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Archive for June 13th, 2007

US Military Riding the Perfect (Sine) Wave

by- Punditman @ 8:35 PM EDT

pundtiman says: You would think they would have learned about the limits of air power by now. After all they have over 60 years of history lessons to draw upon.

by William S. Lind

Looking idly at the front page of last Wednesday’s Washington Post Express as I rode the Metro to work, I received a shock. It showed a railroad station in Iraq, recently destroyed by an American air strike. So now we are bombing the railroad stations in a country we occupy? What comes next, bombing Iraq’s power plants and oil refineries? How about the Green Zone? If the Iraqi parliament doesn’t pass the legislation we want it to, we can always lay a couple of JDAMs on it.

It turns out the bombed railroad station was no fluke. An AP story by Charles J. Hanley, dated June 5, reported that

“U.S. warplanes have again stepped up attacks in Iraq, dropping bombs at more than twice the rate of a year ago. … And it appears to be accomplished by a rise in Iraqi civilian casualties.

“In the first 4 1/2 months of 2007, American aircraft dropped 237 bombs and missiles in support of ground forces in Iraq, already surpassing the 229 expended in all of 2006, according to Air Force figures obtained by The Associated Press.”

Nothing could testify more powerfully to the failure of U.S. efforts on the ground in Iraq than a ramp-up in airstrikes. Calling in air is the last, desperate, and usually futile action of an army that is losing. If anyone still wonders whether the “surge” is working, the increase in air strikes offers a definitive answer: it isn’t.

Worse, the growing number of air strikes shows that, despite what the Marines have accomplished in Anbar province and Gen. Petraeus’ best efforts, our high command remains as incapable as ever of grasping Fourth Generation war. To put it bluntly, there is no surer or faster way to lose in 4GW than by calling in airstrikes. It is a disaster on every level. Physically, it inevitably kills far more civilians than enemies, enraging the population against us and driving them into the arms of our opponents. Mentally, it tells the insurgents we are cowards who only dare fight them from 20,000 feet in the air. Morally, it turns us into Goliath, a monster every real man has to fight. So negative are the results of air strikes in this kind of war that there is only one possible good number of them: zero (unless we are employing the “Hama model,” which we are not).

What explains this military lunacy, beyond simple desperation? Part of the answer, I suspect, is Air Force generals. Jointness demands they get their share of command billets in Iraq, and with very few exceptions they are mere military technicians. They know how to put bombs on targets, but they know nothing else. So, they do what they know how to do, with no comprehension of the consequences.

In fact, the U.S. Air Force recently announced it is developing its own counter-insurgency doctrine, precisely because “some people” are suggesting air strikes are counterproductive in such conflicts. Well, yes, that is what anyone with any understanding of counter-insurgency would suggest. The Air Force, of course, cares not a whit about the realities of counter-insurgency. It cares only about protecting its bureaucratic turf, its myth of “winning through air power” and its high-performance fighter-bombers, which truly are its knights in shining armor, useful only for tournaments.

Once again, we see the U.S. military riding the perfect sine wave. It will seem as if it is beginning to get things right, only to ride the wave back down again into the depths of unknowing. It brings to mind one of my favorite Bob Newhart skits. Newhart is walking slowly behind a line of an infinite number of monkeys, seated at an infinite number of typewriters, trying to write the world’s great books. Bob pauses behind one of the monkeys. “Uh, Fred, come here a minute. I think this one’s got something. ‘To be or not to be, that is the… gzrbnklap.’ Forget about it, Fred.”

In this case, the gzrbnklap is airstrikes in 4GW, and the monkey is wearing Air Force blue.

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Please Welcome ‘Punditman’ To The Suzie-Q Blog!

by- Suzie-Q @ 5:53 PM MST

Please Welcome Punditman, as an author, to the Suzie-Q blog!

Punditman is a writer for Counterpunch . We are honored to have him as part of the Justice Team! )

He has a Masters Degree in Political Science and is an Editor.  His blog is Punditman. Check it out! ;)

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Dismantling the Retirement System

By Larry@6:00 PM MDT

Currently there are over 30,000 Defined Benefit Pension Plans in existence providing retirement benefits to some 44.1 million Americans. Defined Benefit Pension Plans provide a guaranteed level of payment per year of an employees service with a company.

Corporate America in conjunction with the Bush administration has embarked on a policy of completely dismantling the U.S retirement system. If successful, it would destroy the livelihoods of over 150 million workers and retirees.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 was designed to allow traditional pension plans to be converted to a risky 401 K plan. 401 K plans provide no guarantee of benefits at retirement time and typically provide slightly over half the benefits at retirement compared to Defined Benefit Pension Plans.

The Bush administration also has plans to try once again to privatize Social Security which would convert guaranteed benefits of millions of retirees and future retirees into a lower less stable income stream for millions of retirees.

Corporate America has been purposely underfunding pension plans for several years which has caused there to be a nearly $500 billion pension liability for the remaining Defined Benefit Pension plans. The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. estimates that at least $108 billion of that $500 billion represented pension plans that were about to go belly up.

As U.S Corporations convert Defined Benefit Pension plans into risky 401 K plans, this makes workers retirement funds easy prey to corporations using the money set aside for retirement for other things.

The Bush administration at the behest of Corporate America have slowly created a fundamental change in the rules that determine retirement in America. Rules established after World War II are being replaced with a set of rules that allow the transfer of trillions of dollars from more than 150 million working and middle class Americans and retirees, to banks, shareholders, CEO’s and insurance companies.

Whether you are young or whether you are old, these changes if allowed to continue, will forever change the economic stability of millions of Americans, and of the U.S economy itself. The dismantling of the U.S retirement system is upon us. If we don’t act now, there will be no retirement in the future.

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Reaching A Boiling Point

by- Actor212 @ 5:12 PM EDT

Two stories, seemingly only tangentially related, share something in common:

GAZA (Reuters) – Hamas Islamist gunmen pressed on with their Gaza offensive on Wednesday, killing eight fighters loyal to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas in a Palestinian supremacy struggle escalating steadily into civil war.

“What is happening in Gaza is madness,” Abbas, the Fatah leader, told reporters in the occupied West Bank after meeting a foreign diplomat.

…and…

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Suspected al Qaeda militants blew up two minarets of a revered Shi’ite mosque in the Iraqi city of Samarra on Wednesday, targeting a shrine bombed last year in an attack that unleashed a wave of sectarian killing.

Fearing renewed bloodshed, Iraq’s government imposed an indefinite curfew in Baghdad as Shi’ite and Sunni political and religious leaders called on their followers to remain calm.

A grim mood descended on the capital as people hurried home before the start of the curfew. Police said gunmen set fire to a Sunni mosque in Baghdad’s southwestern Bayaa district.

The internal struggle in Gaza (Palestinian) and the internal conflict in Iraq are both pitting Sunni versus Shia. Hamas is Sunni. Abbas, and by extension, Fatah (which despite being led by terrorists in its own right, is considered moderate) is also Sunni, but is more tolerant of Shi’a, having been educated mostly in Syria and Egypt with large Shi’a and Sufi populations.

And of course, the Iraqi attacks yesterday hearken back to a year ago, when another mosque in Samarra, the Al Askari mosque, was devastated by Sunni attackers, setting off the sectarian violence of the past year.

We here in America have long been focused on the internal conflict between Sunni and Shi’a in Iraq (the Kurds have been fortunately content to sit and wait it all out), but the trouble in Gaza, as well as last year’s siege by Israel of Lebanon, speak of a broadening of this internal religious struggle into a full-blown regional war.

Good for the US? Maybe, but probably not. Remember, we still have Israel to protect for its strategic value as a toehold in the Middle East (especially now that Iraq is disintegrating before our eyes), Saudi Arabia would undoubtedly be called upon to reinforce the Sunni side, being very strict Sunni Wahabists. Iran would then be forced to shore up the Shi’a forces, putting Iran in conflict with Saudi Arabia, effectively cutting off Middle Eastern oil to the west by closing down the Persian Gulf.

Hm. Not good. We would at the very least be called into to keep the combatants apart, and more likely, take on Iran directly as proxy for the Sauds.

Really not good.

A year ago, I might have suggested that cooler heads will prevail, but with the cracked and broken US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the failure of the Army to meet already pretty liberal recruiting goals even before Gates implements his increase in the size of the army, we’re pretty fresh out of manpower to fight Iran, and Iran knows this. We might still be able to stem the tide diplomatically.

If we actually had an administration that had a diplomat available.

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Afternoon Jukebox… Twilight Zone

by- Suzie-Q @ 1:46 PM MST


Golden Earring – Twilight Zone

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British could quit Iraq sooner than expected

by - Anthony @ 21:35 BST

Thomas Harding
London Telegraph
Wednesday June 13, 2007

Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, hinted yesterday that there could be an accelerated withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

He said the Armed Forces were in danger of being significantly “damaged” if they continued to fight in the same numbers abroad.

After returning from a trip accompanying Gordon Brown to Iraq, Mr Browne appeared to pave the way for further substantial reductions of troops in Basra.

It has been suggested that a significant withdrawal from southern Iraq in the next year would be politically advantageous in a forthcoming election campaign.

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How To Sell A War

by- Suzie-Q @ 12:47 PM MST


© 2004-2007 Stephen Pitt

Marketing an Invasion

How to Sell a War

By JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

This essay is excerpted from Cockburn and St. Clair’s new book on the death of the mainstream media: End Times.

The war on Iraq won’t be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold. It was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as “weapons of mass destruction” and “rogue state” were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us.

To understand the Iraq war you don’t need to consult generals, but the spin doctors and PR flacks who stage-managed the countdown to war from the murky corridors of Washington where politics, corporate spin and psy-ops spooks cohabit.

Consider the picaresque journey of Tony Blair’s plagiarized dossier on Iraq, from a grad student’s website to a cut-and-paste job in the prime minister’s bombastic speech to the House of Commons. Blair, stubborn and verbose, paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush, who looted whole passages from Blair’s speech for his own clumsy presentations, has skated freely through the tempest. Why?

Unlike Blair, the Bush team never wanted to present a legal case for war. They had no interest in making any of their allegations about Iraq hold up to a standard of proof. The real effort was aimed at amping up the mood for war by using the psychology of fear.

More

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