Thursday, December 14, 2006

Today's Tidbits

Paranoia rages

The Bush Administration is warning us that terrorists may attack our satellites. Yes, we are being told that terrorist groups pose a threat to our satellites, in space, orbiting miles above the earth. Terrorists.

At one time I believe the Soviets did have the technology to destroy satellites, but it was done using rockets launched from large a complex with sophisticated guidance and electronics. Have terrorists taken that over, or are they going to bring down our satellites with RPG’s? Or maybe by throwing rocks from the tops of the high mountains in Afghanistan?

Terrorists are, we do know, planning to launch ICBM’s at us; hence the need for the anti-ballistic-missile defense that we have paid billions for, enriching the companies that formerly employed our currently elected officials or have contributed truckloads of money to them.

Oh. So, what kind of system are we going to build to protect our satellites from terrorists? Who is going to build it and how much is it going to cost?

Why do ambassadors leave?

The Ambassador from Saudi Arabia suddenly resigned and left the U.S. for a return to his home country. No replacement has been named and no reason given for his departure other than a vague statement about him being in line to replace a higher official whose health is failing.

The usual reason for withdrawing an ambassador is that you know that your country is about to be in a state of hostility or is about to break relations with the host country.

Saudi Arabia has said that it will support the Sunni in Iraq if we don’t and there is growing evidence that, stay or leave, we are going to abandon the Sunni to the mercy (?) of the Shia in Iraq. The Saudi ambassador leaving the U.S. is not a good sign.

A "comprehensive catastrophe"

Timothy Garton Ash says it very well. In part,

If the consequences were not so serious, one would have to laugh at a failure of such heroic proportions - rather in the spirit of Zorba the Greek who, contemplating the splintered ruins of his great project, memorably exclaimed: 'Did you ever see a more splendiferous crash?' But the reckless incompetence of Zorba the Bush has resulted in the death, maiming, uprooting or impoverishment of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children - mainly Muslim Arabs but also Christian Lebanese, Israelis and American and British soldiers. By contributing to a broader alienation of Muslims it has also helped to make a world in which, as we walk the streets of London, Madrid, Jerusalem, New York or Sydney, we are all, each and every one of us, less safe. Laugh if you dare."

Embedded troops

I am not an expert on military strategy or tactics on the ground. I was Navy, not ground forces, but the policy of our forces being “embedded” with Iraqi forces makes no sense to me on several levels.

Our guys have universally said that the loyalty and skill of the Iraqi forces is highly questionable, that while some are nationalists many are more loyal to their sect, their tribe, their village, or to an individual militia. It seems to me than embedding our soldiers within a larger force that is poorly trained and of questionable loyalty puts our soldiers at very high risk.

It seems to me that this is a step backward in terms of making the Iraqi forces less dependent on the U.S. for their security, and a step backward in terms of the Iraq government "taking the hard steps" that Bush advocates.

This policy certainly does not move toward any kind of reduction of forces in Iraq. The talk of force reduction is of "reducing combat forces" and is the kind of doublespeak deception that has been coming from the administration for years. The embedded soldiers would not be "combat forces" they would be "trainers" and would be protected by "support forces" in permanent bases.

Vietnamization by another name.

So we'll have 140,000 soldiers carrying weapons in battle, getting shot at, killed and wounded, but they would not be "combat forces." Instead of combat forces dying in Iraq we'll have "trainers" and "support forces" dying.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

War gaming

When I was in the "boats" we exercised a few times against anti-submarine task groups in the Atlantic. The surface forces always won, annoying us considerably, but the game was rigged in their favor. We had to stay on the surface until they spotted us visually, then we would pull the cork (dive) and try to do our thing (sink them and/or get away). What enemy submarine would allow himself to be sighted before diving?

In preparation for the war in Iraq the military "war gamed" the process to see how it would go. Guess what, Iraq won.

Well, not quite, but the general who was playing the part of Iraq didn’t keep to the role that Rumsfeld had set out for him. He had a history, apparently, of thinking that Rumsfeld’s vaunted "military genius" was in reality nothing but a collection of empty slogans that sounded good but didn’t really mean anything. (Which has, of course, proven to be quite correct.)

So in the war games he started doing things like sending messages by motorcycle, rendering Rumsfeld’s electronic intelligence methods useless, and sending suicide bombers in motorboats against the invasion fleet and sinking quite a few ships.

At that point the war game was stopped, the general fired, the sunken ships "refloated" and the game restarted with a new "Iraqi" general who was more willing to get stomped by Rumsfeld’s preferred methods.

McCain wants more troops

John McCain is visiting in Iraq, where the generals on the ground – that’s the generals, trained in ground warfare and right there where the fighting is taking place – are telling him they do not want more troops. Not.

John McCain is a former Navy pilot.

John McCain says we need more troops in Iraq.

He has Navy training, not Army. He has visited Iraq a time or two, while these generals have been there for many months directing the ground forces under their command. But he knows better than the generals do.

And he's still spouting that "follow us home" nonsense. Who is going to follow us home, Sunni or Shia? Which half of the bloody civil war that we are in the middle of is going to follow us home? Not even Bush is parading that tired old saw any more.


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