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Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Once you got to Iraq and took it over, and took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place?
That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off.  Part of it the Syrians would like to have to the west.  Part of eastern Iraq, the Iranians would like to claim, fought over for eight years.  In the north you’ve got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.  It’s a quagmire.
  —  Dick Cheney
From an interview with CNN on April 15th, 1994.
[This quote was found at a blog I follow:  The Bully Pulpit
The original post is located at:  https://jrbenjamin.com/2014/09/10/its-a-quagmire/
It is an interesting site to visit if you have some time.  Unfortunately, it is not posted to very frequently anymore.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 Be Someone’s Kindling
2017 When The Moment Comes
2016 Changed Clothes Lately?
2015 Like Stone
2014 Resistance Is Futile
2013 Subtle Humor
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2012 The Path Is Endless
2011 Happy MLK, Jr Day!!!
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Acceptable Beginnings
Slow Progress
Useful Confrontation
When Phenomena Are Different
Creative Avoidance
Thinking
Fast And Flexible
Surrender Certainty
Techniques
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Destiny
Completeness
Art
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Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned today (20 December 2018) – effective 28 February 2019, to allow time for a replacement confirmation.   Secretary Mattis (Retired Marine Corps General) resigned due to differences with the policies of President Trump.  Below is Secretary Mattis’ resignation letter (and transcript below that).
Page 1 of Sec. Mattis Resignation Letter
Page 2 of Sec. Mattis Resignation Letter
Dear Mr. President:
I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.
I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance.  Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.  While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.  Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world.  Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances.  NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America.  The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours.  It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.  That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.  We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.  The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February.  Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.
I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
[Whenever a high-ranking military officer disagrees so fundamentally with the policy, course of action or directions being given by the President (Commander-In_Chief), it is their duty to resign from their position and bring their objections to the American public.  This is an “honorable” resignation.
In our nation’s history, there have been senior officers objecting to their political commander who have acted contrary to lawful policy and direction (both Democratic and Republican) and who have stayed in post and attempted to ameliorate policy / directions they objected to.  Only historians can judge whether these officers acted with honor (or not).
President Assad rules Syria and wishes us to leave so he can continue to crush his opposition and remain in power indefinitely.  Putin wants us to leave Syria to increase Russian influence in the area and to gain access to “warm-water” ports in Syria.  Iran wants us to leave Syria in order to establish an arc of influence through Iraq to Syria (and the Mediterranean).  Turkey wants us to leave in order to crush the Syrian Kurds (and along with them, the Turkish Kurds).  The Turkish Kurds assisted us in Iraq and are now doing the same in Syria.  They want us to stay.  The Syrian Kurds want our help and want us to stay.  Israel and Saudi Arabia foolishly support President Trump because they feel he will support them.  Between Israel and Russia, Trump will support Russia.  Saudi Arabia is the enemy of Iran because Iran is not Arab and because Iran believes in the Shiite version of Islam while the Saudi’s believe in the Sunni version.  Trump supports Saudi Arabia over Iran (in theory), but he doesn’t seem to realize the long term effect of increasing Iranian influence in Syria will be to the detriment of both Israel and Saudi Arabia.
As for ISIS / ISIL, they are one of the factions seeking to over-throw Assad.  They are Muslim and Assad is Ba’ath.  Assad seeks to destroy ISIL because that’s what he does to all of his enemies.
If the U.S. abandons Syria and the Kurds, we will pay for this policy failure for decades and generations ALL around the world – not just in the Middle East.
I happen to agree with President Trump, that we should get our troops out of Afghanistan and reduce our military footprint in the Middle East – not just Syria.  In Afghanistan, as soon as possible.  In Syria, only after we have secured land for the Syrian Kurds and, after that, for as long as the Kurds need our protection from Russia, Turkey and Iran – and, of course, from Assad.  Unfortunately, this may mean decades…
Israel and Saudi Arabia will pay for supporting President Trump.  Sooner or later he will turn on them, too.   After all, Trump is a snake, they know he is a snake, and to quote candidate Trump’s campaign speech:  “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”
Just sayin’…  —  KMAB]
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2015 Back On The Bricks
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2011 Humane Writers

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If something is presented as an accepted truth, alternative ways of thinking do not even come up for consideration.
   —  Ellen Langer
[To start off, #IncompetentDonald hasn’t made America great again.  He wouldn’t know where to start or how to go about doing it even if he really wanted to make it happen.  So, to now claim  he’s “done” it (made America great again), and now wants to be re-elected to keep it that way, is even more laughable.  (Yes, we haven’t even had the mid-terms and #DonTheCon is already running for re-election.)  It reminds me of “W” standing in front of his “Mission Accomplished” banner at the start of the Iraq war (1 May 2003).  We are still there (in Iraq and Afghanistan) over 15 years later…  If you are not in the 1% which the Republican tax cut greatly benefited, ask yourself: “Will I be better off without healthcare and with reduced Social Security and Medicare coverage?”  That is surely where we are headed if Republicans retain control of both Houses of Congress.  John McCain is gone.  Obamacare will go down if there is another Republican controlled vote to kill it.  The tax cut has already worsened the federal debt AND deficit, and despite their claims they will protect Social Security, Republicans are already targeting “entitlements” (SSA and Medicare benefits) in their rhetoric.   How long will it be before they are reducing benefits in their legislation?  America, it is long past time to wake up and smell the coffee.  —  KMAB]
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2017 Old Style Ear Candy
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2012 At The Center
2011 Live Long And Thinner
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2010 SF Giants – 2010 World Series Champions!!!
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2009 Diet Update
Pictures from Chicago Trip…

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[The following is an opinion / editorial written by former Director of the CIA — John Brennan, titled:  “I will speak out until integrity returns to the White House
The editorial appeared in the Washington Post Newspaper on 1 June 2018.  It also appeared on the Post website:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/
The specific link to the editorial is: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/john-brennan-i-will-speak-out-until-integrity-returns-to-the-white-house/2018/05/31/afbccafa-64e8-11e8-a69c-b944de66d9e7_story.html?utm_term=.7a7512618b79
All rights are reserved by the Washington Post.  I am posting the editorial on my blog site in its entirety simply because I feel an urgent need to address (to “speak out” about) the problems with the Trump Administration.
For those not familiar with the name, John Brennan served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency from March 2013 to January 2017.
  —  KMAB]
My first visit to the Oval Office came in October 1990, when I was a 35-year-old CIA officer.  Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait two months before, and President George H.W. Bush wanted to discuss the implications of a U.S.-led military coalition that would ultimately push the Iraqis out.
I remember the nervousness I felt when I entered that room and met a president of the United States for the first time.  By the time the meeting ended, his intellectual curiosity, wisdom, affability and intense interest in finding the best policy course to protect and promote U.S. interests were abundantly evident.
Over the next quarter-century, I returned to the Oval Office several hundred times during the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  The jitters that accompanied my first Oval Office visit dissipated over time, but the respect, awe and admiration I held for the office of the presidency and the incumbents never waned.  The presidents I directly served were not perfect, and I didn’t agree with all of their policy choices.  But I never doubted that each treated their solemn responsibility to lead our nation with anything less than the seriousness, intellectual rigor and principles that it deserved.  Many times, I heard them dismiss the political concerns of their advisers, saying, “I don’t care about my politics, it’s the right thing to do.”
The esteem with which I held the presidency was dealt a serious blow when Donald Trump took office.  Almost immediately, I began to see a startling aberration from the remarkable, though human, presidents I had served.  Mr. Trump’s lifelong preoccupation with aggrandizing himself seemed to intensify in office, and he quickly leveraged his 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. address and his Twitter handle to burnish his brand and misrepresent reality.
Presidents throughout the years have differed in their approaches to policy, based on political platforms, ideologies and individual beliefs.  Mr. Trump, however, has shown highly abnormal behavior by lying routinely to the American people without compunction, intentionally fueling divisions in our country and actively working to degrade the imperfect but critical institutions that serve us.
Although appalling, those actions shouldn’t be surprising.  As was the case throughout his business and entertainment careers, Mr. Trump charts his every move according to a calculus of how it will personally help or hurt him.  His strategy is to undercut real, potential and perceived opponents; his focus is to win at all costs, irrespective of truth, ethics, decency and — many would argue — the law.  His disparagement of institutions is designed to short-circuit legitimate law enforcement investigations, intelligence assessments and media challenges that threaten his interests.  His fear of the special counsel’s work is especially palpable, as is his growing interest in destroying its mandate.
For more than three decades, I observed and analyzed the traits and tactics of corrupt, incompetent and narcissistic foreign officials who did whatever they thought was necessary to retain power.  Exploiting the fears and concerns of their citizenry, these demagogues routinely relied on lies, deceit and suppression of political opposition to cast themselves as populist heroes and to mask self-serving priorities.  By gaining control of intelligence and security services, stifling the independence of the judiciary and discrediting a free press, these authoritarian rulers followed a time-tested recipe for how to inhibit democracy’s development, retard individual freedoms and liberties, and reserve the spoils of corrupt governance for themselves and their ilk.  It never dawned on me that we could face such a development in the United States.
On the international front, Mr. Trump pursues policies that are rooted in uninformed campaign promises, a determination to upend actions of his predecessors and an aversion to multilateral engagements.  His ad hoc and frequently impulsive approach to national security is short-sighted and dangerous, as allies and partners are left uncertain about U.S. strategy and objectives.
The impact of the Trump presidency will be felt for many years to come.  Most worrisome is that his use of falsehoods, his mean-spirited and malicious behavior, and his self-absorption will be emulated by many young Americans — indeed, young people globally — who look to the president of the United States as a role model.
The damage also will be felt by the millions of Americans who believe in Mr. Trump because of their concern about being left behind in a rapidly changing globalized world.  These Americans have a legitimate gripe that politicians and political parties of all stripes have failed to deliver on the promise that America is the land of opportunity for all, irrespective of race, creed or place of residence.  At a time when deep-seated fears of socioeconomic and cultural change need to be addressed honestly and without prejudice, Mr. Trump grandstands like a snake-oil salesman, squandering his formidable charisma and communication skills in favor of ego, selfishness and false promises.
Many have condemned my public criticism of Mr. Trump, arguing that as a former CIA director, I should bite my tongue.  My criticisms, however, are not political; I have never been and will never be a partisan.  I speak out for the simple reason that Mr. Trump is failing to live up to the standards that we should all expect of a president.
As someone who had the rare privilege of directly serving four presidents, I will continue to speak out loudly and critically until integrity, decency, wisdom — and maybe even some humility — return to the White House.
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How is the world ruled and led to war?  Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print.
    —  Karl Kraus
[Substitute “The President, Vice-President and National Security Advisor” for “Diplomats” and you have the invasion of Iraq.  —  KMAB]
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“We are at a period where our enemies respect us, but they don’t fear us,” McChrystal told his audience at the 2014 Maneuver Conference Wednesday.  McChrystal is the former commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.
“The specter of American power is no longer enough to get somebody just not to do something.”
“When I joined this organization – an elite collection of forces — I thought I was joining an unbeatable team,” he said.
“In 2004, JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) was extremely well resourced and highly efficient, McChrystal said. “What we did, we could do better than anyone had ever done it before,” he said. “When we went on operations, we had good results, but we were losing the war.”
Al Qaeda, on the other hand, focused on being adaptable, McChrystal said.
“Al Qaeda in Iraq became a very resilient, flexible organization, and they were adaptable … and when you pitted adaptable against efficient, surprisingly to us, adaptability won.”
  —   Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal (Ret.)
Speaking of his five years in Joint Special Operations Command.
[Found on one of the blogs / websites I follow:  http://www.military.com/
The specific posting was at: http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/09/11/armys-combat-leaders-prepare-for-new-war.html?ESRC=dod.nl
If the above quote is true, not only has the military learned little in the last ten years of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. Army (in specific) hasn’t been talking much to the U.S. Marines – one of their mottos being: “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.”  —  KMAB]
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2010 Insubordination… And That’s Why I Love Her!
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…As every infantryman knows: it takes more resources to hold an objective than to take it.  An assertion that it takes fewer can only come from people with no understanding of how wars are actually fought and won.
 

…We have a system in which military leaders serve civilian bosses, because we do not want people in uniform to run the country.  We have seen it attempted elsewhere, and it is rarely successful and never very pretty.  So American service members are inculcated with the notion of the superiority of civilian authority,and they are very uncomfortable acting contrary to that notion.  Officers have the responsibility to contribute to the plans and the decisions to execute those plans, but they are taught that, once the decision is made, they must obey — unless, of course, the order is immoral or illegal.  And this works extremely well at nearly every level of command.  Nearly, but not at every level.
 

…But if the Secretary of Defense wants to do something contrary to the best judgment of the general officers appointed to render advice, something so egregious that experienced military people know instinctively, if not from experience, that it is foolhardy or worse, who is left to prevent disaster?
 

Only those general officers.  Professional military men know how many troops are needed to perform missions, and the plans must be reviewed and certified annually.  If Tommy Franks or Dick Myers or any other officer at the top of the chain of command thought that the plan was unworthy, each had an obligation to his uniform, to the nation, and to the troops they sent to war to ensure that the plan was not executed.  And if they thought that the plan was a good one, then they were fools.  In either case, they failed this country.
 

Civilian control was established to prevent military domination, and the rules for following lawful orders are clear.  Who would have thought that our real danger was the civilian hijacking of the military apparatus, snatching it from officers who were either too inept or too pusillanimous to resist? 
 

–  Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
from their book “If Not Now, When?
 

[In my opinion, history will not be kind to either the Bush/Cheney Administration or to the general officers in command leading up to the invasion of Iraq – with the notable exception of Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki. 
 

General Shinseki testified to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that “something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers” would probably be required for postwar Iraq. This was an estimate far higher than the figure being proposed by Secretary Rumsfeld in his invasion plan, and it was rejected in strong language by both Rumsfeld and his Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, who was another chief planner of the invasion and occupation.
 

On November 15, 2006, in testimony before Congress, CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid said that General Shinseki had been correct that more troops were needed. (from Wikipedia)
 

Unfortunately, one brave man was not enough to keep us out of a war of choice.  —  KMAB]
 

 

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