report progress. Progress is not the issue sustainability or permanancy are the issues and we have neither.
    The biger question is after this debacle is over, should we and will we revert to a somewhat docile responder similar to after Somalia?
    While I am at it, I don’t think Admiral “Fox” Fallon will change things in theater. He is a product of his own success and will follow the “set direction”.
    Final comment, The Brits know exactly where their boats and people were, none of the rest of us, including the Iranians have that exact info. As to actions, again no good answers. As with most hostage situations, continue diplomacy until the release of hostages or until a British sailor or Marine is harmed. Remember 400+ days for our Iranian hostage situation.

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The United States is not a democracy in the sense that Athens was under Pericles (I persume that’s the time frame you have in mind – about 50 years). The United States is a representative republic. Nor were the Greek city-states were predominantly “democratic” – certainly Sparta wan’t.
    If you are looking for historical examples of how “democracies” (in your parlance – representative systems in mine) have behaved you need to look no futher that the wars in 19-th and 20-th centuries:
    -UK against France
    -Unified Germany against France
    – US against UK
    – USA against CSA
    – US against Mexico
    – US against Spain
    – UK against the Boers
    – US, UK, France, Italy against Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire
    – Japan against China
    – Japan against US
    And I am not even going to mention NATO war against Yugoslavia.
    The antagonists above were all enjoying some form of “democracy” – representative republic at the time of the hostilities. These are much better guides than the slave-owning, pedophile Greeks of 2500 years ago – in my opinion.

  59. fasteddiez says:

    I watched the good general on Hardball the other day, and he was unusually all over the place in his presentation…schizophrenic, even. Now, Chris Matthews can be a hack sometimes, especially when war-gaming the “who’s on first, what’s on second” pre- election jousting with his fellow pundits. On the GWOT and Iraq though, he comes across as a true believer in the anti-war camp, and is always dogged in deconstructing brainless talking points barfed up by administration hacks. He made McCaffrey sound inconsistent, vague, and alas, beholden to the MAN.
    The general is taking these trips to Iraq specifically in order to brief members of the NCA, so his findings must be tailored to please. If you take Ceasar’s coin, you must spin Caesar’s COIN.

Comments are closed.