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This is a guessing game. It’s supposed to be fun. You do the guessing. I’ll reveal the answer at some point in the future. Bottom line, I am interested in how this plays out. (To keep answers out of moderation, no links please.) You may use the categories above for some helpful hints, but knowing me, don’t expect to find the answer that easily.) :)

1) Foreign policy/defense: I want American imperialism rolled back and American interventionism halted, as the same time we begin to pull free from the military/industrial complex by slashing the budgets for defense and homeland security to reasonable levels.

2) Civil libertarian issues: I want to see gay marriage legalized; drugs decriminalized; Real ID abolished; the Patriot Act gutted; and immigrants viewed as human beings. I want intrusive government the hell out of my life.

3) Fiscal sanity: I want a government that stops growing and taking an ever-expanding bite out of my paycheck; I want to see wasteful programs cut, and to have Congress faced with the same sort of imperative the Delaware General Assembly had to face this year: balancing the budget.

“At an address ….. he reported that, (the enemy was) “unable to mount a major offensive…I am absolutely certain that whereas …… the enemy was winning, today he is certainly losing…We have reached an important point when the end becomes to come into view.”

I’m sorry…..My bad…..I seem to have erred. That was Westmoreland speaking Novermber 21, 1967, two months before the Tet Offensive began.

I believe it was General Bruce Palmer, one of Westmoreland’s three Field Force commanders, who, at the same time, claimed that “the Viet Cong has been defeated” and that “He can’t get food and he can’t recruit. He has been forced to change his strategy from trying to control the people on the coast to trying to survive in the mountains.”

On January 30th, roughly 84,000 Viet Cong simultaneously attacked American bases everywhere across Vietnam. Despite suffering serious casualties,and losing every battle, they were able to cause Americans at home, to wonder if we were fighting under false pretexts.

Let us hope Iraq does not suffer the same fate…………despite the similar optimistic platitudes being spoken by those in bed with the national military industrial complex.

I disagree with some of those who put down Petraeus as a liar, simply because they fail to agree with his assessment. It may come across to some as funny that I have thought, if not said, some to the same things against which I am now taking issue, and if so, so be it……

What changed?

What happened was this. I became more familiar with what was going on within Iraq. Of course, being of skeptic I tended to look at things hard. Very hard. To my surprise, I found out that I was seeing real signs of hope. This hope was not in the eyes of the politicos; it was the eyes of Iraqis. Since desperate souls grasp any rope tossed to them, I have waited quietly to make sure that these Iraqis were not suffering any type of delusion. I listened to all three reports expecting to see something in them dash my half submerged optimism, upon the reality of Iraqi shores.

I think my conversion may have come about when I was studying the conversion of Al Anbar province. Those Sunnis chose to back us because they like us. Of course it wasn’t much of a contest, considering who their alternative was…..But it may have also come while studying the criticism leveled at us by the British, as they packed up and split. They criticized our arrogance , heavy handedness, and unwillingness to trust: all valid complaints Each of these were addressed under the Petraeus doctrine. After reading the Petraeus Book on the suppression of Insurrections, I realized his tactics were not part of the problem. They were in direct opposition to the problem. I understood what he was trying to accomplish.

What happened under Petraeus, happened not because of the amount of troops we had at our disposal, but because of the way we used them, that made a difference.

The surge may have helped. For before the surge, we, due to our insufficient numbers, acted like Soviets, if I may be blunt. We were there to suppress and pacify. We, with our own patriotic roots, should have been more aware that by taking that stance, we directly increased our own opposition.

Once we added just a few more troops on the ground, we were able to interact with the local population, while still having enough force surrounding us to protect us. Prior to the surge, the problem was that whenever a few shots were fired, we would have to shut down our clinic, and head out across the desert. However with additional troops able to chase the insurgents, the military medical corp could continue to cure the local citizen’s ills. That was the difference. We could finish what we started.

Of course the original problem was created by republicans, Rumsfeld in particular. Had we ramped up enough ground forces from day 1, we never would have needed the surge in the first place. Yes, we know their insurrection began because they believed we wanted their oil. (That republican Cheney messed everything up). But if I understand correctly, we dropped that privatized oil plank as a “no go” and are now supporting the nationalization of oil assets. We are pursuing more of a Biden local strategy, tribal leader by tribal leader, and doing so because of the surge. Paul Bremmer’s national unification strategy was not working.

What I found, in essence, was that everything I said eight months ago that we needed to do in Iraq to win, we were now doing.

Can this late development be twisted to mean I justify this war that was fought on false pretenses? Hell no. It will always stand as a stupid war, instigated by stupid ass republicans. Nothing can ever change that. We could have achieved much better results at far less cost, had we chosen to use other means.

But we didn’t. We went in against all common dignity, history and sense. So since we did, does the resulting mess lie at our doorstep? Does we broke it, mean we own it?

Perhaps. But instead of a “oops, I broke it” moment, it is more of an “Honey, I’m pregnant” moment. Whatever happened way back then, has now changed things permanently.

Of course we can put up our hands and say, “Whoa, that’s your problem bitch…” and walk out the door. Many people do and feel no remorse about doing so. But that is not how I want my America to be perceived. I want My America to be responsible. I want My America to do the right thing. My America will be no punk. My America will be a Dad……….

So emotionally, that is how I have come around about to see how we could win in that barren land. It is nothing new. Biden has pushed it for years.

To win, these things must happen. They are in our control.

Congress must finally stand up to the President. If Iraq can finally realize that America does not equal Bush, that we too think he’s a moron, that we too can admit and correct our mistakes, our relations will improve. If the American Congress ever gets some backbone, and forces upon the president a withdrawal timetable, the Iraqis too will get some backbone and begin controlling their own affairs.

Congress must stand up to the president, and eliminate the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy 2%, and invest that money into Iraq’s infrastructure, hiring Iraqis to build their own sewers, roads, and buried electrical conduits. If Congress could do that, then the Iraqis might get some back bone and start controlling their own affairs.

Congress must stand up to the President, and force impeachment if he fails to comply with Congress’s orders. Only then will Iraq realize that America is not over there to conquer, but sincerely is over there to help. If we are decisive over here, they will be decisive over there,……. instead killing time and each other until our next inauguration day.

Actually all three of the reports support Biden’s permise.

First fix the local issues, then move on to the national challenges.   That is the essence of the Biden plan, and was practically speaking, the essence of all three of the assessments on the surge.

The military is not bound by platitudes.  If something works, they do it.  Obviously as Al Anbar province shows, empowering locals to police their own, …works.   Just being there for back up, is enough.

The Petraeus further scores how poor our administration led Iraqi policy has been.  Comfortably one can say that had someone else been in control, we would have had consistent improvement over the last 5 years, not backsliding.

If any wisdom can be given to this administration, it is that they allowed ANY  option to be pursued, even if it came from Biden.

The long awaited Petraeus report is due today. Since the White House has admitted it will be responsible for content, one can assume that it will represent the Republican take of the war in Iraq.

However, timed to break just before the Petraeus report, were two other reports of which we have heard already. One, by David Walker of the GAO, could be said to represent the Democratic view of the crises at hand. The other, sponsored by Senator Warner, featuring General Jones (Retired: who looks like he stepped out of the move “White Christmas”) could be said to provide a centrist, or otherwise unbiased, review.

Oh boy….here we go again……surprisingly, all say the same thing………WHAT?…….. All say some progress has been made militarily, but the true solution needs to be political.

So when asked if the surge worked, the answers are all the same. There are gains in stability in some regions as a result of the surge. But politically, we are in the same spot or worse, as we were in January 07.

At each of these hearings, each time this same conclusion is uttered, the Dems posture and say the surge didn’t work….and the Republicans hunker down and say some progress shows momentum…..you can’t quit while you are moving forward.

Oh No! Parallels to Vietnam: In Vietnam, the US Military won every engagement it fought against the enemy. However our State Department was unable to matriculate a political solution. So it is in Iraq. I heard Lindsey Graham, (R-SC) make a speech that would have fit quite nicely in an anthology of “Hawk’s” statements from the early ’70′s.

America: we are smarter than this….We should not make the same mistake twice……

All three reports comment on the marvelous success we fell upon in Al Anbar province. However it was not our military that forced the issue. Rather it was the local population that became fed up with Al Qaeda’s brutality so much that they did something about it. It was fortuitous that the troops were there, to capitalize on the decision made by the Sunni sector.

Had we not had the surge and enough troops in the field, we could have still been holed up in the Green Zone, and the opportunity that presented itself, could have slipped through our fingers. Supposedly the tipping point for the Sunnis came when Al Qaeda made a point of punishing a tribe by killing 6 or 7 of its young boys. The chieftain asked for protection. The astute Lt Col. said “I’ll have a tank parked here in two hours”…… The domino effect rolled throughout the region based on the momentum off that one incident.

But one incident doth not a war make…. As we succeed in Al Anbar, we are unraveling in the South; insurgents are moving back in as the Brits pull out. This should surprise no one……going back 67 years ago:

hostile forces will withdraw into the more remote parts of the country, or will be dispersed into numerous small groups which continue to oppose the occupation. Even though the recognized leaders may capitulate, the subordinate commanders often refuse to abide by the terms of the occupation. Escaping to the hinterland, they assemble heterogeneous armed groups of patriotic soldiers, malcontents, notorious outlaws,…… and by means of guerrilla warfare, continue to harass and oppose the intervening force in its attempt to restore peace and good order throughout the country as a whole.

Anyone out there recognize that? That was taken directly from the declassified version of the Marines’ Small Wars Manual, first published in 1940. It suggests that to countervail such forces, similar to what we anticipate today, we need numerous presence patrols organized with the help of local, native militias, and outposts that are erected dispersed over a wide area in order “to afford the maximum protection to the peaceful inhabitants of that country.”

This blanket approach of embedding Marines into local tribes, and assisting them in regaining some type of stability in their lives vis a vis their experience with the chaos caused by terrorists, means we often wind up doing the work, and leaving local militias with the credit. This has worked well in the southern Philippines, and has for many years worked well in Afghanistan. We did not employ these type of winning tactics in Iraq, until Petraeus took over, and because of bureaucratic squeamishness over causalities, we have let up on our winning strategy inside Afghanistan.

Americans are good…..and as long as we fight on the “side of good”, we continue to win the hearts and minds of local populations. On this direct level no one can compete with us. No one! Our administration lost sight of that. Intent on imposing a government made to help the image of the republican party, American forces found themselves, instead of fighting for the good in the local populations eyes, fighting for oil rights and Cheney/Bush’s tough machismo.

I call this post Mosquito Wars, because as I sat through each of these hearing, listening to all everyone had to say, the war became less of a military adventure, and more of a politically psychological one. After all, that is how the Soviet’s broken regime crumbled…..not by nuclear strikes or preemptive invasions. They just imploded.

The Soviet analogy sets this up well. During the peak of Cold War, we were beset by Soviet spies. They were relative easy to find, hard to kill, and harder still for their agency to replace. Today against the terror threat, the parameters have changed. The terrorists are very hard to find. easy to kill, and easy for their agency to replace.

The way you fight terrorism is with intelligence. If you know what terrorists are going to do, you can prevent it. But finding out is hard, especially when they mimic regular citizens. But as long as the root causes of terrorism are still out there, as long as there are breeding grounds to replace the ones killed or captured, terrorism itself will be never conquered.

Which brings us to mosquitoes. You can live with them, by walking around with mosquito netting over your head whenever you choose to go out, or you can spend 100 % of your outdoor time, watching your bare arms, and swatting whenever one lands. But if you really want to kill mosquitoes, you change the environment to one where they cannot survive. We did so as we built the Panama Canal. We suffocated their breeding grounds with oil; we sprayed standing water. We succeeded.

Terrorists are not lions, tigers or bears…oh my. They are mosquitoes. Totally harmless entities until they land on you. So lets fight them the same way we fight mosquitoes.

Fix the abject poverty in the area where they breed. For a mere 12 billion, it is estimated, we could permanently end poverty in the world…….Drill some wells, teach crop techniques, vaccinate their livestock, provide lifesaving medical attention, and do so with some M16′s standing by in case a lone mosquito slips in and needs a good swat…

It’s America…..it’s how we win…….and it is not to late to win in Iraq. Announce the timetable, work hard to build an Iraq ready for withdrawal, and leave whenever we are done, not a moment before. But announcing the timetable is the key to developing political will among all factions in Iraq.

Remember how the moment Reagan was sworn in, the Iranian hostages were released after 444 days of captivity? They were not going to budge an inch as long as Carter was still president.

Let us move things fast forward too, by changing our leadership on this side of the Atlantic, doing so on our fast forward timetable (67 votes), thereby giving Iraq some hope too………

It’s something to think about; the next time you swat a mosquito……

Finally found the original source on this. However there has been an update.

“It was originally reported that five nuclear warheads were transported, but officers who tipped Military Times to the incident who have asked to remain anonymous since they are not authorized to discuss the incident, have since updated that number to six.”

So it was indeed officers who tipped off the Military Times, as was speculated here. But wait! I am confused……which officers? For in the original story posted back on September 5th, we were told that Minot did not even realize nuclear warheads were missing, until they were confirmed as having landed at Barksdale, and once there, they sat unnoticed on the tarmac for ten hours until the Military Times verified they were indeed there. So by default, it was 1) neither officers at Minot, nor 2) the officers at Barksdale who were responsible for alerting the Military Times. And from what we understand, none of the officers aboard the plane knew they were flying “hot”.

The obvious implication from that one statement is that “somewhere out there” were other officers, privy to this transgression which violated nuclear weapons parameters, and were horrified enough to blow the whistle. Whether these warheads were sanctioned for removal by someone in the White House for official business, or were being smuggled out by an unscrupulous arms dealer for profit, it is obvious that all established protocol had been ignored in their transference.

“That’s perhaps what is most worrisome about this particular incident — that apparently an individual who had command authority about moving these weapons around decided to do so,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

“It’s a command and control issue and it’s one that calls into question the system, because if one individual can do that who knows what can happen,” he said. According to the Military Times:

Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said a host of security checks and warning signs must have been passed over, or completely ignored, for the warheads to have been unknowingly loaded onto the B-52…..“It’s not like they had nuclear ACMs and conventional ACMs right next to each other and they just happened to load one with a nuclear warhead,” Kristensen said……The Defense Department uses a computerized tracking program to keep tabs on each one of its nuclear warheads, he said. For the six warheads to make it onto the B-52, each one would have had to be signed out of its storage bunker and transported to the bomber. Diligent safety protocols would then have had to been ignored to load the warheads onto the plane, Kristensen said……All ACMs loaded with a nuclear warhead have distinct red signs distinguishing them from ACMs without a nuclear yield, he said. ACMs with nuclear warheads also weigh significantly more than missiles without them………

Even though some officers knew that the plane was flying “hot”, the plane was allowed to fly SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). “The main risk would have been the way the Air Force responded to any problems with the flight because they would have handled it much differently if they would have known nuclear warheads were on board,” Steve Fetter, a former Defense Department official who worked on nuclear weapons policy in 1993-94, said.

The Air Force has disciplined those involved. Along with the 5th Munitions Squadron commander, the munitions crews involved in mistakenly loading the nuclear warheads at Minot have been temporarily decertified from performing their duties involving munitions, pending corrective actions or additional training,

It is quite possible that it was a simple mistake; someone did not know exactly what they were doing. (This error ironically comes after the Air Force announced last March, that the 5th Bomb Wing won two service wide safety awards during fiscal year 2006.)

Were it truly a mistake then it would be the first time in 39 years, since 1968, that it has been public that a nuclear warhead has flown on a US bomber. Nuclear weapons are normally transferred on special cargo planes, carefully constructed to contain radioactivity in the event of a crash; never on the wings of bombers.

According to Kristensen, the error could not have come from confusing the Advanced Cruise Missile with a conventional weapons since no conventional form exists. The munitions Airmen should have been easily able to spot the mistake. Other routine procedures were violated which awkwardly suggests a rather obvious explanation for the error. The military munitions personnel were acting under direct orders, though not under those passed down through the regular chain of military command.

The quick reaction of the Air Force, the issuing of a public statement describing the seriousness of the issue, and the launch of an immediate investigation, all suggest that whatever occurred, was outside the regular chain of military command extending from Gates downward.

If the regular chain of command was indeed bypassed, then we have no choice but to inquire as to whether the B-52 incident was part of a covert project, whose classification level exceeded those held by the very officers in charge of nuclear weapons at Minot. Some traits point out, that this was indeed a secret transference of nuclear warheads, known only to a select few within the military service. For 1) in this case, protocol was violated at Minot in not signing out the nuclear warheads, 2) was violated by installing “the red caps” under the B52, and 3) was violated by flying unrestricted between the airbases. Quite possibly, solely because of the tip provided by patriotic and non-corrupt officers, someone’s attempt to garnish 6 nuclear warheads was foiled.

After taking a hard look, all other explanations make little sense. Based on what we learned today, we do know this. Decommissioned nuclear warheads, as we were told these were, are to be taken to Kirtland AFB, where according to Kristensen, ” the warheads are separated from the rest of the weapon and shipped to the Energy Department’s Pantex dismantlement facility near Amarillo, Texas”

Instead, the plane flew to Barksdale, which just happens to be a major embarkation point for the Middle East. The speculation most in line with the current events happening today……… is that these advanced cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads, were on their way to the Middle East, to be used, if necessary, against the underground nuclear labs of Iran…..

So what does it boil down to? Three officers may have stopped nuclear weapons going to the Middle East, by alerting the Military Times to some discrepancies in an otherwise routine landing of another B52 in Barksdale.

I know its strange;  our orders say Barksdale

The Ugly, of the Good, Bad, and the Ugly photo courtesy of College Humor.

The Petraeus Report is coming! The Petraeus Report is coming! Today it is hard to miss the calls echoing Paul Revere’s famous ride. For indeed we will soon have the White House report all have been waiting for since the surge began……. only a click away…….Of course we originally thought it would be written by Petraeus himself……(we were so naive.)

Since objectivity is out, I decided to search around and catalog the opinions of those who support the continued surge, and those who want us to withdraw.

First the Good. These will see the Petraeus report as representing what is actually going on in Iraq…….and recommend that we stay.

Bush/Cheney, Israeli lobby,Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and other high level republicans. Mike Castle, the lobbyists being paid to support the war, Lieberman (I-CT). 12% of Americans, corporate mainstream media, defense contractors, and trolls.

I am sure there may be some more, but Google couldn’t find them. (It did include Delawareonline: how funny?_)

On to the bad. Ever since Milton’s Paradise Lost in the seventeenth century, studying bad has been much more fun. This group believes the opposite of the White House report. They see Iraq a imploding and think we should get out……sometime….eventually.

The British, Democrats, all Democratic presidential candidates, 85% of Americans, 99.9% of other nations, all of Delaware’s bloggers, Keith Olberman, Hollywood, the GAO, Association of Catholic Nuns, Vietnam Vets, US Labor, poets, environmentalists, the city of Austin, Texas, historians, military families, the NIE report, the General Jones report, artists, women, 1 million New Yorkers, West Point Graduates, lawyers, the City of Rochester, NY, librarians, and a (shock) surprising number of Republicans on the Armed Services committee listening to David Walker testifying in defense of his GAO report.

Thus we can judge by the support, that this war seems to be supported solely by one political party; and no one else. It is quite an odd situation to be in, the country which once was the standard the whole world looked to, now intently venturing down a path supported by only a handful of people. We will be paying for our mistake a long time.

As for the ugly? We touched on that with the picture at the top of this post…..Enough is enough. We have seen enough ugliness for a day…….

I am optomistic.....

Often one sees personal tendencies that remain consistent over time. Petraeus is no exception. Those of us who watch the wires on a regular basis sometimes get a feel for one’s personality by watching their comments over the length of their careers.

Before I go on, I must say I have great faith in the former commander of the 101st Airborne division. I am inclined to believe what he says.

Even so if I were to sit in the chair and allowed to question his interpretation of events, I would ask if he still believed the conclusions he drew up in his September report………the one he wrote 3 years ago?

My guess it was this article that moved him up the short list when it was time to pick a new commander last winter. Anyway, three years ago, Petreaus gives a rosy account of traction being gained in Iraq.

Questions for Petreaus:

In 2004, you said this in the Washington Post: “Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously in the face of an enemy that has shown a willingness to do anything to disrupt the establishment of the new Iraq.” Do you still hold this to be true?

In 2004 you said this: “there are reasons for optimism. Today approximately 164,000 Iraqi police and soldiers (of which about 100,000 are trained and equipped) and an additional 74,000 facility protection forces are performing a wide variety of security missions.” Where do we stand three years later on the number of soldiers trained and equipped?”

Follow up question? Out of all those we trained, how many are still participating in the capacity we need them to?

In your 2004 post you said this: “Reducing the flow of extremists and their resources across the borders is critical to success in the counterinsurgency.” In your esteemed view, after the billions spent, have we succeeded in closing off the borders?

My time is about to expire….will the chair allow me one more question? It will?….Briefly because I am out of time. In your September report of three years ago. you were optimistic. “There will be more tough times, frustration and disappointment along the way. It is likely that insurgent attacks will escalate as Iraq’s elections approach. Iraq’s security forces are, however, developing steadily and they are in the fight. Momentum has gathered in recent months”

Did we accomplish your goals at that time and then move on to bigger and better things, or……are we still in the same spot, doing the same things we were 3 years ago?

Mike Castle is good at talking out both sides of his mouth. He gives one point of view, then switches and says “on the other hand…..” and proceeds to give the point of view exactly opposite of what he just said.

He is very good at it. When speaking before a large group, each person hears the point of view he agrees with, shakes his head affirmatively, and later, remembering that he once agreed with him, he pushes Mike’s button on the voting machine.

As Nancy Willing puts it: Mike Castle very awkwardly suggests that because all of Delaware peace protesters have one goal in mind, (that they want to get out now), he almost finds himself resisting what they want because he disagrees with them even though he agrees with them on a withdrawal.

Obviously Mike still tries to do it. But today’s audience is no longer neutral. Perhaps considering that Castle has backed (ie. voted for) all of Bush’s Iraq proposals, one could say that 86% of the audience, is downright hostile. They want to hear plans and results, …. not platitudes. Mike’s words fall upon starving ears, like bones devoid of meat before the hungry…..

Actions speak louder than words. We are told so from birth. It is nice that Mike finally decided to speak up about his view of the war. However, his actions already taken, have spoken for him already. Talk is cheap.

So my recommendation is for all to dismiss the talk and remember it is just a diversion. Better to look at the Congressional Record, and see how he voted……….

It should anger you to find out how……..

I would be remiss if I did not comment on a major shift that occurred quietly upon the Delaware bloggers scene.

A Republican has called upon Mike Castle to disengage his support for Bush.

Congressman Castle I think it’s time to call it a day with supports President Bush on his desire to continue the war in Iraq. I know it hurt many of us to call it quits but the time has come to do so.

With a touching only-in-Delaware-story that would make Celia proud, we hear of two bloggers clowning around with Castle…..and then a soft appeal from a “nephew”, for Castle to take off the yolk of oppression he has diligently worn to support Bush in Congress, and take up the mantle of wisdom, once beheld by his bespectacled ancestor……..

A brave man has stepped up. May more follow………..

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