That's "Campana-stan" or ''Land of Campana." It reflects the Weltanschauung of Michael E. Campana, President-for-Life of the Republic of Campanastan. Welcome to Campanastan - no passports or visas required!
Texas Agriculture Law Blog Don't let the name fool you - there are lots of water issues in agriculture and Tiffany Dowell of Texas A&M University does a fabulous job with this important Internet resource. Give it a read - I do every day!
The Way of Water Oregon State University Geography PhD Student, Jennifer Veilleux, records her fieldwork, research, and thoughts about transboundary water resources development in the Nile River and Mekong River basins. Particular attention is given to Ethiopia's Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Laos' Xayaburi Dam projects.
Thirsty in Suburbia Gayle Leonard documents things from the world of water that make us smile: particularly funny, amusing and weird items on bottled water, water towers, water marketing, recycling, the art-water nexus and working.
This Day in Water History Michael J. 'Mike' McGuire, engineer extraordinaire, NAE member, and author of 'The Chlorine Revolution', blogs about historical happenings in the fields of drinking water and wastewater keyed to calendar dates.
WaSH Resources New publications, web sites and multi-media on water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH).
Water 50/50 From Jay Famiglietti at UC-Irvine. Fifty lectures in fifty weeks: The 2012 Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lectureship. A global lecture tour delivering the message about our changing water cycle, groundwater depletion, and the future of freshwater availability.
Watershed Moments: Thoughts from the Hydrosphere From Sarah Boon - rediscovering her writing and editing roots after 13 years, primarily as an environmental scientist. Her writing centres around creative non-fiction, specifically memoir and nature writing. The landscapes of western Canada are her main inspiration.
WaterWired All things fresh water: news, comment, and analysis from hydrogeologist Michael E. Campana, Professor at Oregon State University.
Western Water Blog The 'mystery blog' about Western USA water issues. What more can I say?
xAnalytical Doug Walker's xAnalytical blog:Turning Data and Information into Knowledge
"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when asked about weapons of mass destruction in an ABC News interview, 30 March 2003 (Source)
As some of you know I traveled to Iran in early January for a scientific meeting in Isfahan, a city of around 2 million about five hours' drive south of Tehran. I have not posted about my trip save for a brief description about the meeting on 10 -11 January over at my WaterWired blog.
In the book she recounts her childhood from just before the 1979 Islamic Revolution till about 1984. At that time, during the Iran-Iraq War, her parents sent her to high school in Vienna.
The book is absolutely delightful. Some would call this a children's book or a comic book, and that's fine with me. Satrapi was a terribly precocious, bright, and observant child and her comments on life in Iran during the turmoil are remarkable and insightful. She's not a fan of the Islamic state, and that comes through without polemics - she just describes what happens (usually stupid things) and the reader can draw his or her own conclusions. In case you're wondering, the Shah - Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi - doesn't come off as a great guy. Yeah, he started out doing some good things - women's suffrage, among others - but he became a despot. Still, he was the 'USA's despot' so he was okay.
The illustrations are simple and add much to the story.
Megyn Kellytells it like it is. Dick gets his feet held to the fire. Or taken to the sandbox.
The Dickster must have thought he'd stumbled into the MSNBC studios by mistake.
You go, girl!
"In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists, had an established relationship with al Qaeda, and his regime is no more." –Vice President Dick Cheney, Nov. 7, 2003
Barney Popkin's latest missive, from back home in Tucson.
But first, his message:
Hello all, hope y'all are well. I am now back in Tucson, Arizona after 26 hours of international travel from Islamabad through Dubai and Atlanta. Atlanta's Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport claims to be the world's biggest airport. In the South, if you ask a preacher if you are going to Heaven or Hell, he'll tell you, "I don't know, but for sure you'll be going through Atlanta!" Back home, LSW is rigorously campaigning for our young, Harvard-grad, Navajo niece running in a Democrat primary for the first Native American Representative to our U.S. House of Representatives. I wish her a long and prosperous life but not in politics as she favors everything I oppose - socialism, larger government, environmentalism, unions, gay marriage, federal handouts, increased taxes on working people, etc. Nonetheless, it's "history" in the making. LSW sees the "history" as the rise of Native American and people of color power. I see the "history" as the budding dictatorship by democracy over good public law and policy, over the domination of the beneficiary majority here at home - the tyranny our founders fear would happen if we abandoned representative, Constitutional republican government. Ugh, now back to trying to got sleep once more out of schedule, swollen eyes and throat and loose, well no need to go into that. Oh, good to be home after three weeks of lock-down, swim in my own pool, rough-house with my own dog, and kiss my own LSW. Yahoo!
A Polish nobleman is riding by a Jewish ghetto some centuries ago. He sees several targets painted on the outside of the walls and upon closer inspection, notes that most of the bullets are exactly in the target center. He is surprised to see this, and asks around, “Who is such a good shot?” Several people tell him it’s Moshe, the tailor’s young son. The nobleman is determined to meet the youngster and see what he might learn from him. Making arrangements, the nobleman meets the young man and asks him how he has so perfected his armament skills. Moshe replies, “Why should I be a bad shot? It’s simple, you see: first, I shoot at the wall. Then, I paint the target around the bullet!”
When it comes to national security, Michael V. Hayden is no shrinking violet. As CIA director, he ran the Bush administration's program of warrantless wiretaps against suspected terrorists.
But the retired air force general admits to being a little squeamish about the Obama administration's expanding use of pilotless drones to kill suspected terrorists around the world -- including, occasionally, U.S. citizens.
"Right now, there isn't a government on the planet that agrees with our legal rationale for these operations, except for Afghanistan and maybe Israel," Hayden told me recently.
As an example of the problem, he cites the example of Anwar Awlaki, the New Mexico-born member of al-Qaida who was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen last September. "We needed a court order to eavesdrop on him," Hayden notes, "but we didn't need a court order to kill him. Isn't that something?"
Hayden isn't the only one who has qualms about the "targeted killing" program. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has been pressing the administration to explain its rules for months.
In a written statement, Feinstein said she thinks Awlaki was "a lawful target" but added that she still thinks the administration should explain its reasoning more openly "to maintain public support of secret operations."
As Hayden puts it: "This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president, and that's dangerous."
There has been remarkably little public debate about the drone strikes, which have killed at least 1,300 people in Pakistan alone since President Obama came to office. Little debate inside the United States, that is. But overseas, the operations have prompted increasing opposition and could turn into a foreign policy headache.
The last paragraph really hits home: little public debate about the drone strikes and the number of poeple killed since President Obama came to office.
I used to think that when it came to warfare, we were 'better' than those we were fighting. We did not torture. We did not use terms like 'collateral damage'. We tried to be 'the good guys'. Now I am not so sure. That's discomforting to me.
Here are the last two paragraphs of McManus' column:
The biggest problem with this newly invented form of clandestine warfare is that its rules have been made on the fly. The Obama administration, like the Bush administration, has made crucial decisions with little outside review and virtually no public scrutiny.
The administration says it has the authority to kill U.S. citizens who are active in al-Qaida, but it's never explained how that squares with the Constitution's guarantee of due process. It's past time that it did so.
Got this from a Paul Krugman Tweet, 'Why Is Tom Friedman Still Writing for the New York Times?'
Here's Tom Friedman with Charlie Rose in 2003 talking about the Iraq War.
What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, “Which part of this sentence don’t you understand?” You don’t think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we’re just gonna to let it grow? Well, Suck. On. This. ..We could have hit Saudi Arabia. It was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That’s the real truth…'- Tom Friedman (from the above video)
Friedman should remember that bubbles are often full of hot air, just like he is.
Here is what Friedman is saying these days (thanks toJay Ackroyd):
As I never bought the argument that Saddam had nukes that had to be taken out, the decision to go to war stemmed, for me, from a different choice: Could we collaborate with the people of Iraq to change the political trajectory of this pivotal state in the heart of the Arab world and help tilt it and the region onto a democratizing track? After 9/11, the idea of helping to change the context of Arab politics and address the root causes of Arab state dysfunction and Islamist terrorism — which were identified in the 2002 Arab Human Development Report as a deficit of freedom, a deficit of knowledge and a deficit of women’s empowerment — seemed to me to be a legitimate strategic choice.
You go, Tom!
'We hit Iraq because we could. That’s the real truth…' - Tom Friedman, 29 May 2003
A number of people have asked me how I felt about Osama bin Laden’s death. It’s not that I have any great insight, but as the family member of a 9/11 victim, I suppose people are curious. Did I cheer with the revelers at the Phillies game I was watching when the death was announced, or feel sorrow, relief, anguish, joy, or just what?
The best term I can use is ‘bittersweet’. ‘Bitter’ because it conjured visions of Ann’s murder and those of thousands of others - not just in the USA but elsewhere. It conjured images of intelligence failures. like the FBI folks in DC who ignored the warnings from field offices that some foreign guys were taking flying lessons but didn't care to learn how to take off and land. It reminded me of those who had called Osama bin Laden ‘irrelevant’ (I especially remember Ann Coulter saying that, in all her wisdom), forgetting that a man responsible for the murder of thousandsnever becomes ‘irrelevant’.
'Sweet' because a mass murderer was brought to justice. But I wasn't cheering in the streets, although I was ambivalent about others doing it. If that's what they needed to do, so be it.
I received a call from BBC’s World Have Your Say at 5 AM the morning after Osama bin Laden’s death. A producer named Ben James wanted to know if they could interview me on air; I told him yes, and we discussed what I might say. They never called.
Nancy Laflin, a reporter for KRQE-TV in Albuquerque called about 12 hours later. She had interviewed me on that fateful Tuesday in 2001, and her kindness and compassion were so soothing. I got that same feeling almost ten years later.
The calls from James and Laflin (especially) were cathartic; they allowed me to vent, especially to James. Easy to vent to a faceless someone on the phone 5,000 miles away - someone you will never see.
I remember reading that Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) decried the manner in which bin Laden was killed. Paul mused whether we would have taken the same approach had OBL been in a London hotel room . I thought of two responses to Paul’s inquiry:
1) Osama bin Laden was not in a London hotel room but in a safe house in the middle of a town where Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point was located.
2) Had bin Laden been in a London hotel room the UK might have beaten us to the punch. At a minimum, we would not have had to worry about the Brits alerting him to leave town.
Nice call, Ron.
Regarding the Pakistani authorities: they are either incompetent or duplicitous, or both (likely). These guys aren’t our allies; they are gaming us. Pakistan is a dysfunctional backwater, but unfortunately, one with a few hundred nuclear weapons. That is their hold over us. We're throwing money down a rathole. We should tell them to take a hike.
And that goes double for the corrupt Karzai in Afghanistan.
A final comment: I was absolutely incredulous when I heard former Bush administration official Stephen Hadley give a spirited defense of the Iraq War as the reason/rationale for bin Laden's being brought to justice.
And last but not least - thanks to the wonderful support of Mary Frances!
"The PDB (Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.) does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says Bin Laden would like to attack the United States. I don't think you, frankly, had to have that report to know that Bin Laden would like to attack the United States." --Condoleezza Rice
"We do know of certain knowledge that he[Osama bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead." -- Donald H. Rumsfeld, 27 December 2007
Here is the 60 Minutes piecedescribing the alleged fabrications/exaggerations of events in Mortenson's books and allegations of financial mismanagement. Here are Mortenson's responses (#1 and #2) to questions raised by the show.
You can also find responses and statements from Mortenson on the CAI's WWW site.
Troubling accusations; it does look like Mortenson stretched the truth when it came to anecdotes. And the CAI doesn't benefit directly from his book sales and speaking fees, although it appears that his travel expenses are paid by the CAI.
In New West, Dennis Higman wote this compelling piece in defense of Mortenson, "The Greg Mortenson We Knew". Interesting that Higman used the past tense of the verb in the title. Be sure to read the comments on the article; today's quote is from one of the commenters.
What's sad is that our so-called leaders are much more interested in fear and loathing than upholding openness and freedom. Private Bradley Manning -- accused of leaking the State Department cables but not charged -- has been held in solitary confinement for nine months. That's not justice. That's fascism.
In Campanstan's part of the world there is a surfeit of bozo rulers. The President-for-Life is surrounded by these guys. But at least they make me look good.
Take Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan - please! Or Karimov in Uzbekistan! Both these ex-Soviet clowns became 'democrats' overnight.
Fortunately we are rid of Niyazov (aka Turkmenbashi) in Turkmenistan.
But the PFL's favorite bozo is my good buddy, Hamid Karzai, the feckless, venal autocrat who looks like the Good Humor ice cream man of my youth. But if all he did was peddle ice cream we'd all be better off!
So what brings my wrath down upon Karzai? I was watching Fareed Zakaria this morning and learned that the recent killings of 20 people in Afghanistan over the burning of a copy of the Quran by idiot preacher Terry Jones and friends in Florida (who prove that 'bozoism' is not restricted to the rest of the world) was fomented by Karzai.
The Quran burning, over two weeks old, was largely unreported by the media. Karzai picked up on it recently to inflame anti-Americanism. He succeeded, and has apparently expressed remorse, but wants Jones arrested.
Don't get me wrong - I fully support Jones' right to burn a Quran, Bible, or whatever. Under the Frist Amendment, that is his right, however stupid and disrespectful the act is. It's also Karzai's right to say Jones should be arrested (he would be in Afghanistan). But I certainly do not support the right of Muslims (likely mostly Taliban in the case at hand) to kill people in response to Quran-burning.
Zakaria made an excellent point of all this: it would be great to hear moderate Islamic leaders condemn the murderers, but it will likely be a cold day in hell before that happens.
As I said, we have a surfeit of bozos.
"Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups." -- John Kenneth Galbraith
Friend and colleague Ken Reid sent me this picture with the accompanying note.
I was very moved by this picture of this soldier in Iraq with his tiny 'plot' of grass in front of his tent. It's heartwarming! Here is a soldier stationed in Iraq , stationed in a big sand box. He asked his wife to send him dirt ( U.S. soil), fertilizer, and some grass seed so that he can have the sweet aroma, and feel the grass grow beneath his feet. When the men of the squadron have a mission that they are going on, they take turns walking through the grass and the American soil -- to bring them good luck.
If you notice, he is even cutting the grass with a pair of scissors. Sometimes we are in such a hurry that we don't stop and think about the little things that we take for granted.
Upon receiving this, say a little prayer for our soldiers that give and give (and give up) so unselfishly for us.
P.S. Let's also keep Japan in our prayers...the devastation and possible loss of an entire town is gut wrenching!
“Blame no one. Expect nothing. Do something.” – sign in the New York Giants’ locker room
Skateistan: To Live And Skate Kabul is a beautifully shot film that follows the lives of a group of young skateboarders in Afghanistan. Operating against the backdrop of war and bleak prospects, the Skateistan charity project is the world’s first co-educational skateboarding school, where a team of international volunteers work with girls and boys between the ages of 5 and 17, an age group largely untouched by other aid programmes.
It's quite fun to fight 'em, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling.
You are part of the world's most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you enagge your weapon.
Our fight is not with the Iraqi people, nor is it with members of the Iraqi army who choose to surrender. While we will move swiftly and aggressively against those who resist, we will treat all others with decency, demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people who have endured a lifetime under Saddam's oppression.
"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap around women for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway, so it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."(2005)
No diplomat, he! Kinda guy you want watching your back.
"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." –Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when asked about weapons of mass destruction in an ABC News interview, 30 March 2003
Hard to believe the Iraq War began seven years ago today.
I remember where I was when it began: attending the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan. The Japanese had set up large-screen TVs throughout the conference center and all were tuned to CNN. I recall a group of us staring in silence at a large screen, watching the invasion unfold, all in that eerie green light.
CNN switched to President Bush, who announced the invasion and explained its rationale. Again, we watched, although the silence was occasionally punctuated by hushed comments, not all in English.
Then, from the back of the pack, came an American-accented female voice: "My God! He does look like Alfred E. Neuman!" Those of us who understood her comment dissipated the solemnity with laughter.
We've come such a long way since 20 March 2003.
"Americans are rising to the tasks of history, and they expect the same of us." -- George W. Bush
I just finished a remarkable book (the title of this post) about an even more remarkable woman - Gertrude Bell (1868-1926). Georgina Howell's book is generally accepted as one of the best of the Bell biographies.
By any measure, Bell was extraordinary. Whatever she chose to do - designing gardens, Alpine mountaineering, writing, translating, exploring the Middle East, learning languages, etc. - she did it very well. At age 18 she became the first woman to achive a First in History at Oxford.
She was born into a wealthy English family. She used her family's money to finance her expeditions to the Middle East.
You would have expected someone like Bell to be an ardent feminist and supporter of women's suffrage. But she was opposed to the latter. Howell suggests that she was really a patrician, and was annoyed enough that lower-class men had been given granted the vote, so why compound the problem and grant lower-class women the vote as well?
She's been called many things, among them: Queen of the desert; Queen of Iraq; female Lawrence of Arabia. Modern day Iraq is largely the result of Bell. She had as much to do with fomenting the Arab Revolt of WWI as did T.E. Lawrence, albeit from behind the scenes.
She committed suicide in Baghdad, dismayed that the Iraq she helped create was unraveling. Wonder what she'd think of things now.
Whether you admire intrepid, intellligent and unconventional women, wish to learn more of recent Middle East history, or just savor a good biography, I recommend Howell's book.
"...the holy men sat in an atmosphere reeking of antiquity, so thick with the dust of ages that you can't see through it --nor can they." -- Gertrude Bell
"Why will promising young Englishmen marry such fools of women?" -- Gertrude Bell, to a young colleague and his bride at a luncheon in Baghdad
"When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Just roll to your rifle an' blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." --Rudyard Kipling
Now I know what happened to all those guys from Sigma Nu I went to school with: they grew up to become private security guards, working for the State Department, protecting the embassy in Kabul.
Actually, I'm wrongfully impugning the reputation of my frat-boy classmates; even they would not indulge in such moronic behavior: drinking alcohol from butt cracks, posing half-naked in sexually suggestive positions.
So, instead, forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.
Genius, said de Gaulle, recalling Bismarck's decision to halt German forces short of Paris in 1870, sometimes consists of knowing when to stop. Genius is not required to recognize that in Afghanistan, when means now, before more American valor, such as Allen's, is squandered.
The British couldn't do it, the Soviets couldn't do it, but we can do it. Uh-huh.
"It's like walking through the Old Testament." --Dutch commander in Afghanistan
Wish I could say his interview with Steve Inskeep left me with a good feeling, but I'd be lying. Ricks, who wrote the excellent Fiasco, thinks we're only about halfway through our time in Iraq. He notes that no one in Baghdad think that all the combat troops will be out by 2011.
Some snippets from the interview:
"The point is as long as you have American troops in Iraq, no matter what you call them, they are going to be fighting and dying," Ricks says. "The surge worked tactically — it improved security enormously. But it didn't succeed strategically, politically. And that was its larger goal."
Ricks argues that the Iraq war "was the biggest mistake in the history of American foreign policy," adding that "we don't yet understand how big a mistake this is."
He paints a bleak long-term picture for Iraq, where the country is no longer an American ally.
"It's not going to be a democracy, it's going to have a surprising level of violence, it's probably going to be an ally of Iran and it's probably going to be ruled by some sort of dictator, some sort of little Saddam," Ricks says.
One thing he mentioned really disturbed me. While giving a talk near Mill Valley, CA - that bastion of liberalism in Marin County - he told his audience he believed that if we drew down the troops too much, genocide would likely result.
The response from the "Gucci liberals"? "So what?" and "Genocide happens all the time."
Enlightened comments from the same people who no doubt donate heavily to Darfur causes and decried our inaction during the Rwandan genocide. Wonderful.
"The events for which this war will be remembered have not yet occurred." -- Thomas Ricks, The Gamble, paraphrasing Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq
The world is getting a chuckle over President Bush's encounter with Muntafar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw two shoes at Bush and called him a dog.
The Arab world especially finds the incident amusing.
The interesting thing to note is that al-Zaidi is still alive, although beaten by Iraqi security guards, and will stand trial.
Had he thrown his shoes at and insulted an Arab head of state, do you think he would have been so lucky?
Aicha, a daughter of Col. Gaddafi, the Libyan ruler, will supposedly award al-Zaidi a medal for courage. What do you think he would have gotten had he done that same thing to her father?
The Arabs might want to think a bit more deeply about what this incident really says about their corner of the world.
“The irony is the Arab regimes, who criticize the gaps in the (Iraqi) elections and demand they be honest and transparent leading to full democracy for all Iraqis, are themselves banning such elections for their own peoples.” -- Lebanon’s Al-Anwar newspaper political analyst Rafik Khoury, 30 January 2005
Here are the first two paragraphs from the story by James Glanz and T. Christian Miller:
BAGHDAD — An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.
The history, the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.
"We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories ... And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." -- President George W. Bush, 30 May 2003
Alexandra Marks wrote a very good story on "Rethinking the post-9/11 strategy" in the 1 August 2008 edition of the Christian Science Monitor. You can also listen to her audio report.
She reported that folks on both sides of the political fence agree on two things: 1) there has not been a successful terrorist attack within the USA since 9/11; and 2) Al-Qaeda is losing support in Iraq and is on the run.
The first point will get no arguments and the second point is certainly true, but let's remember one thing: there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq until we invaded and "created" the organization. So claiming victory over an organization that your invasion created is disingenuity personified. This seems to be a difficult fact for people to grasp.
This is an example of the "Field of Dreams - Flypaper" approach to fight terrorists: if you start a war anywhere, they will come, then you can kill them off and claim victory. It assumes one thing not in evidence: that terrorist organizations have a fixed number of fighters, so you can kill them anywhere (e.g., the "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" mentality).
It's not a zero-sum game.
Our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan reminds me of Pete Seeger's great song, Waist Deep in the Big Muddy. Seeger wrote it in the 1960s and it soon became a favorite of anti-Vietnam war protesters, although it's ostensibly about a World War II incident in Louisiana.
"But every time I read the paper them old feelings come on. We're waist deep in the Big Muddy, the big fool says to push on." -- Pete Seeger
The book deals with Israeli-Iranian relations in the last 50 years and their impact on US policies and America’s standing in the Middle East. It’s the first book in more than 20 years that deals with the highly sensitive issue of Iran and Israel’s dealings.It is based on more than 130 interviews with high-level Israeli, Iranian and American officials. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Iran and Israel are not entangled in an ideological clash, but rather a resolvable strategic conflict. The book explains both how this rivalry erupted and how it can be resolved. And of course, it reveals many of Iran and Israel’s behind-the-scene dealings that have never been revealed before.
It was not his book that struck me about the interview, but Parsi's contention that in 2003, right after the "success" of the Iraq invasion, Iran approached the USA through back channels (the Swiss) about wanting to negotiate about nuclear weapons and other issues.
The Bush Administration never responded, believing the inquiry was not legitimate or that they could effect "regime change" in Iran as they had just done in Iraq. After all, at the time, we were strong and Iran, scared.
Now, the tables are turned. Larry Wilkerson, then chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, attested to the legitimacy of the request and believes that an opportunity was lost. Duhhh, yeah Larry, looks that way to me!
In studying civil wars from 1940-2000, she concluded:
nearly half (46%) of all ongoing civil wars involve religion;
Islam has been involved in more than 80% of all religious civil wars; and
religious wars rarely end in negotiated settlements but until one side achieves victory.
She posits that a negotiated settlement will be difficult because although the Shiites will want to remain in power, it will be difficult to know with whom to bargain because the Shiites themselves are divided on how to rule Iraq. But by withdrawing, the USA will force the Shiites and the Sunnis to come together through their dislike for their mutual classical adversaries, the Kurds and the Iranians.
There are downsides to this exit strategy, to be sure. But Toft feels that we do not have a choice between victory and failure, but between a less costly failure and a more costly failure.
Great choice - I believe they call it a 'Hobson's choice'.
"Our nation must come together to unite." -- President George W. Bush, 4 June 2001
I'm sure you read about the article in the 20 April 2008 New York Times about the media "analysts" who would frequently pop up on your favorite TV news show analyzing the events in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These guys were former military men, many of them generals, who presumably were supposed to be objective commentators on the wars. Some were still plugged into the defense industry, employed by firms holding/seeking DoD contracts.
Here's the transcript of an audio clip featured yesterday morning on the CNN show Reliable Sources, hosted by Howard Kurtz. It recounts a 2006 meeting between DoD Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (shown here with his favorite dictator) and more than a dozen "analysts". Two different men are speaking, both directing their remarks to Secretary Rumsfeld:
We would love...for you to take the offensive and just go out there and just crush these people...You are the leader, you're our guy...You go on O'Reilly and you've got him eating out of your hand because you're smart."
Does that sound like a recipe for "objective analysis"?
Can you spell L-A-C-K-E-Y-S? But should we have expected something different, given these guys' backgrounds?
Who vetted these guys before hiring them as "analysts"?
"Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary, confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror." - President George W. Bush
Friend Marc Herman, who shares my sense of humor and Weltanschauung, told me that my post about Douglas Feith and his "unhappiness" at the way things unfolded in Iraq reminded him of one of Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World cartoons.
Douglas J. Feith, former #3 man at Ronnie Dumsfeld's Pentagon, card-carrying neocon, and one of the main architects of the Iraq War, is making the rounds this week to promote his new book, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism.
Feith, now a professor at Georgetown University, was "present at the creation" of the decision to invade Iraq, and his book is hailed as the first (of likely more) "insider" books, George Tenet's opus notwithstanding.
Steve Kroft interviewed Feith on 60 Minutes last Sunday. Feith is mainly unrepentant, but he is certainly not happy at the way things turned out. But his "unhappiness" seems to stem solely from the fact that a great many lives have been lost, not because of any false pretext for war and deception of the American public.
Kroft noted that Feith is donating the book's profits to a charitable foundation.
Feith makes the point that the Iraq War was not about WMDs, but to derail Saddam Hussein, i.e., a "preventive war", so we would not have to fight him later on his terms. So what was all that stuff about WMDs?
He's also been on NPR's Morning Edition this week - 8-9 April. You can read the story and hear his 8 April interview with Steve Inskeephere; this link leads to the 9 April interview, which deals with Feith and the role of Ahmed Chalabi.
Feith claims that the public's understanding of his role has been misunderstood. You think?
"The Iraq war was always a long shot," Packer says. "But it was made immeasurably longer by its principal architects in Washington, including Douglas Feith, who ignored expert advice, reserved most of their effort for fighting each other in ideological battles and regarded the Iraqi people as an afterthought."
Regardless of what you think about Feith, neocons, and the Iraq War, you ought to take the time to examine his contentions.
"Douglas Feith was the Michael Brown of the Iraq War." -- George Packer, author of The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq
Hard to believe that the Iraq War is five years old today. Here's the original team.
I remember where I was when the war unfolded: Kyoto, Japan, attending the Third World Water Forum(3WWF). Our Japanese hosts had large HDTVs set up throughout the Kyoto Convention Center. They were tuned toCNN, and most of the conferees stood transfixed. We were bathed in the eerie green light from the screen as we watched the rockets and shells rained down on Baghdad. But even in this moment of utmost gravity, humor surfaced. As President Bush appeared to announce the invasion, a woman behind me said, "My God, he does look like Alfred E. Newman!".
The Christian Science Monitor has a serieson the war, replete with videos. Here is avideofrom Sen. James Webb (D-VA) on the war and how the next president's options may be limited because of agreements being negotiated between the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government.
Here is a New York Times article on the war's cost.
"We're in for a long struggle, and I think Texans understand that. And so do Americans." -- President George W. Bush, El Paso, TX, 21 March 2002
Let's not forget that the "original" TWOT (The War on Terror) is really in Afghanistan; the war on terror in Iraq was our own creation. The Taliban governed Afghanistan and provided safe haven for Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda murderers; we overthrew them. They were complict in 9/11.
Then we forgot about the place and wrongly devoted most of our energies to invading Iraq, which had not attacked us.
It's time to consider a surge in Afghanistan. Our NATO allies are losing their will. *********************
The World Can't Ignore the Al Qaeda and Taliban Threat in Afghanistan
A surge by the US and its allies is needed in the country.
4 February 2008, editorial in the Christian Science Monitor
A triple alarm sounded on Afghanistan last week. Three reports by reputable, nonpartisan groups in the US concluded that it's a country verging on failure. It needs more troops and aid, the reports said. The international community must step up – and soon.
Despite President Bush's encouraging remarks about this "young democracy" in his Jan. 28 State of the Union address, all is not well.
Yes, hospitals and roads are being built, and boys and girls are going to school, as Mr. Bush said. But last year saw the highest casualties since the post-9/11 invasion in 2001 (mostly of insurgents), as the Taliban fights hard in the south. The former rulers can now launch suicide bomb attacks in the capital of Kabul. The war looks like a military stalemate.
The increased violence reduced the number of children attending school in Afghanistan by 50 percent in 2007, and private investment also plummeted. Meanwhile, the opium trade that bankrolls the Taliban flourishes.
So does its haven next door in Pakistan. Seven years into this war and the Taliban and Al Qaeda have regrouped and spread their control in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas. They've stepped up terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, and are blamed for the assassination of political opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. United States and European officials have traced terrorist plots in Britain, Germany, and Denmark to Pakistan's lawless tribal areas.
In reality, Afghanistan and Pakistan are not two theaters in this war, but one terrorist showplace. Together, they present a terrorist breeding ground "potentially worse than before September 11th," according to "Saving Afghanistan," a report by the Atlantic Council, which was presented at a US Senate hearing Jan. 31.
Fortunately, Washington looks to be awakening to this danger. The Pentagon plans to send in 3,200 more troops and has pledged to finance an increase of 10,000 soldiers for the Afghan Army. It's successfully putting what it learned about working with tribal leaders in Iraq's Anbar Province into practice in eastern Afghanistan, where, for instance, it's funding Islamic religious schools to stem the flow of youngsters to more radical schools in Pakistan.
The US is also coordinating more closely with Pakistani intelligence. It scored a major win last week when a missile, reportedly from a US drone, killed Abu Laith al-Libi in the Pakistani tribal areas. Mr. Libi was the mastermind behind insurgent attacks in Afghanistan, including last year's bombing at Bagram Air Base during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney.
But what of Washington's allies? Defense Secretary Robert Gates has urged his friends in NATO to send more troops to Afghanistan, especially to the hot war in the south. (The US contributes a third of the 42,000 NATO-led international forces in Afghanistan.) But the public in these countries blindly believe they have no dog in this fight and are pressing their governments to get out.
And what of Pakistan? Is President Pervez Musharraf serious this time about routing out terrorists now that they've focused on his own nuclear-armed country?
The alarm has sounded. The US is responding more forcefully. Its allies must follow. **********************
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." -- President George W. Bush
I've been in Campanastan long enough to know that APEs (Acronym-Producing Expressions) are essential components of everyday life (well, maybe my everyday life).
Mary Frances and I were listening to NPR yesterday; the story was about Afghanistan, and the news reader said that "Afghanistan was becoming a failed state." I thought to myself, becoming? What's up with that? When was it not a failed state?
The original site of our first sortie in The War On Terror (TWOT), Afghanistan (aka 'Allah's Cat Box') has gone rapidly downhill after we diverted our attention to Iraq. The Taliban is reemergent, its place as a prime narco-state has been restored....you know the story.
Anyway, I told Mary Frances that "FS" made a lousy acronym and that we needed a better one.
I said, "How about Fucked-Up State, or FUS?
She replied, "It's not really a state. How about 'state-like entity', so we could have the acronym FUSLE?
"Wonderful," I said. "So we have a Fucked-Up State-Like Entity, or FUSLE."
Aghanistan is a FUSLE, and we can include Iraq as well, with Pakistan sliding towards the abyss, too. They are all FUSLEs.
It was a great start to the day.
"War is the unfolding of miscalculations." -- Barbara Tuchman
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