I didn’t know this committee existed.
I didn’t know this committee existed.
From Roger Cohen at the Times:
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, immediately put President Obama on notice.
Resurgent Republicans would be looking for him to â€śbe tough with Iran beyond sanctions.â€ť If it came to war, the United States should â€śsink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard, in other words neuter that regime.â€ť
Sure, Graham conceded, â€śyou can expect, for a period of time, all hell to break loose.â€ť Another war is the â€ślast thing America wants.â€ť But a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable and containment â€śoff the table.â€ť
This follows upon David Broder going on in the Post recently about how war with Iran would stimulate the economy.
A Halloween video interview with Haneen Zoabi, the first woman representing an Arab party to be elected to the Knesset — two days after being fired upon by Israeli police in Umm al Fahm.
And here’s an earlier print interview from the summer, shortly after her Privilege in the Knesset was revoked, rather violently, because she had participated in the Gaza Flotilla.
The headline over the video interview reads No Chance for Two States.
This follows, of course, upon the Great Finger that Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister, gave the UN General Assembly in September: Peace with Palestinians? Let’s talk in 20 years after we deal with Iran.
Team Obama, meanwhile, as supine as ever in the face of renewed East Jerusalem construction despite public requests to the contrary from the White House.
If the president who gave the Cairo speech does nothing, what hopeless enmity shall follow? World war over there (with Israel our Syracuse) and real terrorism over here (none of this Gang who Couldn’t Bomb Straight stuff) seems more likely than ever, post Lieberman.
Shocking thought: Might one vote for Jeb Bush in 2012 simply because his father (with whom he bears much more in common than his dopey black-sheep brother) was the only US president to have disciplined Israel since advent of Reagan?
Note to Files after seeing Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens on stage with Jon Stewart at the Sanity rally in Washington yesterday.
But first — here’s a blog entry re the 60s he wrote earlier this month.
And one from today re the Sanity affair. Pretty cool.
Mikhail Gorbachev’s foundation awarded a Peace Prize to CS/YI in November 2004, months after the singer-songwriter was bounced off a jetliner by the Yanks, his name having appeared on the chaotic Bush-Cheney No Fly list.
But of course it was more than that. He wasn’t merely barred from boarding. He did board. Then the Yanks sent up fighters and guided the plane to an emergency landing and … Ludacris crap.
Gorbachev himself awarded the prize at a ceremony in Rome. Two of my favorite people on the planet.
Curious. But Google won’t link to the website for 2012: TIME FOR CHANGE, a great documentary about, in a word, environmentalism, and the need for and possibilities for civilizational change.
Here’s the URL that Google won’t give you:
The film is showing in Los Angeles and New York. Go see if you can, or put it on your rental/stream que.
Ed Note: See here for background reaching back to August 2008, when the CIA commenced bombing Pakistan with drone missiles.
And see comments below to follow events henceforth, including the Peace Talks that turned out to have been attended by a Flim Flam Man in the guise of the Taliban. How long can this travesty go on?
Pakistan today closed off the main Khyber Pass portal that the US and its meagre coalition-of-the-willing use to supply their war efforts in Afghanistan, after the latest of recent US helicopter attacks killed three uniformed Paki servicemen.
Across the three days prior to the latest attack, Islamabad had expressed outrage at the helicopter raids, which at that point had killed many civilians among some sixty dead.
As the border closing was announced,
The Pakistani interior minister, Rehman Malik indicated that NATO strikes in Pakistan were being taken extremely seriously. â€śWe will have to see whether we are allies or enemies,â€ť he said Thursday.
The move to challenge the Americans also comes just two days after Pakistan’s top generals and American officials all expressed loud displeasure with the Islamabad government led by Benazir Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari:
American officials, too, say it has left them increasingly disillusioned with Mr. Zardari, a deeply unpopular president who was elected two and a half years ago on a wave of sympathy after the assassination of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. …
In a meeting on Monday that was played on the front page of Pakistanâ€™s newspapers, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, confronted the president and his prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, over incompetence and corruption in the government.
According to the press and Pakistani officials familiar with the conversation, the general demanded that they dismiss at least some ministers in the oversized 60-member cabinet, many of whom face corruption charges.
The civilian government has so far resisted the generalâ€™s demand. But the meeting was widely interpreted by the Pakistani news media, which has grown increasingly hostile to the president, as a rebuke to the civilian politicians and as having pushed the government to the brink.
After the meeting, the presidentâ€™s office issued a statement, approved by all the men, saying they had agreed â€śto protect the democratic process and to resolve all issues in accordance with the constitution.â€ť
A Pakistani official close to the president who was familiar with the conversation but did not want to be identified, said, â€śThe president made it clear that he would not leave, come what may.â€ť
â€śSanity had prevailed,â€ť the official added. …
In his most recent visit to Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke, the American special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said the international community could not be expected to provide all the billions of dollars needed to repair the flood damage, a warning interpreted here as a rebuke of the civilian government and its mismanagement.
But Washington, not unlike Pakistanâ€™s military, is caught, American officials say, because there is no appetite for a return of military rule. Nor is there desire to see the opposition politician and former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, resume power.
The last is interesting in that Sharif would be popular and even more difficult for Washington to control. But the Times report reports he has no interest in stepping up at the moment given the general chaos.
So it seems that just as Washington has abandoned President Karzai in favor of a perhaps imaginary reprise of Northern Alliance (non-Pashtun) so-called warlords, so across the border it may be looking for a collection of Men We Can Work With.
And as Fletcher Prouty pointed out (while discussing the assassination of President Diem of Vietnam in 1963), when Washington withdraws support of an allied leader, the latter’s native enemies soon swarm and conduct a coup. This may be the week that President Zardari became a walking dead man slated to join his wife in martyrdom. Or perhaps friends in Paris.
Along those lines, note that two weeks ago, September 17, in London, emigre Paki leader Imran Farooq was murdered, leading to great unease in Karachi (the New York of Pakistan), where the MQM party, which he once led and still helped manage, is a major power:
As [Robert Mackey's] colleague Carlotta Gall explained last week, the M.Q.M. represents families who moved to what is today Pakistan when India was partitioned in 1947:
“Political power struggles in the countryâ€™s sprawling port city of Karachi have degenerated into an ethnic turf war between two parties in the governing coalition, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, whose support base is drawn from Urdu-speaking immigrants, and the Awami National Party, whose base is mostly Pashtun. Targeted killings left 165 dead people in August, including some senior political figures.
Now tens of thousands of people displaced by the floods, most of them ethnic Sindhis, are arriving in Karachi, adding a volatile new element to the political dynamic there. While Sindhi nationalists are welcoming them, opponents, like M.Q.M. members, warn that they will create more violence.”
In 2007, the BBC explained that the M.Q.M.â€™s leaders have effectively run large parts of Karachi from London for years. At the time, a party spokesman said it was not necessary for the cityâ€™s leaders to actually be in Pakistan, since, â€śin these days of high-tech communication why not govern Karachi from London? Itâ€™s a new form of outsourcing.â€ť
And note that two days before Farooq was killed, the former Paki president General Pervez Musharraf announced he would return from friendly exile to start a new political party.
Meanwhile the long delayed NATO offensive to cleanse Kandahar of people who don’t side with the Kabul government of Karzai (whom the americans themselves have been steadily defaming for more than a year) seems to have muddled but continues. It began in mid August. Two days ago the American commander Petraeus told the press of peace talks of some sort . between Karzai and that loose coalition of unwilling various Afghans in arms referred to in the press as the Taliban.
All this comes against the great disaster of the summer in Pakistan — flooding of biblical proportions, which the western world reacted to largely with a yawn, but which since beginning in late July has (says the Times) “ruined just about every physical strand that knit this country together â€” roads, bridges, schools, health clinics, electricity and communications.”
Has Pakistan this September, under such pressures, begun to cease to exist as the state we’ve dealt with since the Soviet invasion next door?
Curious George Goes to the War
I donâ€™t want the war
Donâ€™t want the war I
Want the war I know
The war I know what
War I know what wars
I know what wars are
Know what wars are like.
I know the destruction and
Know the destruction and death
The destruction and death that
Destruction and death that comes
And death that comes with
Death that comes with them.
I am the one who
Am the one who has
The one who has to
One who has to comfort
Who has to comfort mothers
Has to comfort mothers and
To comfort mothers and widows
Comfort mothers and widows of
Mothers and widows of thee
And widows of the dead.
Of course for us that
Course for us that would
For us that would be
Us that would be the
That would be the best
Would be the best solution.
Besides it would save us
It would save us fifty
Would save us fifty billion.
As part of the protracted transition back to Manhattan, I just sold all my Avalon Hill war games to an enthusiast, cutting a tie to passionate childhood, wishing to lay burdens down by the riverside and study war no more.
When things get too confused on the screen, go to paper.
Simmons is a legendary oil service man. One of the planet’s genii in this sphere.
Both men offer practical containment ideas that should be used and don’t understand the government’s inaction.
And both assert at length that the little geyser we’ve been watching on TV is not the prime leak.
Friend and poet Michael Gushue reports this alleged lost scene from the Citizen Kane script:
Kane stands with his butler/factotum, Raymond in the family tomb. His only son, Charles Foster Kane II, is dead at the age of 31. The year is 1938, and workmen are setting a slab on the grave.
After they leave, Kane looks at the simple inscriptions on the crypts of his father, mother and son.
Above the blank space reserved for him, is an inscription on an ornate, ancient wall imported from Persia.
Kane translates for Raymond (bored and couldn’t care less):
The drunkenness of youth
Has passed like a fever
And yet I saw many things
Seeing my glory in the days of my glory
I thought my power eternal
And the days of my life
Fixed surely in the years
But a whisper came to me
From Him who dies not
I called my tributary kings together
And those who were proud rulers under me
I opened the boxes of my treasure to them, saying
“Take hills of gold, mountains of silver
And give me one more day upon the earth”
But they stood silent
Looking upon the ground
So that I died
And Death came to sit upon my throne
O sons of men
You see a stranger upon the road
You call to him and he does not stop
He is your life
Walking towards time
Hurrying to meet the kings of India and China
O sons of men
You are caught in the web of the world
And the spider
Nothing waits behind it
Where are the men with towering hopes?
They have changed places with owls
Owls who lived in tombs
And now inhabit a palace
We live in affluence
And are blind to where we are
Our concerns and feuds
Fill our time every day
You must ask yourself
What is the worth?
It has begun.
What the Dice Man has joined may none put asunder.
If your brakes don’t work, smile as you go under.
What’s he building in there?
This is actually a conversion of a screenplay, the antepenultimate, my fifth, from 2005, into a novel. Thought about doing it before. Now it seems to have gone and …
The opening paragraph seems to be:
In June 2004, after five Medecins Sans Frontieres were found murdered in the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan, Aaron called, for the first time since coming to New York with Maya. Long out of touch had been the pattern of a friendship born and first aborted in Texas, then again at Duke, before settling down to disjointed maturity during years of criss-crossing work overseas. Since the rebirth of History the routine had been that to meet for coffee one went to Baghdad or Bosnia or Berlin.
That, or perhaps:
He would miss his turn.
And so on to the end.
If we shall suppose that writing lengthy bits that no one shall ever read is one of those offenses which, in the providence of Dog, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both Yea and Ney this terrible task as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living Dog always ascribe to Him?
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of lore may speedily pass away.
Yet, if Dog wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the pen man’s sore head and hands and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the quill shall be paid by another drawn by the horde, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the lord are true and righteous altogether.”
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as Dog gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Major piece in February’s Harper’s. Hats off to them.
The center does not hold.
Obama has done nothing but talk on this.
Wow. Sounds like a little boy.
His bland loyalty to Daddy perhaps explains North Korea.
Ed Note: See comments below to follow events into 2011
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.
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?
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.
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 …?
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.”