This one is one of the more obvious propaganda efforts by the Cheney/Luti/Abrams/Addison wing of the Bush Administration to plant stories in the press that seek to demonize Iran enough to make war with that country seem desirable. According to this tale, Iran, AQ and the Taliban are all just one big happy Muslim family… Any "takers" on that one? pl
And then there is this one, from Ignatius, the generals’ favorite columnist. This is clearly another "plant." In this case it is from the other side of the fence, from the generals and admirals. The "onliest" way that Ignatius could know this is to be told it "authoritatively" for the purpose of floating a trial balloon in the Post. That would be done by the "starmen" and their thinkers to see if there is any receptivity on the part of the "commander guy," who, after all, remains the Commander in Chief. Good luck, fellahs! pl
A gem from the Ignatius article The post-surge policy would, in many ways, track the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton report, which senior administration officials say the president now supports. It also reflects the administration’s recognition that, given political realities in Washington, some policy adjustments must be made.
If they had a post invasion policy which they know they would anyway…….. talk about cloud cockoo land!
ignatius article seems to me to mean more “hang in for the oil”
more use of the military as public opinion tools
“the United States lacks a strong local partner because of the weakness and sectarian base of the Maliki government”
“reconciliation isn’t likely in the time we have available.”
characterizing it as a potential “bipartisan Iraq policy”
it reinforces the ideas expressed in the NPR feature yesterday that outlined a plan to pull troops into enclaves where they would continue training iraq forces”
it was said that this mission would require a deecade at least
“And up through the ground came a bubblin crude.
Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.”
from the ballad of jed clampett
The question is which side has got the president in thrall.
A key to stability is a new “oil law”? The transparency of our occupation is obvious to penquins, nevermind Iraqis. Why would any Iraqi who is legitimate want to grant the US basing rights (Cuba remained an American colony for 60 years because of the Platt Amendment) or adopt an oil law that effectively gives over control of Iraq’s one vital resource? Has anyone considered that any Iraqi who accepts American support is de facto weak and illegitimate?
Cloud cuckoo land doesn’t do this madness justice by even half.
Godwin’s Law notwithstanding, it’s hard not be reminded of the frantic, convoluted scheming to see which of the Third Reich’s satraps would succeed Hitler — even as the Third Reich was consumed by the flames. The similarity being that the political manuevering inside the bunker had absolutely no relationship to the actual military situation outside.
The other similarity being that soldiers will go on dying while the politicians (including the ones with the fancy braid on their uniforms) squabble and plot.
But then, as Hitler supposedly asked one of his generals: Isn’t that what young men are for?
Our political class seems to agree.
Oh no, not this again:
“America’s role will be increasingly to help prepare the Iraqi military to take greater responsibility for securing the country.”
As the famed French Inspector Clouseau used to say in those old Pink Panther movies: “I suspect no one; and I suspect everyone.” Personally, I just suspect everyone.
For instance, I hear of (or see trial balloons touting) a pending “compromise” spending authorization of 95.6 billion dollars for four (4) more months (June through the end of September) of inconclusive and pointless bloodletting in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to my rusty elementary school arithmetic, that comes to an average of 23.9 billion dollars a month.
I perform this little, perfunctory exercise because I previously understood our “war” (i.e., “occupation”) costs to have run in the 8 to 9 billion dollar a month range for the past several years now. So, if I can take that four-month, 95.6 billion dollar figure at face value — and I don’t claim that I can — it possibly means one of two things:
(1) Either our failing and flailing occupation of Muslim countries whose people hate us now costs twice as much as our government has previously let on, or
(2) Our congressional “compromisers” in fact intend to fund this farce at historic levels of expenditure for twice as long as the four months they ostensibly claim.
Either way, it all adds up and divides into more lies, more lies, and more lies. “Lies, damned lies, and statistics,” as they teach in basic economics courses about liars who often figure.
Of course, the announced appropriated amounts typically cited in these regularly scheduled annual “emergencies” (going on five years of them now) could mean something else quite different and even more depressing: like unaccounted billions of dollars simply disappearing down a vast sewer of crony corruption, incompetence, and malfeasance — both uniformed and civilian.
Yes, I do believe I suspect everyone. It seems the most plausible and practical way to proceed through this gathering darkness.
What’s so “new” about this policy?
Sounds like the “we’ll stand down when they stand up” policy put into bullet points.
Powerpoint Rangers are GO!
Maybe my memory is hazy, but weren’t the Taleban and Iran fighting each other back when the former were running Afghanistan?
This reminds me of Kremlinology back in the cold war days of my childhood & young adult years. Regular folks inside Russia also played the game, reading the pronouncements from the official, propaganda-ridden press, trying to make sense of the hidden messages, subplots and alliances reflected through allusion, inference, indirection.
In the Arab world there used to be a lot of that, too – reading the official press to see which way the winds were blowing, and speculating on all the behind-scene machinations among factions in the various repressive governments.
What have we come to?
Yesterday’s page 1 lead in the Daily Telegraph was headlined: “Taliban ‘using missiles from Iran to target British troops’.”
The first two paras read:
“British troops in Afghanistan are being targeted by surface-to-air missiles supplied by Iran, a senior Army source said yesterday.
“Officers in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are supplying hundreds of weapons, including the missiles, to Taliban insurgents, it is believed.”
When one gets to para 7, however, one finds a much more qualified statement:
“There is reporting that leads us to believe a number of agencies, that possibly include Iranian organisations, are significantly supporting the Taliban,” a military intelligence source told The Daily Telegraph.
This seems to suggest that the neocon hold on the Daily Telegraph has survived the departure of Conrad Black. But should one also take the story as evidence that sections of British military intelligence are complicit in the agenda of Cheney et al to precipitate war with Iran?
The current first link is on a Syria/Lebanon piece.
Was the first link (Iran-al-Qaeda) supposed to go to this story?
Iran’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq
That otherwise useless Guardian piece makes a bit more sense if you replace Iran with Saudi Arabia and Tehran with Riyadh. I have tried that:
Saudi Arabia’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq
There is an IAEA meeting this week to discuss the Iran dossier ( and it comes in tandem with El Baradei’s remarks hinting that Iran should be allowed to continue some level of enrichment activity ) as well as a US-Iran ambassadorial meeting in Baghdad over the weekend.
The Guardian story was complemented the very same day by a similar front-page Telegraph story, in which it was alleged that Iran is supplying the Taliban with SAM’s for use against British aviation assets.
The timing, as ever, is everything, and this follows the standard pattern set over the past few years of “scary” or “troubling” Iran stories coinciding with important diplomatic junctures such as IAEA or UNSC meetings.
“The first two paras read”
I’d think that on both sides of the pond
“Paras” are troopers in a British parachute regiment. Most journos here use the shorthand “graf” for paragraph. 😉
Neocons getting their dander up per Iran…at a conference in the Bahamas end May,
“The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a neo-conservative group created two days after the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, is holding what it calls “a policy workshop” during Congress’ Memorial Day recess, no doubt to plot strategy for moving U.S. policy toward Iran in a direction compatible with its confrontational views.”
Some biographic on FDD at their site,
Comment on a decision on Iran policy by the Decider,
Meanwhile, flowers to decorate with the just remodeled White House Situation Room?
With the extension of tours from a year to fifteen months and the influx of added troops, there will be nye on close to 200k US in Iraq come Christmas. Ignatius’ babble of a post-surge ‘follow-on’ strategy falls before it starts. Regardless of how many Covergirl lipstick tubes the Commander-guy smears on the porker, the surge has not reduced and cannot resolve sectarian violence. Again, this war like all past conflicts is fought on two fronts; one far away with loud noises and one more quietly waged in the media here for the support of the American people. Both are sadly lost.
One of the more far-reaching lingering collateral result’s of the Bush crowd’s broad deception to push us into our current morass is the people’s increasing reflexive reaction to discount whatever the Administration now says. The one thing most corrosive to us as a free people is skepticism gone to cynicism of our representative and apathy in our processes. The national security apparatchiks transparent current efforts to inflate the Iranian threat are now roundly received with acute cynicism by a many that heretofore may have bought it. Many Americans have simply lost faith in the whole national process. November 2008 cannot come quickly enough when this gang of arrogant fools are shown the door.
Ignatius says that this plan is a complement to one being developed in Baghdad between Crocker and Petraeus. There is a story in WaPo on this at :
Juan Cole makes a good assessment of this Baghdad plan in his blog today.
When I served my apprenticeship on the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, and later when working at the Financial Times, we would definitely have said ‘para’. If someone had said ‘graf’, I would have assumed they had misspronounced ‘graph’, and the art department was making up something to illustrate interest rate changes or whatever.
But — that was thirty odd years ago now. So it could be a case of ‘two countries divided by a common language’ — but alternatively I may just be out of date!
Just read that last night, about ten US Navy ships (inclusing 2 carriers) passed the straight of Hormuz.
Navy says that this is part of exercise planned a long time ago.
Any ideas/comments re. this piece of news?
Interesting to also note the disagreement now surfacing between El-Baradei and US/UK/France on the attitude to adopt vis a vis Iran’s nuclear program.
Col, I know you’ve broached this issue of the undying doctrinal rift between Sunnis and Shiites before, and I have missed some of those discussions.
Belatedly, I’d note the following piece I found in ’05 concerning the agreement among influential Moslem leaders to rescind the religious doctrine known as takfir, which puts that doctrinal practice to rest.
According to this article:
The full fatwa against the practice of takfir is published there.
Any comments from you or others on the forum? You might also wish to view
I was just having you on a bit. Forgive this poor colonial. I never learned the King’s English.
Not exactly breaking news, but here is an op/ed from Pakistan’s Daily Times, Feb. 7 of this year,regarding Iran & AQ.
EDITORIAL: Iran and Al Qaeda today
Iran has caught two Al Qaeda terrorists who were making their way from Pakistan, through Afghanistan and Iran, to Iraq, where Al Qaeda is fighting a bloody sectarian war against the Shia. The two were caught on a very familiar route used by Al Qaeda men to go to the Caucasus and Iraq to make things tough for the United States. Of late, however, Iran has been catching the Al Qaeda terrorists and turning them over to the US allies even though not long ago it had sheltered Osama bin Laden’s son and the leader of Al Qaeda’s Iraq jihad, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi.
Ironically, Washington is making ready to accuse Iran of collaborating with Al Qaeda. In fact some observers think that President Bush might be about to order an air attack on Iran. According to them, Vice President Dick Cheney and some conservative think-tanks are in favour of punishing Iran from the US military build-up in the Gulf, while the Defence and State Departments are opposed to any such action.
It also mentions Zarqawi destroying the Askari shrine in Samarra in 2006.
Here’s an interesting article about a popular Kuwaiti cleric, Hamid al-Ali, who among other things, has declared fatwa againt Arab governments allied with American interests, runs a popular site that promotes Jihad, and promotes a very primitive form of Salafi Islam that calls for jihad against non-Arab Muslims, e.g., Iranians (Persians). I think the problem is that followers of this brand of Islam will not recognize the validity of a pan-Islamic fatwa against takfir.
I hadn’t taken offence!
Paragraph is a basic unit of reference in newspaper journalism, so unsurprisingly short forms emerge, and what matters is that everyone in a given situation should use the same one. Americans use the second syllable. The Brits used to use the first. By now they may well have adapted to the American usage. It would not worry me greatly if they had!
Actually, this example is quite interesting, in relation to arguments about the dependence of understanding of messages on precise linguistic knowledge.
Suppose someone said: ‘He cut six paras on the stone and made a bloody mess of it.’
To anyone who worked on British newspapers in the days when union restrictive practices meant that the production technology was Victorian, it is absolutely clear what this means. The ‘stone’ was where the hot metal from linotype machines was assembled, and if a story did not fit the ‘stone sub’ had to make last minute cuts. The statement is obviously a complaint by a reporter at having his story ruined by incompetent editing.
A completely fluent English speaker unfamiliar with these very specific usages might easily be left wondering whether the remark referred to some eccentric SAS initiation ritual!
When translation between languages is at issue, the problems are obviously multiplied. Neither Khrushchev’s famous ‘we will bury you’ nor the statement by Ahmadinejad about Israel which is often translated by the English phrase ‘wipe off the map’ implied a readiness to use nuclear weapons for offensive purposes. But I think it is fair to say that the ambiguities created by translation — and neglect of the context of the statements — made it very easy for them to be interpreted as suggesting that they did. Such translation-induced misunderstandings can be deliberately introduced by people with a vested interested in misrepresenting the intentions of others. But they can also happen very easily even where deliberate misconstruction is not at issue.
Interesting when one considers that AQ and like minded ultra-right wing Salafists hate the Shi’a more than they hate the USA.