Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Daily Show Reports from Iraq...No, Seriously

Come Monday, Comedy Central's The Daily Show begins Operation Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

Comedy Central released this statement regarding the special reports: “Join The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for ‘Operation Silent Thunder: The Daily Show in Iraq,’ a week of special reports filed from Iraq. Yes, actual Iraq, not green-screen Iraq. Daily Show senior war correspondent Rob Riggle will provide in-depth coverage and insights from the front lines throughout the country where he was embedded with the troops and learned just how hot 120° really feels.”

Riggle himself is a major in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, where he served in Liberia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Rush Limbaugh, your Hummer is waiting....hump that rucksack, soldier!

There's more: "The Daily Show Reports from Iraq...No, Seriously" >>

Friday, August 17, 2007

Iraq insurgents continue to think a step ahead of the American military

The latest twist? House bombs.

The 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division calls itself the "Send Me" brigade, and on Saturday, its soldiers were quick to send themselves to find the man who shot Pfc. William L. Edwards, a wide-eyed 23-year-old from Houston. They quickly identified the house where they believed the assailant was hiding and moved in, just as the sniper knew they would.

Inside the house, one soldier stepped on a pressure plate, detonating an estimated 30 pounds of explosives hidden under a stairwell. In an instant, four troops were killed; four others were injured. Edwards died later in the hospital. The sniper escaped.

The attack in Arab Jabour, southeast of Baghdad, was particularly savage, predicated on knowledge of the soldiers' sense of duty to a fallen comrade. Military commanders say the number of similar incidents — those in which soldiers are lured into a house rigged to explode — has risen dramatically across Iraq in recent months.

Especially for Marines, who are fanatic to the point of myth-making about refusing to leave a fallen comrade behind, these house bombs have to be like baited traps. The story notes this is all part of a pattern of emerging complexity in attacks, such as combining roadway IEDs with post-explosion ambushes, usually involving more insurgents at one site than previously was the case.

As for our top military PR? It’s a “spin” issue more than something to seriously address right now:
Officials attribute the increasingly sophisticated attacks to desperation on the insurgents' part after troops became too successful at finding roadside bombs and other explosives.

“It’s a clear sign that they could not get to us by other means, and that's a good sign,” said Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly, a spokesman for the American operation in northern Iraq, describing the pattern of house bombs in that area. “Obviously we're countering the improvised explosive devices, and force on force, they know that they can't fight us.”

This lying toady refuses to, or has orders to refuse to, credit insurgents for ever-rising tactical and technological ingenuity, even though he describes another example of such ingenuity in his very next breath:
But ambushes and rigged houses can cause many more casualties than smaller improvised explosive devices, which rarely kill more than one or two people at a time. Increasingly, Donnelly said, insurgents are creating a “daisy chain” of house bombs, in which an initial explosion can trigger blasts up and down a block.

Donnelly claims that the bombs leave tell-tale signs. Right.

If that really were the case all the time, why would the bombs be being used more and more? And, if it is starting to become true, the insurgency is probably already moving on to its next set of tactics.

In fact, Donnelly admits that, while keeping his BushCo happy face painted on.
Donnelly said that as U.S. troops become more skilled in identifying house bombs, al-Qaeda in Iraq will probably develop even more advanced techniques for attacking soldiers. But the American military’s counterinsurgency abilities, assisted by increased cooperation from Iraqi citizens, would prevail, he said.

Sure. Black is white, and the Red Queen loves Alice to death.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The war rains down on the Yazidis

Aerial view of one of the Yazidi villages devastated by Tuesdays bombing.

Four suicide bombers driving a fuel tankers struck the normally restive Yazidi towns of Qataniyah and Jazeera
on the Ninevah Plain of northwest Iraq on Tuesday, in what has proven to be the most devastating attack of the entire war. The bombings targeted the Yazidi minority religious sect. The poorly understood Yazidi faith embraces elements of Zoroastrianism, and incorporates Islamic teachings as well as rituals that are rooted in ancient AryanVedic ceremonies.

The Yazidi Kurds are caught between the Sunni extremists who want to drive them from their homes because they want their land; and the regional Kurdish officials who want their votes. All the while, the Yazidi just want to be left alone, unmolested. To that end, they have for the most part removed themselves from the mainstream of Iraqi society, occupying a backwater in the northern mountains, and until Tuesday, they were probably the group least affected by the civil war raging in Iraq. Until last spring, when a young Yazidi girl was stoned to death after falling in love with a Muslim boy, few people outside the Middle East had even heard of the obscure religion with only a half-million followers world wide.

That all changed Tuesday. The death toll has passed 250, and could climb as high as 500, as bodies are still being pulled from the rubble and debris of the demolished villages.

"Someone in every family is dead." said a survivor of the attacks, "They destroyed us." He had lost several relatives in the bomb attacks, while a neighbors entire 12-member family was wiped out.

As rescuers arrived at the scenes of the bombings with bulldozers to clear the rubble, surviving relatives gestured to extremities sticking out of the piles of rubble. The August heat and dead, decomposing bodies represent a secondary danger in the form of disease.

Hospitals in the area were overwhelmed. The hospital in Dahuk had critically injured patients lying on floors, because all of the beds were full. Morgues were overflowing, to the point that victims, many missing arms and legs, were stacked like cordwood outside on the ground.

No group had claimed responsibility as of Thursday, although the American press invoked the specter of the reliable, default-position, bogey-man, al Qa'eda.

Tuesdays attacks appear to be part of a larger pattern of stepped-up violence in areas that have a minimal military presence. Such attacks cast a pall over the claims of major successes in reducing violence in areas of Baghdad and in Anbar province.

When the escalation of American forces was proposed, it was supposed to reduce the violence in the capitol so the political process could have a chance to take hold. Instead, the government of Nuri Kemal al-Maliki teeters on the brink of collapse; and since the escalation got underway, four massive bomb attacks (attacks that kill more than 100 people) have taken place, Sunni Sheiks who had allied with the Coalition forces in al Anbar province have been assassinated, and the number of civilians killed in mass-casualty bombings was triple in July what it had been in June. The largest increases in civilian casualties were in the north, in areas where there is little or no military presence.

There's more: "The war rains down on the Yazidis" >>

It’s like the 750’s all over again*

Shia militants signify their willingness to be martyred by wearing funeral shrouds.

It is not exactly “news” that the Iraqi army and police forces are heavily infiltrated by Shia militias, especially Jaish al Mahdi, nor is it surprising to anyone who has more than passing knowledge of the history of the region.

The Iraqi police and military forces are not simply infiltrated by Shia militiamen, they are infested – to the point that they have managed to apply sufficient political pressure to commanders that, on at least one occasion, they were able to create their own army units, staffed with its own Jaish al Mahdi fighters.

The units were disbanded in May, but like the oil in the pasta pot, it quickly came back together once the heat was off. The commander became the head of a new battalion, but the troops in his command didn’t really change all that much…

One Mahdi Army loyalist, a policeman by day and a militant after the sun goes down, was forthright about discussing the reality "There is a Mahdi Army member in every family and in every home across Iraq and the military is not exempt. The army wouldn't go after the Mahdi Army because many elements in the army are Mahdi Army. Here in Sadr City for example, there is one company and 35 of them are Mahdi Army."

Men like him, who seem to seamlessly lead dual lives, represent perhaps the greatest challenges faced by the American forces as they struggle to assemble and train non-sectarian security forces in the occupied country. They quietly, surreptitiously, go about their business of undoing the seeming advances toward a non-sectarian security apparatus.

The Sadr movement has used Iraqi soldiers and national police officers to push deeper into predominantly Sunni Arab districts in west Baghdad, U.S. Army officers said. It also swayed the leadership of an Iraqi army battalion in the spring to mount strikes in Fadil, a Sunni district in east Baghdad, the U.S. officers said.

The nexus has included soldiers carrying out killings or turning a blind eye as Sadr fighters slip through checkpoints. In late March, in the early phase of the U.S. military buildup, a Mahdi fighter who gave his name as Abu Haidar bragged to The Times that Iraqi army officers had provided vehicles to his group to carry out executions. "We have a deal with the Iraqi army and police," he said.

Last fall, Iraqi soldiers looked on as Shia militants forced thousands of Sunni families out of their homes in the western neighborhood of Hurriya in the wake of a bomb attack in Sadr City. A few weeks after the Hurriya neighborhood was cleansed of Sunnis, an Iraqi commander and four other officers were arrested, only to be released a week later. The very day they were released, the Lt. Colonel in the Iraqi army who had filed the statement that led to the arrests was shot dead at a checkpoint.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a U.S. intelligence officer was as plainspoken as the Iraqi policman/militant "We've slowed them down, but they are still slowly expanding their reach. Jaish al Mahdi expansion is taking place. Like water, they are going to find a crack and move through the weakest area."

*The 750’s signify the point when the Sunni-Shia split became an unbridgeable chasm. The Battle of Zab in Egypt occurred then, and so did the murder of Jaffar. The murder of Jaffar was the final treachery and precipitated the final split between the Shia and the faction that would later come to be known as Sunnis.

There's more: "It’s like the 750’s all over again*" >>

Tripartite Iraq? Bipartite? Or still unified, with new boundaries?

Abu Aardvark’s excellent article on what appears to be the final collapse of Sunni participation in the government of Iraq got me to thinking about what the longer-term results might be.

I know that a number of pundits, some historians and even a few American politicians have bandied about the idea of a tripartite Iraq, on Shi’a/Sunni Kurd lines. It’s usually presented as if this were the only realistic option (by politicians and pundits), or the most likely actual option (by historians).

In any case, a tripartite Iraq vs. current Iraq are presented as the only two outcomes, usually. But, the Sufi philosopher Idries Shah once said, “There are never just two sides to any situation,” and that is the case here.

For example, what if Sunnis, Shi’as, Iranians and Turks combine to do a partition of Poland move on the Kurdish state? Then, we’re down to a bipartite Iraq.

Or, what if Kurds and Shia’s stay together, with a Sunni area making a formal declaration of independence? Then we have a bipartite Iraq.

Or, what if the Saudis get so frustrated they issue an invitation to the Sunni area to let itself be taken under the Saudi wing? To appease Bush, they could make this as innocuous as possible, but then complete the annexation during the heat of the presidential election season or just after, confident they can then get away with it. Then, we have a still unified, but shrunken, Iraq, with an enlarged Saudia Arabia now having even more of both oil reserves and Falafist fundamentalists in its midst.

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

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See You In September, With A Report We Wrote In July

In a story in the LA Times this morning "Top general may propose pullbacks" Julian E. Barnes and Peter Spiegel report that Petraeus may announce pullbacks from some areas in Iraq, including al Anbar province and a turnover of those ares to Iraqi forces.

I'm somewhat mystified by this process as it appears that, at the White House, they seem to know already, in other words, today, what they are going to report in September, in other words, a month from today. In fact it seems that they began writing their "field report" weeks ago... in the White House.

I'm not sure why exactly, but this somehow reminds me of reports I hear from teachers with experience in the "no child left behind" follies, who have described to me the specter of spending weeks and weeks of classroom time devoted to "teaching to the test" in order to maintain mandated academic ratings and the flow of federal funds. Taking the test is mostly a charade, passing the test, a foregone conclusion, an exercise in making things look good on paper.

In other words, as Junior might say every few seconds, in the case of Iraq they are writing a "report" which will contain recommendations that will allow us to draw conclusions, that were decided on in the White House more than a month ago.

They will do, in this instance, what they have done so unsuccessfully for the last 7 years, they will start from a set of erroneous facts, ask for recommendations or intelligence from the field, cherry pick the recommendations and intelligence to find those nuggets that fit their assumptions, ignore the rest, have the advertising guys in the White House cook up a great big pot of bullshit stew, order the military and diplomats to sign off on it, and have Petraeus and Crocker carry the wholly fraudulent, putrid mess up to capitol hill and serve it to congress, where as we well know "they'll eat anything."

The LA Times says:

Despite Bush?s repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.

And though Petraeus and Crocker will present their recommendations on Capitol Hill, legislation passed by Congress leaves it to the president to decide how to interpret the report?s data.

I'm clear out here in Dayton, Ohio and I can tell you this, long before the General and the Ambassador board the plane in Baghdad next month, long before the admen in the West Wing have finished tweaking and spinning the "report from the field" I could write it myself.

In fact, for less than the price of two first class, round trip tickets from Baghdad to Washington, I'll personally write all the General's "field reports and recommendations" to Congress for the next calendar year, and I'll throw this one in as well.

The situation in Iraq is steadily improving, but we still face challenges and a lot of hard work, in other words the enemy is still out there trying to hurt us, in other words the evil ones still want to kill Americans. Therefore we will continue the current troop levels through the end of the year, in other words sometime in February and the General will report back at that time.

In other words then.

Until then we will continue the hard work of writing the General's next report.

I don't know how much it's going to cost the taxpayers to ship Petraeus and Crocker, their respective staffs, roadies, valets, hairdressers whatever, from Baghdad to the Hill and back to the Green Zone, but I can deliver the kind of reports that the President needs quickly, efficiently and at greatly reduced cost to the taxpayer from my world headquarters right here in Dayton, Ohio.

All they have to do is send me the conclusions... data, by telegraph is okay.

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

Related Stories and Sources:

Top general may propose pullbacks

Petraeus: Troop Reduction Plan Seen

There's more: "See You In September, With A Report We Wrote In July" >>

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Those 110,000 U.S. weapons missing from Iraq?

A notorious Russian arms dealer is behind those missing AK-47s:

Consider the case of one particular bad guy, Viktor Bout — a stout, canny Russian air transporter who also happens to be the world's most notorious arms dealer.

When the U.S. government needed to fly four planeloads of seized weapons from an American base in Bosnia to Iraqi security forces in Baghdad in August 2004, they used a Moldovan air cargo firm tied to Bout's aviation empire. The problem is that the planes apparently never arrived.

The missing Bosnian weapons could simply be a paperwork problem (and it's not certain that they are among the missing weapons the GAO discovered; they may be an additional loss). But Bout's involvement raises bleak possibilities … that the arms were diverted to another country or to Iraqi insurgents killing American troops.

For more than a decade before he landed on U.S. payrolls, Bout's air cargo operations delivered tons of contraband weapons … to some of the world's most dangerous misfits.

He stoked wars across Africa, supplying Charles Taylor, the deposed Liberian president now on trial for war crimes. He ferried $50 million in guns and other cargo, and he even sold air freighters to the Taliban. …

Bout also has a well-known record for working both sides of the fence. His planes armed both the Angolan government in Africa and rebel forces arrayed against it. He cut weapons deals with Afghanistan's Northern Alliance government before betraying it by arming the Taliban.

One thing about the Bout affair is certain. As of mid-2006, his firms were no longer flying for the U.S. in Iraq. But now he poses a new problem: "blowback," the blunt term espionage writers like to use for the deadly consequences of poor spycraft.

When the U.S. turned to the Bout network to mount its Iraq supply flights, it was already clear that Bout's network had aided the Taliban's extremist mullahs. How could the U.S. be absolutely certain he wouldn't fly for our enemies once he had left the payroll?

We couldn't and, apparently, he is.

Last summer, a jumbo Il-76 flying the Khazakh flag swooped down to a landing in Mogadishu to unload arms for radical Islamic leaders who briefly seized control of Somalia. It was one of Bout's planes, concluded U.S. military intelligence officials.

With arms-dealer friends like this, who needs enemies, eh?

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.

There's more: "Those 110,000 U.S. weapons missing from Iraq?" >>

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Disneyland of Militant Ignorance

From The Dissent Voice: A Disneyland of Militant Ignorance: The American Normalization of Mass Murder:

The media is rife with right-wing fantasist nonsense about the “feminized” American male, when, in fact, the country has grown outright psychotic from testosterone-induced toxicity (TIT). In the 1960s, hippies were ridiculed for their naive assumptions that life on earth could be magically transformed into an egalitarian paradise of free love, good dope, waterbeds and Lava Lamps for all, if “the straights” could simply be induced to “raise their consciousness” by the engagement in and the utilization of the erotic acts, illicit substances and goofy counterculture accoutrements mentioned above. Accordingly, the current fantasy — that all US soldiers are good, righteous and brave, standing ever vigilant against all threats to the Homeland — could be regarded as a kind of Woodstock Militarism.

(a tip of the hat to Himself at Only in America)

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Did The Rooster Call Up the Sun or Did Rove Get the Last Laugh?

Did The Rooster Call Up the Sun or Did Rove Get the Last Laugh?
The only certainty my grasshoppers is that the cherry blossoms of spring will become the turd blossoms of summer

Karl Rove also known as "Turd Blossom" in that colorful native patois spoken by the Texas Chicken hawks announced today that he is leaving the rapidly sinking Scow of State that is the Bush administration effective the end of August.

His reason for leaving, taken verbatim from the official Washington departing rats exit speech is of course, to spend more time with his family.

When asked by one of the fully interchangeable talking heads of the White House press horde if he was being forced out, TB replied, "that sounds like the rooster calling up the sun" which I believe is another expression in that curious Pecos dialect that these birds use among themselves. Only Molly Ivins could decipher and translate the curious Texas Pig Latin these guys speak in private. I miss Molly.

In the weeks ahead there will be endless testimonials to Rove as the master architect of two successive (if not successful) terms in the White House and hundreds of references to his intellect and political genius. Genius, when used to describe any aspect of the Bush administration, in any context, I feel, seriously dilutes the term.

Whether he is departing to spend more time barbecuing, dove hunting and billing and cooing with his Texas Rose while writing his memoirs or scurrying out of town under a cloud of suspicion, subpoenas and potential indictments is open to argument. Perhaps, with all the other foul public relations odors wafting around the White House these days they may have decided to set this particular sack of scent outside the door and some distance downwind before the congressional recess is over.

Either way, August is adieu for Turd Blossom, the administration, today, is publicly mourning his loss while beatifying his holy name and as I listen with half an ear the media "analysis" of his departure drones steadily on in the background, as it probably will for days unless Paris Hilton goes on another toot.

My personal favorite memory of Turd Blossom comes from reports of the White House Correspondents Dinner last April when he recoiled from Sheryl Crow. When she and Laurie David tried to ask him if he might consider taking a fresh look at global warming science in light of the reception of "An Inconvenient Truth," Rove fled, he fled from Sheryl Crow, I will remember him that way scurrying across the room like Little Miss Muffet, in terror of Sheryl Crow.

Before he leaves town there will of course be a round of going away parties in his honor, and he'll probably be invited to about half of them but I don't think he will be absent from Washington long, he leaves behind his shield of executive privilege and I seem to remember that there are a few folks in the House and Senate who really want to talk with him.

In his goodbye photo op on the White House lawn this morning it struck me that Turd Blossom, the boy from the west, born in Denver and raised in Sparks, Nevada, has almost none of the drawl one might expect while the guy next to him, scion of eastern aristocrats, born in Connecticut, product of Skull and Bones, has cultivated a Texas two step drawl so dense you could whet your pocket knife on it.

Bush called Rove his friend, in fact, he said, "you could call him my dear friend." Rove is if anything, the ultimate Bush loyalist, first as an assistant to GHW Bush after having being investigated as a minor player in the Watergate affair. When he was dispatched by Poppy to deliver car keys to Junior in November of 1973, Turd Blossom reportedly fell in love with the Shrub at first sight (politically speaking). "Huge amounts of charisma, swagger, cowboy boots, flight jacket, wonderful smile, just charisma - you know, wow" he recalled years later.

He's had his chubby little fingers in everything in the administration for the last seven years without getting seriously burned and may have been the only person that Dick Cheney was wary of. There are many, myself included who would love to see him in handcuffs and that may yet happen but I'm not betting on it.

He'll be around, there will be subpoenas to fight and a book to write, which I think that he should title "Reality is What You Say It Is" the ultimate Rovism, and I wish I could say:

Thank God and Greyhound he's gone but I'm afraid that it's not true, we're stuck with his legacy, pictured below:

Bob Higgins
Worldwide Sawdust
Related Stories and sources:
Who is Karl Rove
Karl Rove
Karl Rove, Adviser to President Bush, to Resign
Rove to Resign

There's more: "Did The Rooster Call Up the Sun or Did Rove Get the Last Laugh?" >>

Long Years of Floundering and Ultimate Failure

Though they are words that could sum up just about every aspect of the George W. Bush (Mis)Administration®, in this case they illustrate the failure that is Afghanistan.

“Initial success, followed by long years of floundering and ultimate
I cannot take credit for those words, for they are words spoken by Il Douche'™ himself, ironically noting how his (mis)administration's efforts to rebuild Afghanistan would not emulate the failures of others.
“We’re not going to repeat that mistake,” he said. “We’re tough, we’re
determined, we’re relentless. We will stay until the mission is done.”
Or, at least until those resources would be diverted for the unnecessary war in Iraq.
In October 2002, Robert Grenier, a former director of the C.I.A.’s counterintelligence center, visited the new Kuwait City headquarters of Lt. Gen David McKiernan, who was already planning the Iraq invasion. Meeting in a sheet metal warehouse, Mr. Grenier asked General McKiernan what his intelligence needs would be in Iraq.

The answer was simple. “They wanted as much as they could get,” Mr. Grenier said.

Throughout late 2002 and early 2003, Mr. Grenier said in an interview, “the best experienced, most qualified people who we had been using in Afghanistan shifted over to Iraq,” including the agency’s most skilled counterterrorism specialists and Middle East and paramilitary operatives. That reduced the United States’ influence over powerful Afghan warlords who were refusing to turn over to the central government tens of millions of dollars they had collected as customs payments at border crossings.

While the C.I.A. replaced officers shifted to Iraq, Mr. Grenier said, it did so with younger agents, who lacked the knowledge and influence of the veterans. “I think we could have done a lot more on the Afghan side if we had more experienced folks,” he said.

A former senior official of the Pentagon’s Central Command, which was running both wars, said that as the Iraq planning sped up, the military’s covert Special Mission Units, like Delta Force and Navy Seals Team Six, shifted to Iraq from Afghanistan.

So did aerial surveillance “platforms” like the Predator, a remotely piloted drone armed with Hellfire missiles that had been effective at identifying targets in the sparsely populated mountains of Afghanistan. Predators were not shifted directly from Afghanistan to Iraq, according to the former official, but as new Predators were produced, they went to Iraq.

“We were economizing in Afghanistan,” said the former official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly. “The marginal return for one more platform in Afghanistan is so much greater than for one more in Iraq.”

The (mis)administration's failure in Iraq is essentially the failure in Afghanistan, writ large, but in not having learned easy lessons it might have gained from engaging in the Afghani folly, it was doomed to repeat them in Iraq.

As of the fall of Kabul in 1992, Afghanistan was left without a central government, but left to the devices of various tribal factions, much as has happened in Iraq, after the dismantling of the Ba'thist government and the standing Iraqi army and the destruction of the nation's infrastructure. Once again, an excellent plan for invasion, yet none for occupation.
An “initial success, followed by long years of floundering and ultimate failure.”

There's more: "Long Years of Floundering and Ultimate Failure" >>

Sunday, August 12, 2007

They're Talking Draft, That Ought To End The War, Right

Draftees At Drill Preparing For The War To End All Wars 1917

Lieutenant General Doug Lute, the "War Czar" known around the White House as the "General of least reluctance" is talking "Draft." Expressing his concern at the stress and strain of repeated lengthy deployments on the troops as well as their families the General said:

As an Army officer, this is a matter of real concern to me. Ultimately, the American army, and any other all-volunteer force, rests with the support and the morale and the willingness to serve demonstrated by our ? especially our young men and women in uniform. And I am concerned that those men and women and the families they represent are under stress as a result of repeated deployments.

General Lute, who accepted the position of War Czar after the rest of the General Staff either fled in stark terror at the prospect of accepting such a potentially career ending position or simply hid out in the Senior Officer's head in the Pentagon until the position was safely filled, did not actually use the "D" word, but, in response to questions from National Public Radio's Michele Norris on Friday in an interview for "All Things Considered" he definitely left the door wide open in this exchange:

Norris- You know, given the stress on the military and the concern about these extended deployments for an all-volunteer military, can you foresee, in the future, a return to the draft?

Gen Lute- You know, that's a national policy decision point that we have not yet reached, Michele, because the ?

Norris- But does it make sense militarily?

Gen. Lute- I think it makes sense to certainly consider it, and I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table, but ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another. Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well. It would be a major policy shift, not actually a military, but a political policy shift to move to some other course.

Norris- Do you agree with that assessment that there is a real pressure point in the spring ? that that's when the Pentagon will face some tough decisions about either extended deployments or reducing the time spent at home?

Gen. Lute- Yes, I do agree that come the spring, some variables will have to change ? either the degree to which the American ground forces, the Marines and the Army in particular, are deployed around the world to include Iraq, or the length of time they're deployed in one tour, or the length of time they enjoy at home. Those are, essentially, the three variables.

Personally, I read that to mean that there have already been discussions on this at the "policy" level ( else the General would not have let it pass his highly skilled Czarist lips ) and it will likely become Bush's next "Plan B" in the spring. The Republicans will tag along as will the acquiescent Democrats after a few obligatory public tugs at their Master's sock, because none of these people want out of Iraq as long as they are being paid so handsomely by those who will ultimately profit from American hegemony in the oil rich region.

I would like to think that drafting a hundred thousand college age children of the wealthy to serve in the Mesopotamian morass would hasten the end of the war but it probably will not. The younger generation of chickenhawks will receive the same deferments as their fathers and the children of the working class will slog off to die in a civil war that will continue into the next decade, probably embroiling Iran in the hideous stew because we want control of their oil as well.

We're not building the Disney World of embassies in Baghdad to fix traffic tickets, run consular affairs or replace lost passports for the occasional hapless tourist and we're not building extensive permanent military bases all over Iraq to turn over to the tenuous control of Iraqi security forces who will likely surrender to the first Jihadist who points a weapon in their general direction.

I am being unfair to the War Czar though because he doesn't like that title, preferring instead the title of Deputy National Security Adviser (Asst to Stephen Hadley) or Assistant to the President (Junior):

Norris- I'm just curious, What do you think of the term war czar?

Gen Lute- It's actually an unfortunate term because it doesn't describe my job at all.

Norris- But it's often how people describe you.

Gen Lute- That may be, but it wouldn't be my choice of how I describe the job. What I'm trying to do here is actually facilitate the very hard work that's taking place on the ground and link it to the very hard work that's being done here in Washington across the departments of the executive branch with the priorities of what's required on the ground reflected in the efforts here in Washington. I'm in charge of about 15 people. Now that's not exactly very czar-like, but what I am able to do is make sure that efforts are aligned properly.

Editor's note: HUH? Is that a job?

Norris- Well, you know what they say in Washington sometimes ? that power is concentrated.

Gen Lute- [Chuckles.] Well, I have 15 very qualified people, and we're working very hard to do our best to contribute to this effort.

All of this I take to mean that the draft is coming, and Canada had best be prepared for another influx of young American expats, possibly beginning next spring.

I also learned that it only takes two months for a highly trained General Officer to pick up the irritating habit of using the words "hard work" in nearly every paragraph if you place him in the company of those who spent their Vietnam years as Yale cheerleaders, members of the Cornell Glee Club, or simply having "other priorities."

Bob Higgins

Worldwide Sawdust

'War Czar' Concerned over Stress of War on Troops

Bush War Adviser Says Draft Worth a Look

Selective Service plans "readiness" tests for military draft

Bush War Czar Considering Military Draft

There's more: "They're Talking Draft, That Ought To End The War, Right" >>

Just how worn out is the Army?

It’s pretty bad, according to the Observer:

The anecdotal evidence on the ground confirms what others - prominent among them General Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State - have been insisting for months now: that the US army is 'about broken'. Only a third of the regular army's brigades now qualify as combat-ready. Officers educated at the elite West Point academy are leaving at a rate not seen in 30 years, with the consequence that the US army has a shortfall of 3,000 commissioned officers - and the problem is expected to worsen.

And it is not only the soldiers that are worn out. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to the destruction, or wearing out, of 40 per cent of the US army's equipment, totalling at a recent count $212bn (£105bn).

But it is in the soldiers themselves — and in the ordinary stories they tell — that the exhaustion of the US military is most obvious, coming amid warnings that soldiers serving multiple Iraq deployments, now amounting to several years, are 50 per cent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress.

The army's exhaustion is reflected in problems such as the rate of desertion and unauthorised absences — a problem, it was revealed earlier this year, that had increased threefold on the period before the war in Afghanistan and had resulted in thousands of negative discharges.

This is why Lt. Gen. Lute has brought up the idea of a draft. Of course, as Vietnam showed, if you want a desertion problem, all you have to do is draft people to fight an unpopular war.

Cross posted at SocraticGadfly.

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