Archive for the Mideast & Oil category

January 10th, 2010

Gaza a year after
and then some

Ed Note: See comments below to follow events into 2011

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1. Noam Chomsky talks about Gaza a year after the Israeli attack.

2. Meanwhile Israel complains because George Mitchell has threatened to cut off the cash trying to pressure Netanyahu — a precise echo of the Bush-Baker years.

3. And the Israeli general who once headed their nuclear weapons program says that Iranian nukes are seven years distant.

Team Obama this year has enacted a betrayal of the Cairo speech.

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January 8th, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg re Obama /
Bell helicopters in Vietnam & Predator drones in Pakghanistan

Another in Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frog interviews on the National Security Apparat.

Very worthwhile — as they’ve all been. This is number 18. She’s leading one of the most important discussions around.

Ellsberg is measured in assessing Obama, and even so the judgments are bleak. Syncs well with my own black-biled broodings.

Touches on the political consequences of allowing high hopes to fail for lack of leadership. Ellsberg doesn’t mention the Carter-Reaganism dynamic, but what he says brings it to mind.

And he puts the puzzle of the escalation decision in clear terms, observing that neither the top Pentagon brass, nor NS Advisor Jms Jones (retired four-star general), nor Rahm Emanuel — with the fine DC instincts and his eye on the 2010 elections — were pusihng the escalation. (Nor Biden.) And some were on record against it.

Is Obama more of a militarist than Petraeus, whose recent interview in Newsweek shows a mind less than persuaded of any successful outcome over there? Where did the decision come from?

Westmoreland and LBJ

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Recall Col. Flectcher Prouty’s history of the Pentagon’s war in Vietnam (which, note, began in 1965) — and which Prouty thinks began almost accidentally, with a big push by Textron and its lobbyists to get the Gov to start buying Bell “Huey” helicopters en masse.

As conglomerate Textron — then as now a major war supplier — was preparing a corporate takeover of Bell Helicopters, a guy from Yale working on Wall Street kept showing up at Prouty’s office atop the Air Force staff in the Pentagon — trying to sell the notion that tactical helicopters would revolutionize counterinsurgency ops …

The Air Force kept saying no. Finally somebody got to somebody on the Nat’l Security Council staff in the White House, and the order came across the river: Let’s buy some more helicopters — and let’s base them across the border from Laos, rather than where all the shootin’s going on. Yeah, let’s put them in Vietnam.

The Huey program was greenlighted — but under CIA auspices. Which perhaps rounds around to explain why a banker out of Yale was lead salesman.

The CIA had opened its first official spy store in Saigon in 1954 (post French defeat at Dien Bien Phu) but our involvement there reached back into the war, when the OSS helped to arm Ho’s nationalists against the Japanese. Some say that the same guys, now wearing CIA badges, including Ed Lansdale, were covertly on the ground again well before ’54, working again with locals but this time to oust the French.

However that may be, Prouty writes that each early CIA Huey base in Vietnam needed some 500 (if memory serves) pairs of Pentagon boots to provide pilots, maintenance, security and support.

And when the bases started drawing fire from local insurgents even more Advisors were needed to Keep the Peace.

Wasn’t long before 16,000 soldiers were in country, under CIA command, shooting at insurgents from behind barricades as the choppers bounced and bombed around the South as Lansdale & company tried to figure out how to win their hearts and minds.

Then, in late ’63, a new President took office persuaded that it was time to let the Pentagon clean house.

Obama and Stanley

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The obvious parallel is the CIA’s drone campaign, based in Afghanistan, attacking Pakistan, which began under lame duck Bush-Cheney, August 2008, rather late — perhaps to be sure it was online fait accompli before the new prez came in.

The latter again brings to mind the Bay of Pigs — in particular the panicked revisions to the plan that went on between November 1960, when Kennedy shocked the planners by defeating Nixon, and January when he took office.

Steps were taken to downsize the scheme (quite consciously beyond hope of success) and to persuade the new White House team that the raid had been approved by Eisenhower (not so — rather, by VP Nixon, who headed the CIA oversight committee in Ike’s White House).

The raid came 70 days into Kennedy’s presidency. He wasn’t quick enough to choke it off, but deserves great credit for frustrating the prime motive by refusing its gambit — ie, refusing to send in the Marines to rescue the raid (and execute regime change).

And, of course, he never escalated with the Pentagon in Vietnam. That came after Johnson won his ’64 election.

Obama within weeks of taking office enlarged the CIA drone program.

And now, against the advice and/or instincts of Jones, Mullen, Eikenberry, even it seems Petraeus (four four-star generals) as well as VP Biden and CoS Rahm, he’s escalating the war.

Ellsberg pointedly compares Obama’s decision to that of Johnson (under whom and closely with he worked) in 1965 — and sadly laughs at the notion of turning on a dime and getting out in July 2011. The commitment, he insists, cannot but be anything but indefinite re both time and manpower.

More than puzzling. Why did subordinate Stanley McChrystal win this policy debate? Why was he even involved in it?

And what is the War Aim over there? I STILL don’t see one, and neither it seems does the senior brass.

Let’s see, who makes the Predator drone? Expensive little bombs ….. Who’s their anchor banker …?

In the Land of the Blind …

January 6th, 2010

The Nation:
Blackwater and the Khost bombing

For files.

QUOTE

It’s just astonishing that given the track record of Blackwater, which is a repeat offender endangering our mission repeatedly, endangering the lives of our military and costing the lives of innocent civilians, that there would be any relationship,” Schakowsky said.

“That we would continue to contract with them or any of Blackwater’s subsidiaries is completely unacceptable.”

January 6th, 2010

Bomb Iran?
Report from Iron Mountain?

Big brain out of the Nat’l Security Apparat adds value re the difficulty of bombing underground:

“It complicates your targeting,” said Richard L. Russell, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst now at the National Defense University. “We’re used to facilities being above ground. Underground, it becomes literally a black hole. You can’t be sure what’s taking place.”

Need a second opinion?

“Deeply buried targets have been a problem forever,” said Greg Duckworth, a civilian scientist who recently led a Pentagon research effort to pinpoint enemy tunnels. “And it’s getting worse.”

Laugh or cry or …?

November 27th, 2009

Israeli scholar re Nation’s dubious distinction

Posted in Israel, Reading by ed

NY Times review of The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand.

October 26th, 2009

Armies destroy everything,
build nothing, neither communities nor nations

The USA: No longer a country for man, woman or beast.

October 21st, 2009

Iranian nuke talks seem successful

Posted in Mideast & Oil by ed

But still have to be approved in Tehran.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iran-nuclear22-2009oct22,0,2676789.story

October 20th, 2009

The Generals are Growling

A fortiori, I don’t think the Four Days in September were without significance:

A feature piece in the Times this morning airs the growling of anonymous generals about the President “pulling out the rug” from beneath them in Afghanistan, and moving to cut their budget. The nerve …

“The thunderstorm is there and it’s kind of brewing and it’s unstable and the lightning hasn’t struck, and hopefully it won’t,” said Nathaniel C. Fick, a former Marine Corps infantry officer who briefed Mr. Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign and is now the chief executive of the Center for a New American Security, a military research institution in Washington. “I think it can probably be contained and avoided, but people are aware of the volatile brew.”

geneals

October 18th, 2009

Pakis attack in Waziristan –
Suicide bomber attack in Iran

The horrendous suicide bomb attack today on Iranian soil and top military leaders, apparently by native unhappy Baluchi campers, is very dangerous for Team Obama and the world.

Tehran has immediately accused Washington and the Brits of being behind the attack.

A bit odd, to do so so quickly, and given that the nuke talks are about to get underway.

Might the Iranians have clear intelligence about US/Brit support of the Jundallah group that’s claiming responsibility?

In any case, if Tehran’s claims are serious, then the worries I had a year ago here — of Obama getting led by the nose into something he doesn’t see and can’t control — on the model of JFK at the Bay of Pigs …

Those worries become relevant — even if, as one hopes, the western so-called intelligence apparats, including Israel’s, had nothing to do with today’s attack.

The Pakis, of course, invaded South Waziristan in force last week, in reaction to the bombing of the Paki Army HQ outside Islamabad the week before.

South Waziristan is just north of Baluchistan, all within Pakistan’s borders. And it’s apparently Baluchi separatists in Iran behind today’s attack.

So — just a thought — PERHAPS the Paki invasion of Waziristan has led unhappy campers there or just south to undertake this attack in Iran as a way to invite Iran into the mess and thus make things more difficult for Islamabad?

Just a thought, based on nothing yet n the news. There was something suspicious in Islamabad’s reaction to the bomb of its army HQ last week, as noted here: the immediate statement by Islamabad that an invasion of Waziristan was now called for. We may be looking at a chain of events much more tightly knit, re causality, than the news we read is able to convey.

October 18th, 2009

McChrystal wins?
Kerry changes tune, OKs escalation?

ED NOTE: See comments below to continue following this disaster into 2010, where, in June, McChrystal shoots off his mouth and loses his head.

Well, it seems Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup was on target:

John Kerry — who has been Obama’s stalking canary (?) for weeks, loudly making the argument for no more troops — today told the Sunday talk shows that another 40,000 is maybe okay if yadda yadda yadda …

There is nothing to win over there. The LBJ precedent looms.

October 16th, 2009

Great documentary:
The New American Century

MUST WATCH, unfortunately …

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dream46

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9/11, the unwarranted influence of the military-industrial complex, and what 50 years of same has done to American society.

Here’s Part One at youtube.

The other nine are there too. About 100 minutes total.

Can buy a copy here.

The producers include Wim Wenders — a fave.

Most of what the film has to say is familiar. But the last two parts (on youtube) have revived basic despair about not only our owner-operator class but the young soldiers, who seem as alien and rabid as the teen zealots of 1917 did to so many Russians.

It’s only a few baby steps from shooting civilians for fun in Iraq to the same in American cities. I guess we will see this sooner than later, perhaps even before election day 2016 if Romney beats Obama in 2012.

And of course I don’t mean to imply that it’s okay in Iraq. It’s so NOT okay that … words elude.

And thoughts of leaving the country intrude.

I mean only to gauge the degradation of our people — our enemy met that is us — raised on video games and patriotic television. We mirror the owner-operators with gruesome fidelity.

And have deprived ourselves of sound basis for complaint should one day a city of our own go up in smoke.

af1

October 15th, 2009

Obama at the Rubicon
in Pakghanistan

Paul Street complained in well informed style about the Peace Prize and Obama’s war-making trail so far.

I REPLIED:

Nevertheless, he did say Woah on a Sunday talk show a few weeks ago, triggering the current Pakghanistan policy debate — and outing McChrystal.

My blog the past 11 months is full of disapppointed rants re the people Obama kept on or hired atop the Nat’l Security Apparat, including a post headlined (like yours) with Orwell’s name after the surreal scene in Strasbourg.

But to think Obama had much of a choice about, e.g., Stanley Mac’s appointment is perhaps to overestimate a callow president’s power to reject the truths and advice of the Briefers of the Apparat.

His chief failing, it seems to me, is that of an ingenue, not a Kissinger; and those of us who elected the ingenue bear some responsibility.

During the campaign I thought Hillary was the better choice to feed into this sausage grinder. She was ready for battle and knows how to take a bullet. Obama seemed better suited as her successor.

But one goes to peace with the President one has. The policy at this moment is in the air, and for the first time since Gates-Mullen picked up the pieces post Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz. If Obama fails to make this opportunity a turning point, I’ll jump on the bandwagon damning him simply.

But I’m hoping he manages to execute a change in rough accord with the Cairo speech that will mark the end of the beginning of his foreign policy odyssey.

October 15th, 2009

Reformed wingnut forecasts domestic terrorism from Christian Right

Must read, unfortunately.

Frank Schaeffer was the son of a famous right-wing Christian preacher-activivist. Became one himself. But then saw the light and went Left.

His simple scorn for the movement is bracing.

But his certainty as to its essential violence — that violence itself, born of long resentment within a civilization that passed it by, is its aim — is ominous.

There has been good solid journalism about this threat throughout the decade, of course. This is a quick, sharp reminder.

And when one considers the black boy who was beaten to death in Chicago weeks ago — that horror that seems to have largely escaped notice …

One realizes how difficult the tightrope this President must walk shall be.

October 13th, 2009

China and Russia closing deals

Today’s pictures say alot about the success of the Shanghai Coooperation Organization in policing its bounds and pushing back expansionist American policy since 2000.

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putinchink

China and Russia ink trade agreements and agree re natural gas.

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hillary

Russia resists Hillary push for new sanctions against Iran — the latter which sends a ton of oil to China.

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October 10th, 2009

Provocative (?) week ends
with a bang: Unhappy Paki campers capture Army HQ.
“Yankees come on down?”

An ugly bloody week over there — now capped by an assault on a Paki Army headquarters.

From the London Daily Telly:

The daring assault, a few miles from the capital, was the third significant terrorist attack in Pakistan this a week. A suicide bomb attack on a UN headquarters killed five, and more than fifty people died when a huge car bomb exploded in a bazaar in the city of Peshawar.

Saturday’s attack seemed intended to show that the Taliban can still strike at the very heart of Pakistan’s security apparatus despite recent military operations against their forces and the killing of Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in a drone attack in August.

The attackers may have been trying to kill army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who was inside the complex on Saturday, although it was not clear whether he was there during the attack. Military statements said he attended meetings there and at the president’s office in nearby Islamabad during the day.

It’s as if the so-called Pakistan Taliban, campers unhappy with the feebly pro-Western central government, don’t want the Yankees to go home after all.

For it’s the best guess, stateside, that this week’s attacks will support Pentagon and CIA warmakers in their recently convened public debate with the White House — especially if the Paki Army now throws up its hands and shouts to Stanley McChrystal across the border, Heck, come on down and we’ll kick some rebel ass!

From an Associated Press story:

The government said the assault on the headquarters …had strengthened its resolve to push into South Wazristan — a mountainous region where security forces have been beaten back by insurgents before.

The spasm of violence was confirmation that the militants had regrouped despite recent military operations against their forces and the killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in a CIA drone attack in August. His replacement vowed just last week to step up attacks around the country and repel any push into Waziristan.

Sounds like something that could snowball into the party war I’d imagined was in the works last December when erstwhile CIA Director General Michael Hayden declared war on/in Pakistan.

Perhaps this week’s attacks are expressions of native alienation from Islamabad pure and simple, and nothing more.

Or perhaps there’s bona fide provocation at work, maybe by American warmakers looking to win the debate and close the deal, or merely by Moscow, smiling on the sidelines like a Cheshire cat as it arms the resistance, turnabout being fair play and revenge a dish best served cold.

It may be worth recalling: Bush-Cheney called Mullah Omar and his merry band on the carpet in January and (if memory serves) May of 2001 — trying to get them to work with Houston’s Unocal on the Caspian basin pipeline, rather than Argentina’s Bridas.

But Omar grew sullen. And in midsummer (as voices from Tony Blair’s gov’t have reported) Bush-Cheney told the NATO folk to saddle up for the ride into Kabul.

It seems fair, then, to say that we did not go to Afghanistan to Get Osama. Our reasons for remaining there remain obscure. No good reasons are evident.

If this week’s attacks are native affairs, let the Paki apparatus, half of which hates Uncle Sam’s guts, handle them.

And if the attacks are more than meets the eye? Then all the better for the American President to resist the mousetrap cheese.

Neither the various forces labelled Taliban nor the meeting of minds referred to as al Qaeda are things a Pentagon can dismantle. Wars on terror are won or lost largely between the ears.

Obama knows this. Evidence: The Cairo and recent UN speeches. That he initiated the current public debate — saying Woah on a Sunday talk show — remains hopeful.

But whether he has the power and the nerve to turn off the Aimless war he cheerleaded and then inherited is far from clear.

He strode during the campaign last year, smiling and waving, into a near perfect trap, like Jesus entering Jerusalem on his ass. There are certainly elements of tragedy in this, but also of Obama’s particular great-souled naivete.

Hillary (whom I also admire) was the one to feed to this sausage grinder. She was ready for battle and knows how to take a bullet. Romney seems a good bet to be president four years hence: a time and place I don’t want to be.

October 9th, 2009

NY Times: Iraquagmire

For files: Pulling out’s hard to do.

October 6th, 2009

Independent: Gulf Arabs, France, Russia, China & Japan plan to dump Petrodollar system

Posted in Mideast & Oil, Money by ed

Zheeesh, when I surmised over the weekend that the dollar might “abruptly” sag, I had no guess about the two things pounding it this morning.

1. Diversifying the near-global business of selling oil in dollars has been talked about for years.

According to The Independent’s top mideast correspondent this morning, Robert Fisk, based in Beirut, something concrete has been agreed to, to kick in across nine years. He cites banking sources in the Persian Gulf and Hong Kong.

In reaction: a rash of news stories quoting finance ministers saying “Stuff and nonsense!” Quite a media teapot tempest …

2. The Austrailian central bank also surprised, everybody, by raising its interbank rate overnight (from 3 to 3.25%) — the first major-currency CB to do so since the crisis kicked in.

These two items have the dollar reeling and gold rocketing to new highs — $1043 last I looked.

From the Independent:

The demise of the dollar

In a graphic illustration of the new world order, Arab states have launched secret moves with China, Russia and France to stop using the US currency for oil trading

By Robert Fisk
Tuesday, 6 October 2009

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.

Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars.

The plans, confirmed to The Independent by both Gulf Arab and Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong, may help to explain the sudden rise in gold prices, but it also augurs an extraordinary transition from dollar markets within nine years.

END QUOTE

Here’s another:

End of the Dollar Spells the Rise of a New Order

And here’s five years of gold:

au1825nyb

September 30th, 2009

General Krulak, son of Brute,
blasts Cheney re Torture.
Very interesting! But …

On September 11 (weeks ago), two high-ranking generals came out of retirement to hit Cheney on the head about torture. Interesting but odd.

Their Op Ed was published in The Miami Herald: “Fear was No Excuse to Condone Torture.”

Well and good. But also a bit odd. Is there nothing current behind it? Torture, per se, is no longer an issue. Cheney seems history.

And note that one of the generals — former Marine Commandant Charles Krulak — bears a name that rings in the annals of American postwar history.

In the 1960s (and maybe 50s, under CIA auspices), Marine General Victor “Brute” Krulak was involved in the energetic effort to win in Vietnam. Air Force Colonel Fletcher Prouty worked closely with him, and has written a lot about him.

Relevant bits in a nutshell: Prouty says that Brute, atop the Marine staff in the Pentagon in the early 60s, became a close ally and advisor to JFK in the effort to turn the Vietnam policy around.

The McNamara-Taylor of October 2, 1963 — supposedly the findings of the Secretary of Defense and JFK’s special advisor General Maxwell Taylor on their grand tour of Vietnam — was principally authored by Krulak, Prouty & co, working closely with the White House — and then placed in McNamara & Taylor’s hands, for the sake of the cameras, as they returned from their mission.

That is: The policy change this much publicized report effected was sold using Taylor’s and McNamara’s names, but was actually the thinking and initiative of JFK’s narrow circle, which at this moment included, on the brassy side, Brute and his assistant Fletch. (Thus spake Prouty.)

1. Is Marine Gen. Charles C. Krulak the son of Marine Gen. Victor Krulak? Shouldn’t be hard to find out, I guess.

Uh yes — that’s a roger. Charles is the son of Victor.

2. Why is Charles coming out of retirement to hit the retired Cheney on the head now?

3. Are you playing the Preakness pool?

seven

September 29th, 2009

Sibel Edmonds
Gagged no more (?)

Wow.

magcover

She whom Bush-Cheney repressed for seven years — “the most gagged person in the history of the USA” according to the ACLU — testified in a court case re Turkish and Israeli espionage in August.

And now has a big interview re Marc Grossman — alleged Israeli spy atop the State Dept in the 90s — and other spooks and influence peddlars she’s stumbled across, in the current American Conservative magazine.

( Me? I’m a socialist, or would be if there was a party to speak of stateside. But I like Pat Buchanan (of AmCon mag). He’s got a basic respect for discourse that’s rare among pundits raised on and trained for television. )

See Sibel’s website — 123 Real Change — for more about Grossman and other alleged Israeli spies from John Cole, former FBI Counterintel and Counterterror fellow, who has a book out this fall on the subject.

Edmonds is not yet impressed with Team Obama on these issues. From the AmCon interview:

First of all, Obama’s record as a senator, short as it was, spoke clearly. For all those changes that he was promising, he had done nothing. In fact, he had taken the opposite position, whether it was regarding the NSA’s wiretapping or the issue of national-security whistleblowers. We whistleblowers had written to his Senate office. He never responded, even though he was on the relevant committees.

As soon as Obama became president, he showed us that the State Secrets Privilege was going to continue to be a tool of choice. It’s an arcane executive privilege to cover up wrongdoing—in many cases, criminal activities.

And the Obama administration has not only defended using the State Secrets Privilege, it has been trying to take it even further than the previous terrible administration by maintaining that the U.S. government has sovereign immunity.

This is Obama’s change: his administration seems to think it doesn’t even have to invoke state secrets as our leaders are emperors who possess this sovereign immunity. This is not the kind of language that anybody in a democracy would use.

Also check out — at 123 — the Boiling Frogs podcasts, probing the National Security Apparat.

Eg, an interesting interview with investigative journalist Joe Trento, author of Prelude to Terror: The Rogue CIA and the Legacy of America’s Private Intelligence Network and The Secret History of the CIA. Here’s a tidbit.

boilingfrogs

September 29th, 2009

Larry Franklin was not alone

Former FBI Counterterror official John M. Cole confirms there was strong evidence that Marc Grossman (formerly of the State Dept) was spying for Israel, and says that over a hundred espionage investigations of same profile were turned off for no good reason during his time at the tiller.

Cole has a book out on the subject in November: While America Sleeps. (Echo of Churchill’s While England Slept …)

And here’s an extensive podcast interview with him. Very interesting. Robert Mueller at FBI did everything to keep this story from coming out.

See SIBEL EDMONDS’ website — 123 Real Change — for updates through time.