"In an interview, he (BG Brooks) said that while military planners had expected to make greater gains by now, that has not been possible in large part because Iraqi police and army units, which were expected to handle basic security tasks, like manning checkpoints and conducting patrols, have not provided all the forces promised, and in some cases have performed poorly.
That is forcing American commanders to conduct operations to remove insurgents from some areas multiple times. The heavily Shiite security forces have also repeatedly failed to intervene in some areas when fighters, who fled or laid low when the American troops arrived, resumed sectarian killings.
“Until you have the ability to have a presence on the street by people who are seen as honest and who are not letting things come back in,” said General Brooks, referring to the Iraqi police units, “you can’t shift into another area and expect that place to stay the way it was.”
When planners devised the Baghdad security plan late last year, they had assumed most Baghdad neighborhoods would be under control around July, according to a senior American military officer, so the emphasis could shift into restoring services and rebuilding the neighborhoods as the summer progressed.
“We were way too optimistic,” said the officer, adding that September is now the goal for establishing basic security in most neighborhoods, the same month that Bush administration officials have said they plan to review the progress of the plan." NY Times
Yes, Kevin, the war is a contest of wills. Having said that, it is also true that American popular support for the war will not continue if the methods being used do not appear to be effective.
So far, there is little non-PR evidence that the Kagan/Keane/Petraeus plan is "clearing" Baghdad of insurgent and militia control.
If that continues into September, the war will lose so much support that a catastrophic ending will become inevitable.
Before that happens, a shift to a "Fight, fight – Talk, talk!) strategy would be advisable. Yes. I am talking again about seeking a regional solution. pl
It’s pounding your head against the wall time.
After four years and three tours, you’d think that the officers and troops would get it. Iraqis hate their foreign overlords. Reported three years ago; Sunnis and Shi’ites are united in believing that America and “the Jews” are responsible for the violence, because of the belief that America wants to remain in Iraq and needs a pretext, hence it will provoke a civil war. The Jews are blamed for everything, because they’re Jews.
Shi’ite Iraqi police surreptitiously planting bombs is inevitable. They want the invaders gone. If American troops stop ethnically cleansing the Sunni or attack the Shi’ite militia, all hell will break lose.
Americans cannot see the building catastrophe in Iraq unless they read between the lines in the corporate media propaganda.
“We were way too optimistic.” Talk about an understatement! And, mon general, we’re supposed to be surprised that the surge is coming short? “Hurry, somebody…run around and put more lipstick on the pig!”
Col Lang, I do contest your observation, “Yes, Kevin, the war is a contest of wills. Having said that, it is also true that American popular support for the war will not continue if the methods being used do not appear to be effective.” There is NO popular support. It has virtually evaporated with the remaining charade only held together by lack of stomach to do what is needed, arrogance, and blind babble from the Commander dude. Shame on our politicians-all of them, and shame on us for not falling out into the streets and raising holy hell for the sun coming up on one more day of this obscenity.
I do understand all too well, however, how this travail rolls on. Ninety-nine percent plus of the US public have NO stake or investment in this war. The burden is only borne by the servicemen and women and their families…period. While I’m confidant the overwhelming majority of the American public could probably name the last American Idol, I am even more sure that few if any could find Al Anbar on a map or name three major US Brigade-size units deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s true what young Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville said so long ago, “A democracy gets the kind of government it deserves.”
I don’t know where you live, but I run into a lot of people in my part of the cuontry who still cling to this war. I have had pwoplw who should know better insist that “those WMDs are out there. They just have not been found yet..”
No. september will do it, for the great majority. pl
Yes, and as I recall, it was Mr. Petreaus who was responsible for training and equipping the Iraqi security forces before his little sabatical at Ft Leavenworth…
The surge will be made to look good with the obligatory “progress” in the reports coming from Gen. Petraeus et al in Sept to keep the surge going for another 6-9 months. They’ll have all the obvious outs also – “we can’t say for sure but things are looking up and we need another 6-9 months to know for sure.”
Enough “progress” will be reported by Sept to keep most of the Repubs on board and the Commander Guy will maintain the PR that has worked so well when playing with the Dems in Congress.
We may just need to come to terms that this is going to be a multi-decade occupation and neither the Decider or Congressional Repubs or Dems or the next President is going to change the equation that much. We will have some tinkering around the edges but basically it will be more of the same for a long time. Unless the American people wake up from their general apathy and directly challenge the politicians in a more direct manner.
It looks as if the Neo-Cons “flypaper theory” is working. Only in reverse. We’re spending a billion and a half dollars a week so that they can kill our soldiers there instead of having to come here.
Col., I think the third of the country who still support the war must live in your part of the world…..they certainly don’t live out west; most of the western cowboys who were war-happy are now war-exhausted (even those strange Texans are having a change of heart according to my Texas friends). They for the most part recognize the BS, but it’s just hard for them to accept how fully they’ve been duped by Geo., Dick, and their pals. I think come September, the unhappy 2/3 of the nation are going to start getting more and more vocal. At least, I hope so!
I assume the Kevin you refer to is the same Kevin who wrote this sentence:
Do not be derailed by an increase in American KIAs; coalition casualties do not mean squat<<< They don't "mean squat"? They don't "mean squat?". Hmmmm. An interesting, and, one might hope, unique, perspective. And people wonder how we got in this mess. This Kevin, et al, will have us 'cash checks' forever just to prove we have the ability to do so.
Perhaps it’s time to quote Martin Van Creveld — an Israeli who certainly has the talent to look over the horizon. ‘Tis tragic that he is ignored by Israelis (and Americans)– much to their (our) peril.
Here speaketh Van Creveld in Nov. 05:
“For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president’s men. If convicted, they’ll have plenty of time to mull over their sins.”
No matter how they try to dress it up, Washington was warned before invading Iraq how it could all go wrong, they just chose to put on the rose-colored glasses and invade anyway:
“Before War, CIA Warned of Negative Outcomes
Analysts in 2002 Described Worst-Case Scenarios, Including Anarchy in Iraq, Global Antipathy to U.S”
“By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 3, 2007
On Aug. 13, 2002, the CIA completed a classified, six-page intelligence analysis that described the worst scenarios that could arise after a U.S.-led removal of Saddam Hussein: anarchy and territorial breakup in Iraq, a surge of global terrorism, and a deepening of Islamic antipathy toward the United States…..
“We had no way of knowing then how the situation on the ground in Iraq would evolve.”
Nor, he (Tenet) adds, was the CIA privy to subsequent administration actions in Iraq “that would help make many of these worst-case scenarios almost inevitable.”
I’d say that it was “almost inevitable” indeed.
Michale Lind raises the larger strategic question of the post-Iraq debacle:
“Beyond American Hegemony”
“If the Iraq War is seen as merely a bad application of a fundamentally sound U.S. grand strategy of hegemony, the United States will set itself up for other self-inflicted disasters in the future.”
The strategists who read no strategic history are doomed to repeat it.
World conventional oil production has been flat sice 5\2005. Iraq is sitting on top of the largest light sweet proven crude reserves on the planet. Under “stable” conditions, Iraq is capable of 5-7 MBD production. All major private oil companies are seeing there reserves decline without any decent prospects other than Iraq. The empire will NOT let go of this vital prize period! We are in this deal to the bitter end regardless of “public” opinion. One event alone will change “public” opinion on a dime. Gas lines anyone?
World conventional oil production has been flat sice 5\2005. Iraq is sitting on top of the largest light sweet crude reserves on the planet. Under “stable” conditions, Iraq is capable of 5-7 MBD production. All major private oil companies are seeing there reserves decline without any decent prospects other than Iraq. The empire will NOT let go of this vital prize period! We are in this deal to the bitter end regardless of “public” opinion. Public opinion can turn on a dime…Gas lines anyone?
It could have been a wonderful foreign policy implementation: a grateful country in middle-east with plenty of oil, a win-win situation for both people, except the Americans were poisoned by the 911 events and their own hatreds and prejudices came to surface in Iraq. One common thread that can be seen through most of US actions in Iraq has been primal arrogance and visceral hate of all things Islamic. It wont be too long before US comes to its senses, no less than by men in sandels, and learn to live with the fact that the energy resources are limited and must be shared. Yes, US prosperity is fundamental but so is other people’s right to retaliate for the sake of their own prosperity. A very bold foreign policy act by a group of people who were not up to the task. And then we have people of Iraq, or at least a slice of the population, who are going to show the US the limit of conventional weapons technology. Other than all out genocide, this project is finished. US military can always pat itself on the back by reminding people that it did not use all the arrows in its quiver. Of course nuclear option is always there.
Unfortunately, Iraq provides us with one of the best possible examples of the worst possible approach to going to war on this planet. If we don’t learn from this excruciating experience then our wonderful nation will truly become a has-been and, whether or not we are willing to face it, we are already mighty close to that point right now.
Our great leader where the buck ostensibly should stop is a rumble seat good old boy manipulated by a vicious and ignorant house of horrors gang of bullying white collar (as distinguished from the common brand, but not deserving the appellation of “intellectual”) thugs. The lesson here is, the American people get who they vote for (ostensibly), including all the carry on baggage (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, and peripheral dragonfly Perle, among the most instrumental in precipitating disaster).
Decisions to go to war must NEVER be done at the drop of a hat. They are matters of grave importance, involving life and death and the rise and fall of nations.
Intelligence must ALWAYS be carefully scrutinized and questioned in face-to-face sessions that include NOT just the people whose agendas are likely to cloud the facts, but the analysts, who personally work the assessments. The Battleship Maine and Mayaguez are two good past examples of failure to do this, but Iraq’s WMD’s provide one of the best bad examples in all world history.
Even after considering intelligence on ostensible key issues there are other serious determinants that may, in the overall picture, be just as important — issues that can determine overall success or failure and that involve substantive prior planning. Some examples have been the precipitate effort to democratize the undemocratic, tribal makeup of the Iraqi population and the disbandment of the Iraqi army, which has been a significant factor in the ongoing insurgency/civil war (had we kept the army, AQ might have been snuffed out early on and the Mahdi militias might have been better kept at bay).
Unfortunately, even bigger problems lie in our own back yard — leadership issues that allowed and even ensured that all this would transpire in the first place – arrogant, bullying key civilian leaders and excessively subservient, toadying military “leaders” and lesser civilian officials (Colin Powell belongs here because of his acculturation in the military can-do, yes sir three bags full environment. He is sadly accompanied by the lesser likes of George Tenet).
It may even be that the worst is yet to come from all this — America’s image is clearly tarnished in perhaps more ways than we have even considered to date. Our technologically superior military second to none has revealed our nation’s achilles heal — the need for, and lack of, human versus high tech solutions. Furthermore, the blood, sweat, and treasure we have dumped into this garbage pit may leave us more vulnerable to greater potential threats around the world.
Personally, I consider the most serious issue to come out of all this to be lack of sound leadership, and I think it is a reflection of the spoiled nature of our body politic at this time in history and the failure of our educational philosophy as relates to the concerns of citizenship and all it should include.
The tragedy of the Roman general Varus and the Teutoburger Wald massacre is that he trusted his German auxiliary troops to an unhealthy extent. All colonial or neo-colonial occupations must rely upon native troops. Unfortunately, these troops always have their own agendas, which are often at odds with the interests of the occupying power. Varus forgot that.
One wonders if the American people will have cause to emulate Caesar Augustus and bay, “George W. Bush, give us back our legions!”
With the greatest of respect, the full horror of what is going to happen to America is not yet apparent to Americans. There are dangerous assumptions being made.
Even among “liberals” there appears to be an assumption that the decision to leave Iraq is ours to make when the reality is that we may be forced out.
But worst of all, there is the assumption that after we leave, we can simply put our feet up and relax in front of the TV with a beer. Life is not ever going to return to a pre 911 “normal”, thanks to irrevocable decisions taken by George W Bush, the worst of which will prove to be his decision to invade Iraq. These decisions have unleashed forces that will rearrange the middle east – and not in our favor.
I can understand the simplistic rationale for the invasion. We are past peak oil, according to a petrogeologist researcher I know. Saudi told us ten years ago they had 200 bn barrels of reserves. In the last ten years they have pumped 100 bn barrels (or whatever) yet their official position is that their reserves are unchanged. There is more oil out there I know, my friend tells me that everyone knows roughly where it is, but it is going to be progressively more expensive to extract.
Demand for oil is increasing as China and India develop. The American Empire runs on oil, in the same way that the Roman empire, at its core, ran on wheat imported from Egypt. When the supply fails, so does the empire.
Given the paucity of the American economy, America simply may not even be able to pay the price demanded for oil in the future since the Chinese, Indians and smarter people are using oil to produce tradeable goods, not to drive down to the shopping mall.
So after Iraq what? It’s anyone’s guess who will control Iraq’s oilfields. It’s anyones guess what Al Qaeeda, perhaps strengthened and educated in Iraq, will do in Saudi Arabia, and it’s anyone’s guess what Iran, as the regions leading power, will do. “Gas lines?” indeed!
In the face of the knowledge of declining oil availability and higher prices, what would a prudent American Government have done, starting perhaps fifteen years ago? It’s pretty obvious, renewable energy sources, higher taxes to force people into smaller cars, higher and mandatory targets for energy efficiency in homes, nuclear energy and a vastly expanded electrically powered public transport system.
Where is the intercity network of 300 mph trains? Is anyone seriously trying to imagine life without oil in America? It would appear that the vested interests that own the American Government, Democratic or Republican, will see to it that nothing happens, and when the crunch comes, they will get into their yachts and sail to more sensible climes, leaving the empire to tear itself apart.
Sorry for the Jeremiad, but ferchrissake I wish people would wise up about whats being done to them. Every time I see a Dodge Ram V10 pickup, I want to puke.
i suspect the public debate on iraq has been reframed
the “surge” has been replaced with “korea-like” long-term bases which have been being built without discussion by media or congress (could be nominated for world’s best kept non-secret”
how will “permanent american bases in iraq” be perceived by regional players?
don’t the “shia” fears of sunni governments and israel work against a regional accomodation?
This is an exceedingly grim thread. I am struck by the pervasive gloom with which Bush has engulfed our nation. The question, for me, is whether the defective policies over the past six years are structural or individual or, perhaps, are a perfect storm of the worse of both. I think this important as many embrace the assumption that a change of leadership will make a real difference. Seems to me that the iron triangle (Congress-industry-military) is bipartisan, the foreign policy establishment differs more on means than on ends (X will do a better job than Y), and equal justice before the law seems relative (as revealed in the long series of crime-gates).
I have held and continue to hold the opinion that President Bush will push, pull, drag, or kick Iraq past the finish line—January 20, 2009—no matter what he has to say or do, or, what he has to have others say or do. If, in my opinion, he can hang on until the primaries early next year, he can pull his head back into the shell. Surge results have crept from early summer to early fall to late in the year and beyond. Moreover, his popularity looks as if it will continue to tank no matter what he does. So, he just seems to want to postpone a day of reckoning until after the primary season begins. Of course, the Republican Party risks a good old fashioned drubbing, but at least he can say he didn’t pull the plug on poor old comatose Iraq.
A regional solution, rationally, might help us out of this quagmire. If only someone with gravitas could step forward for the good of the nation. Sorry, fell asleep for a minute and remembered the argument for putting Cheney on the ticket in 2000.
One of the strangest bits of fiction continuously spoken is that the U.S. needs to train Iraqi security forces.
Back when the Baath Party was well underway in Iraq, it received advice from the Stasi, which was East Germany’s Department of Homeland Security. And the contact person in the Baath Party for this help and training was none other than Saddam Hussein.
The East German Stasi was known as one of the most pervasive internal security departments of modern times. Thus, the Iraqis, at least in the form of the Baath Party main structure, know as much about “security” as anyone in the whole wide world. Put another way, there is not any “security training” that the U.S. can give the Iraqis that they don’t already know.
The Iraqis are aware that certain U.S. military bases in Iraq sure look like they are designed to be permanent. And the so-called U.S. Embassy, which is to become the largest in the world, is not fooling anybody about what it really is.
There is broad and deep opposition to the Iraq war among “genuine” conservatives, including farmer and rancher types in Texas about which I have personal knowledge.
But since the executive branch of the federal government makes its decisions on what it can get away with, public opinion is not relevant, unless it translates into clear action by Congress. However, to date, Congress has done nothing and has fully funded the war through September, even though some Republicans lost elections last year. And the major broadcast and print media still support and deliberately promote the war and its real objectives.
This means that the U.S. soldiers and their families, and the taxpayers, will continue to suffer, because the Iraqi resistance will “surge” in its own way.
But don’t you see? Technology will save us from Peak Oil, and nano-bots will be swimming in our bloodstreams repairing organs by 2030. (close sarcasm tag/)
I believe Cheney sold the Iraq-M.E. invasion to US elites as a way to defend against the growth of India and China, to hold them on a leash with locked-up oil. Unfortunately anybody with a map can see that the pipelines are the new trenchlines, and the Mid-East geography doesn’t favor the US. Russia, India, Iran, China get to fight on the cheap. While we hollow out our domestic economy, they get stronger. When we can’t hold onto the prize any longer, they can just waltz in and win contracts for the nearby oil. They’ll be greeted with flowers and chocolates.
People in the US aren’t connecting the dots between why the National Guard can’t clean up a town in Kansas and why it can’t clean up Anbar, Diyala, Baghdad. Here are some talking points for your war-supporting neighbors and acquaintances:
– the price of building materials is up 40% this year because Halliburton is buying them all up and using them on wasted aid for Iraq
– food is up so much because oil’s up so much, and oil is up because the Bush Administration can’t get it out like they promised
– the people in that tornado town in Kansas can’t get help because all their National Guard equipment was sent to the Mid-East
Someone may try to argue the talking points above. Good. Let them. They’re true enough, and I’ve actually heard the first point made by a former war supporter. They don’t need to know how bad it’s going to get. They just need to focus their anger on the right parties. I hope Pat is right about September.
“The empire will NOT let go of this vital prize period! We are in this deal to the bitter end regardless of “public” opinion. Public opinion can turn on a dime…Gas lines anyone?”
Uh, Steve, there comes a time, recently popularly posited as the “tipping point” when things are no longer in the control of those who imagined they ever held the reins. It appears to me that your current government and any potential replacement are so venal, corrupt and incompetent that that point was reached long ago. Sadly, your population appears so insensate that only more consumption, and more enemies may sate or distract them respectively from what they don’t even pay attention to in the first place. Lobsters in a pot indeed. So I’m with stanley henning above that “the worst is yet to come.”
And from what is slowly penetrating the dim recesses of my thinker, it seems to me that WW IV is well and truly joined. After a the climax of the disaster in Iraq, and an interregnum of humiliating and pathetic self-absorbed American reflection during which none of the miscreants who brought us to this sorry pass is held accountable in any manner whatsoever, ‘the West’ will have to return to the region in force, and fight until the locals are exhausted, the jihadis destroyed, the Israelis chastened and America really learns just what the metes and bounds of ‘self-interest’ truly are.
After that, Africa will have to be repaired. After that, the limits of ‘growth’ and ‘national sovereignty’ will have to be worked out on a global scale, whatever the Indians Chinese and Big Oil may wish.
Of course any little thing may render even that impossible, and usher in some truly dark ages, periodically illuminated by various and sundry whackos armed with a little ingenuity, incandescent rage and nanotechnology.
It pains me to say this, because I’m an armchair warrior bleeding heart civil libertarian who is just now coming to understand that civil rights and democracy will take a back seat to cold blooded power politics driven by necessity rather than law or ideology. And it really f****n’ pisses me off, because I see America and American Idol to blame way more than the clever little buggers who lashed together 9/11, while PNAC was hatched, Bush fantasized, Cheyney et al plotted and the Lobby metastasized.
We are Pogo, and Murphy is in charge. Thank my little pagan gods that I’m middle aged and don’t have children, because I sure don’t envy the next few generations. Never mind gas lines, think draft lines and food lines.
MarcLord said: “- food is up so much because oil’s up so much, and oil is up because the Bush Administration can’t get it out like they promised”
That’s what I don’t understand about the threat to ivade Iran. It’ll only make oil more scarce.
(Great piece, Jeremiah!)
Don’t know if such is apropos in this thread, but here a few civilian questions posed to any military experts:
1. Are the tactics, tradition, history and strategic aims of the US Green Berets the same as those of the IDF?
2. If there is a difference, then does the pre-emptive attack on Iraq launched by the USG reflect more closely the thinking of the Green Berets or that of the IDF?
3. If the political leadership of the USG has abandoned the tradition of the USM and Green Berets, then does such trigger a moral obligation within to speak out publicly? More provocatively, I suppose, I ask such a question with the following words of Sun Tzu in mind: “…if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight, even at the ruler’s biddings.”
This is an excellent thread, bravo all. Regional solution is the way to go for sure but…
1.Will The Decider decide this.
2.Will the Explainer to the Decider (Condi) recommend this and insist on it over the “advice” of our Strangelove VP whose “precious bodily fluids” seem to be holding up so far with the stents.
3.Will the Explainer to the Explainer, Elliott Abrams, the Neocon prince, sign off and explain it to Condi?
4. Will the Counsellor to the Explainer to the Decider (Elliot Cohen) counsel this to Condi?
It seems to me that major powers/great powers can impact positively or negatively on regional matters. For example, is it within Russia’s power to hinder or to help on Iraq? Is Putin disposed to help given the current neo-Cold War being launched by Washington?
and the drivel from the CFR
Is the US engaged in serious diplomacy with Iran and Syria at this time? Or are we just in a Rovian perception management mode for the masses?
MAsif, your comment “One common thread that can be seen through most of US actions in Iraq has been primal arrogance and visceral hate of all things Islamic” rightly applies, I think, to the Neocons and their ilk. I do not think that most Americans feel this way, with the exception of some Fundamentalist white trash. There was a time two centuries ago, as I have noted on other threads, that these United States signed a treaty with Tunis the first three words of which being “God is infinite.” Our very first foreign friend, aside from the French, was Morocco and George Washington himself corresponded with the Muslim ruler there. Did we not constructively engage the Muslim world, Sunni and Shia, setting up educational institutions, charitable works, and mutually beneficial commerce when the Euros were imperializing away back in the 19th century? Since 1948, there have been problems, certainly.
the people in that tornado town in Kansas can’t get help because all their National Guard equipment was sent to the Mid-East
And their little dog, too.
General Petraeus has reportedly said:
‘You have not even seen the start of real operations.’
– Gen. David Petraeus
Just what exactly has he been doing since the “surge” supposedly began?
URL below to a relatively upbeat analysis of new US-Iran talks:
Gary Sick Lays Out Probabilities in US-Iran Arena
Mabye that will relieve some of the gloom. I hope it is correct.
MAsif and Clifford, the hatred has been generated by ‘the mighty Wurlitzer’ out of necessity-finding an existential threat to replace communism: if you recall, the mujhadeen were one example of Reagan’s ‘freedom fighters’ (the Contras were another, but that’s a different tentacle)
Walrus – you asked “is anybody seriously trying to envision what life would be like without oil in America?”
I would say off the top of my head, yes. Where do you live, Walrus? I live in the much-maligned SF Bay Area, where we have freaks running old Mercedes on used french-fry oil, and recycling graywater to grow lettuces, and installing solar power on the roofs of a hundred thousand buildings (see my local hardware store in Oakland – $100K worth of solar panels on top, paid for with much help from the city), and putting up windmills, etc. etc. You can also sell your cars and use City Car Share – I just saw somebody carting home a sofa in a City Car Share pickup the other night.
We even have a plan in the works for high speed LA-San Francisco rail but for some reason we can’t seem to find the 9 or 20 billion or whatever we need to fund it. The Iraq war could have paid for high speed rail for the whole country…
Over at Daily Kos the people developed a multi-part energy plan for America, with legislative action items, etc. This was a grass-roots, mass-mind, internet-based program and it is bogglingly detailed and intelligent. Google Jerome a Paris and Energy for America at Kos.
My husband’s best friend, an energy analyst at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, was just recruited by a massive Bay Area petroleum company to build out their renewable energy business.
Applied Materials in Santa Clara (the Silicon Valley) announced they’re going to re-tool their computer chip-making equipment to produce photovoltaic cells, hoping to bring down the price of solar.
Etc., etc. etc.
I don’t happen to believe that technology will solve everything – we will have to adapt our lifestyles, and we will have to get out of the damn cars, walk to the store, and maybe do our shopping in the neighborhood rather than via freeway.
But yes, people are indeed thinking about these things. And those people have been maligned, insulted and dismissed by right-wingers for a generation. But when the oil runs out it will be those “freaks” who will save us.
I think they show true American ingenuity and self-reliance, not “freakishness,” but that’s just me.
From a Norwegian point of view, to hear americans complaining about your gasprices is really funny: Over here we pay +/- 7 dollars pr. gallon, and we are one of the worlds larger oil-producers. ANd seriously, to all you fellow military folks out there, the coming 20 years of climate-change will be a hell of a bigger war, casualty-wise, than this one.
Got A Watch,
thanks a lot for Michael Lind’s article ‘Beyond American Hegemony’, it is excellent.
I read Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback again last week, and it makes some more sense after reading Linds article.
Lind’s elaborations explain perfectly well the reasons for America’s ambivalence towards a European defense structures. The old burden-sharing argument from the cold war doesn’t make much sense – in a hegemonic reading this is to be discouraged, as long as it is out of US control.
It also suggests to me that todays anti-Russian drumbeat and the missiles defense discussion from the US is first of all aimed on undermining Germany’s flirt with Russia, starting under chancellor Schröder, and still continuing under Merkel’s grand coalition.
The putative ‘threat’ by Iran is all but a pretext to put defense missiles into Europe, which will anger Russia (because it will undermine their nuclear deterrent) and chill NATO-Russian relations, intentionally. The idea of US encroachment into into Russia’s backyard, and NATO expansion on Russia’s front lawn was a silly idea to begin with. I have always been sceptical. It is made even sillier in that it broke US guarantees to Russia. It is granted that Russia can’t like this. It is a deliberate attempt to drive a wedge between central Europe and Russia, a mix of reassurance and dissuation of allies by evil (if fictious) proxy. Ahmedinejad makes for a great scarecrow.
It also shows that little has changed since the Cold War, in that all the political liberty and human rights rhetoric is still primarily (ab)used as a rhetorical fighting ideology – to use Walser’s words, as a ‘moral mace’, to put an opponent on the moral defense – that is, merely a means to an end.
That also suggests that reality is still utterly irrelevant to policy decisions: To accept the fiction of an Iranian missile threat reaps political benefits even in the utter absence of such a threat. The non-genocide Clinton, Albright and our then all-too-eager defense secretary Scharping saw in Jugoslavia to justify the bombing campaign made perfect sense even in it’s absense. Lying isn’t a neo-conservative domain. Policy fictions are bipartisan standard. The neo-cons are just more upfront about it.
Europe! Listen up: The Russians not only don’t want you to be safe from Iran, they are beating up demonstrators and violate human rights!
And I was just about to become an idealist again…. 🙁
Make of it what you will but Sun Tzu sayeth:
“In all history, there is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. Only one who knows the disastrous effects of a long war can realize the supreme importance of rapidity in bringing it to a close.”
Your $7/gallon is not going to Exxon or Saudi Arabia; $3+ of it is going to mass tranist or other government sources, which our conservatives would never approve of due to ideology. They blew a gasket when the Clinton administration tried to float a $0.25 gallon tax back when gas was $1/gallon.
Americans patrolling a post-apocalyptic Baghdad; swimming polar bears; gasoline price surge; they are all intertwined. Big Oil and the Military Industrial Complex will cut and dice the USA before Energy Independence, Global Peace and Secure Borders are even discussed let alone become goals for a Survivable American Future.
To add to what you said in your post about the SF Bay area – the big time venture capitalists like John Doerr that enabled the semiconductor, communications and software innovations are getting into what they call “cleantech” in a big way. Kleiner, Perkins the most premier Silicon Valley venture capital fund has already invested over $100 million in this sector that covers everything from solar, clean water, biofuels, nanomaterials, etc. As a result entrepreneurs will come up with the innovations as part of the overall solution.
But the key will be us citizens of the planet changing our lifestyles. One would be to support our local farmers and eat seasonal produce. There’s no need to eat grapes in winter shipped thousands of miles in refrigerated containers and harvested before their time.
The Norwegians are a very smart people. You have created a fund from the oil profits for all your people not just for the “few” who will still get a large slice of the profits. Pricing oil at $7/gal probably also makes sense since it may represent the “real” costs of a fossil fuel. As a citizen I would be happy to pay a carbon tax that would provide economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions and would apply across all carbon sources. But unfortunately the tax demagogues in my country will make any politican that proposed such an idea rue the day they mentioned it.
Walrus asked, “Is anyone seriously trying to imagine life without oil in America?”
About three years ago, when a gallon of gas was around $2 USD, I guessed correctly that prices would rise. I sold my old home in the suburbs, moved to within 6 miles of my job downtown, sold my car, and for 2 years now have bicycled to work daily, in all weather conditions. Others at my workplace are now asking questions about my commute, and are investigating similar actions.
So at least one American has imagined this scenario, and I have others starting to at least think about it. There are options besides driving smaller cars.
But I agree a “post-peak-oil” energy policy is overdue, and, if done right, would strengthen US security.
zansibar, fred: I dont mean to sound smug, but I prefer a socialdemocratic model to the objectivist ultra-capitalist one. My grandfather was a commie 😉
The almost oligarchic system you seem to have going in the US these days does not seem to be functioning properly. As I analyze it, you have way to much power to the chosen few ultraconnected politicos and moneymen. It is destroying your state. You really really need to get your s&%t together over there , if you all will pardon the term. Where did those aeroplanes full of dollarbills go should be a first question.
The number of our Troops getting killed by IED”S is disgusting and heart breaking..Sending our troopers out on patrol in Hummers is just inviting the enemy to kill them..at will..all they have to do is watch patrol routes and
wait for a Hummer to drive by..( No Iraqi Vehicles are getting blown up)it
happens week after week..
and its a Turkey shoot for the enemy..I can’t imagine having to climb into a Hummer over there ..anticipating getting blown up every minue you are on Patrol..or being the Spouse or family member of a Trooper on Patrol in iraq..
The Killers in Iraq made sure that Our Memorial day weekend would indeed be remembered..by Killing/Mudering 10 American Troopers on Memorial Day..
A Deliberate and Planned Showing of Contempt for the United States..
They had the “Opportunity” they had the “Target” and we should have anticipated that type of Response from a Brutal Enemy that enjoys killing Americans and Humuliating the United States.. We should have kept all Patrols on Base over Memorial Day weekend..and we should stop sending Hummers out to get blown up every week..Its STUPID..
The Bush Neo Cons do not seem to care..They are still getting away with thier “PLAN” (Conspiracy) to permanetly occupy Iraq and find ways to prolong the War ..
Thier objective is Clearly STAY & STALL..
They LIE and PEOPLE DIE..There is nothing to “WIN”
The only Winner is the GRIM REAPER..in all this NEO~CON CREATED CHAOS..
The all this Bush Administration has “ACCOMPLISHED”..
DEATH BY DECEPTION..
It is not difficult for the Russians to counter the threat posed by missile defence to their nuclear ‘deterrent’. The principal danger is that the means they are liable to take, in squaring the circle between maintaining the ‘deterrent’ and avoiding a repeat of the Cold War experience of ruination from overspending on defence, involve great risks for us all.
A recent article by Alexander Zaitchik points to the way that last year’s article in Foreign Affairs on The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy by Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press has shaped Russian perceptions of U.S. missile defence programmes. (See http://www.exile.ru/2007-March-23/russia_goes_ballistic.html). This article, Zaitchik writes, ‘explained clearly and unabashedly why the missile defense system is not only obviously geared toward Russia (and China), but furthermore that the system will finally allow the U.S. to launch a “successful” first nuclear strike against Russia without worrying about retaliation, giving the U.S. total world nuclear supremacy.’
Unsurprisingly, the Russians are working on ICBMs capable of penetrating missile defences. But, as Zaitchik notes, there are cheaper options:
“Chief of the General Staff Yuriy Baluyevskiy has said Russia will unilaterally withdraw from INF if the U.S. proceeds with its missile defense plans in Russia’s backyard. Doing his Bush impersonation, top presidential candidate and first vice premier Sergei Ivanov has already called the INF “a relic of the Cold War.” If Russia does abandon the treaty, it will likely revive the Oka, a very fast and easily targeted short-range weapon known as the “Kalashnikov of missiles.” You really wouldn’t want a nuclear-tipped Oka to get commandeered by the wrong sort of people. Even a drooling Qaeda-tard like Richard Reid could probably launch one. Among the serious downsides of any new arms race will be a world awash in more assembled nuclear weapons and material in an age of nuclear terror.
“All of which is not to say that Russia is some poor little cuddle-bear that just wants to buy the world a Kvas. Far from it. Yet it is not the one leading this new nuclear waltz. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Steve Hadley can downplay missile defense until they actually believe their own words, but the difference between “defensive” or “offensive” weapons is in the eye of the beholder. And the only beholder that matters is Russia, which can wipe us all off the map a lot faster and easier than Iran or North Korea.”
In fact, the Oka has been revived, in the form of the Iskander-M — and Sergei Ivanov, one of the two front-runners to succeed Putin, attended tests of that missile recently. The significance of abandoning the INF treaty would be that its range could be extended beyond 490km.
What has hitherto stood in the way of — in essence — using Western Europe as a nuclear hostage is concern about possible Western reactions and countermeasures. And it is crucial to remember that, in terms of the Russian political spectrum, Putin is Western (and more particularly European, and German, oriented.) A recent interview with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik’s leading Russian specialist, the excellent Alexander Rahr, was entitled ‘A European in the Kremlin’. But, as Rahr and others have repeatedly warned, there is now very strong support in Russia for an Eastern orientation — an energy alliance with what are seen as the dynamic economies of the East. And certainly, the combination of missile defences being installed on Russian borders, with plans to bring Georgia and the Ukraine into NATO, are reinforcing this support.
A corollary of such an ‘eastern orientation’, of course, might be that concern for Western sensitivities also becomes much less of a constraint on exporting technologies such as the ‘Kalashnikov of missiles’ to places where we don’t want to see them exported!
David Habakkuk :
I think there is also the trend towards militarization of outer space that US, EU, China, Russia, and India are pursuing.
I think it is very very difficult for any Western political leader to look his constituency in the eye and state that there is a need to fund the emplacement of the infrastructure for a (possible) future military conflict in outer space.
Thus the US President invokes the Missile Shield as a protection against Iran and the EU leaders are more than happy to hide behind him but to continue with the militarization of outer space.
Posted by: Patrick Henry | 05 June 2007 at 07:48 PM
Good post PH, and what are actually patrolling? It is called anarchy street?
This reminds me of a combination of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the SDI scam we pulled on Russia. That is, if there are already glitches in the developing technology, is this all just ultra-posturing on both sides, with chips like Russian entrance into the WTO on the table?
Seems to me that this is another bad sign, both for surge and “hearts and minds” thing, and US role as occupation force. How surgical and well targeted can these operations be, and how many parts of Geneva Convention are “quaint” nowadays? Aggressive, serious and comprehensive ‘talk-talk’ with all internal Iraqi factions, and all Iraq’s neighbors, (and resulting influence on internal Iraqi factions) might reduce the need. Along with publicly abandoning the Korea-on-the-Euphrates fantasy.
Number Of U.S. Airstrikes In Iraq More Than Double Rate For 2006
Skip directly to the full story.
By CHARLES J. HANLEY The Associated Press
from Tampa Tribune
(found via Juan Cole’s Informed Comment)
As far the Russian side goes, I do not think this is posturing at all. Their view of missile defence is not that it is intended to provide a reliable defence against all-out attack. Rather they see it as intended as providing a sufficient capability to deal with the Russian capability to respond to a devastating American first strike. So, looking longer term, the technological problems of ABM systems may not alleviate their anxieties.
Current Russian contingency, planning, incidentally, seems to be looking to neutralise to Iskander or the Topol-M to neutralise the ABM capabilities — not to present a wider threat to Europe. The INF treaty is being retained. But that could change.
The perception of a bid for nuclear primacy is having another effect to which far too little attention has been given — it is reinforcing the tendencies for Russia and China to come together. The Chinese until very recently seem to have tended to assume that what was going on between the U.S. and Russia was a kind of ‘spat’ — they are moving towards to thinking there is a serious breakdown in relations. They are also worried about ABM systems in Japan and Australia. Taken together, these two developments provide a real basis for serious military cooperation. In my view, avoiding a coming together of Russia and China should be a central objective of American policy — but the prospect seems to leave people in Washington (and London) strangely unworried.
Rather than consulting the American or British press, one does better to look at the invaluable Asia Times Online. A regular commentator there is the former Indian ambassador to Turkey, M.K. Bhadrakumar. His most recent article, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/IF07Ag02.html is, I think, a sage commentary on current developments.
A deeper problem is that — as opinion in Washington and London seems to be incapable of realising — it is fundamentally misleading to see current Russian foreign policy as the product of lack of ‘democracy’ (just as it is misleading to think that some kind of ‘democratisation’ would eliminate the strategic arguments for Iran to acquire a nuclear capability.) It is a disabling delusion in these capitals that the advent of ‘democracy’ means the advent of U.S.-friendly leaders. This is based on a peculiar religious view of democracy, akin to the Marxist view of socialism. As a basis for policy, it is suicidal. Putin’s reassertion of Russian national interests is popular, and we should get used to the fact.
Some particularly bitter commentary about current American policy comes from the kind of Westernised Russians who, two decades ago, were among the most ardent pro-Westerners. (See for example the website of the liberal journalist Sergei Roy, at http://guardian.psj.ru/.) At that time, it was patently clear that communism was a totally failed experiment. It was also very easy to argue that what had been seen as threats to Russian security — in particular American nuclear capabilities and plans — were a purely defensive response to Soviet policies: that if Russia ceased pointing armies westwards across the Elbe, for example, others might be rather more friendlily disposed. It was in this mood that Gorbachev accepted verbal guarantees that in return for a united Germany, NATO would not expand eastwards — without even asking for anything in writing.
Now the boot is on the other foot. The old ‘hardliners’ can say — we destroyed our military power, and are likely to end up with Ukraine, the cradle of Russian civilisation, incorporated in NATO. Anyone but an idiot, they can say, should have realised that the real enemy was always not communism, but Russia — only a naïve idiot (like Gorbachev) would ever have trusted the West. (Someone down in Hell, perhaps, Stalin is laughing.) And of course, once the U.S. is perceived as exploiting the decline in Russian military capabilities to neutralise its strategic ‘deterrent’, the way in which the Yeltsin government chose to marketise the economy looks even more lunatic than it would in any case do. And inviting in Harvard economists to tell you how to liberalise looks rather like opening the door to the Trojan Horse ….
Much more than posturing, I fear, is at issue, in Russian attitudes. If you don’t believe me, try look at the latest commentary by the Russian-based fund manager Eric Kraus, which is entitled ‘The Breaking Point’. (See http://nikitskyfund.com/content/blogsection/4/37/).
On the militarization of outer space, I agree. I think, like putting ABM systems into Poland and Czechoslovakia, this is lunacy. The effect of current directions of policy, moreover, will be encourage proliferation. Sooner or later this greatly increases the risks of nuclear weapons being used between states, or falling into the hands of terrorists and being used by them.
As to the Europeans. The point about us is that we are institutionalised. After half a century in which there were two extraordinarily brutal wars, Western Europe enjoyed a half century of extremely benign American hegemony. We are no more capable of serious acting for ourselves than people who have been, as it were, incarcerated in a happy children’s home. Confronted by directions in U.S. policy which threaten a total breakdown of relations with Russia — and perhaps the disintegration of the Ukraine — we either act in ways which further the process (Britain) or pretend it is not happening (Germany).
And how about the 100,000 Afghan refugees Iran has expelled since April back to Afghanistan where they can supplement the Pak’s Taliban machine (strategic depth and all that)?
Seems there are about 900,000 more than can be repatriated to Afghanistan from Iran.
“An estimated 1 million Afghan refugees live in Iran…
“The most alarming thing is the gradual increase in the activities of the Taliban in Farah and Nimroz and the return of the Afghan refugees. They are poor and needy and naturally will fuel the Taliban insurgency,” a senior official of an international agency told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity.” http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/IF08Df01.html
Walrus asks: “Is anyone seriously trying to imagine life without oil in America?” A few people are.
Not enough, but that is better than no one at all. And it deserves thinking about, because oil casts a shadow over (or perhaps leaves a slick on ) every aspect of our involvement in
the Middle East, Central Asia, parts of Africa & Latin America, on and on. If America took itself completely off the oil standard, so that we needed precisely no oil whatsover for any purpose, we might still “choose” to be involved in the Middle East.
But we wouldn”t “have” to be involved there.
So..who is seriously imagining life without oil as America drives up, over, and down the far side of Hubbert’s Peak; till we come
to our final rest at the bottom of Hubbert’s Pit?
Congressman Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, for one. I once saw him on CSPAN a couple of years ago speaking
about Peak Oil to a mostly-empty Chamber. He seemed to
grasp the problem.
A social observer/journalist
named James Kunstler has been thinking about life after oil. He has written a
book called The Long Emergency. He has a website
and a blog, maintained separately; both called Clusterfuck Nation.
He has a Manhattanite’s snobbish distaste for suburbs, and he hopes Peak Oil will depopulate them all. His Schadenfreudian Slip shows over and over. Still, he has some good posts and some good commenters among the trolls and the screamers. And he has a good blogroll.
For scholarly analyses of
the oil-depletion picture, there is the Oil Depletion Analysis Center (ODAC),
and The Oil Drum,
and the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO),
Matt Simmons has forced some attention onto these issues all by himself. He is
an energy (primarily oil) banker and researcher in Houston. The Google is probably full of Matt Simmons entries. Here is one:
Here is another oil analyst/bussinessman named Ali Morteza Samsam Bakhtiari, whose expertise centers on Iran and just spreads out from there. Some of his articles are about aspects of Iran other than oil. Has Babak Makhinejad heard of him?
Back to imagining life without oil, an amateur Peak
Oil merchant of fear and doom named Matt Savinar has an interesting website with some worthwhile articles on it. He also sells stuff on it to make a living, which keeps him able to maintain the website. Called Life After The Oil Crash (LATOC).
* * * * * * *
The oil won’t run out all at
once. It will get scarcer, and we will learn to live in
a world of less and less. We will suffer a Revolution of Falling Expectations until we personally adjust. If a critical tipping-point mass of us can adjust personally, we can guide our
country/ies to a national-level adjustment.
Some guardedly optimistic sites about personal energy understanding and adaptation:
The Journey To Forever–
The Energy Guy–
My brain has others in it, but I can’t pull them out just now. But the more people start reading this stuff and spreading it around, the more people will
start imagining life without