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July 15, 2007

Comments

Yes. Just yes. The incredible shifting rationales for the insane foreign policy decisions made by George Bush have left the press and much of the public with basket of varied and often conflicting ideas about why we did what we did, and what are current priorities should be. But these rationales are make-believe, they are PR, they are lies, and they are distracting us from the fact that wiping out a pivotaal secular state in the region may radicalize the whole area. Can you imagine how India and Israel will change if Pakistan shifts to a Taliban-like government? And George Bush will have finally found his WMDs.

EW - kudos for continuing to beat the drums on the dangers of Pakistan. I was very concerned about the Red Mosque attack this past week - another example of the fractures in Pakistani society, and the increasing inability of the Punjabi-dominated military to control events. I don't know if the Red Mosque will become a Golden Temple moment, like the Sikhs in India, but clearly there will be no movement against the Taliban in the border provinces of Afghanistan in this climate, and certainly Osama is as safe in Pakistan now as he ever was in Sudan or Affghanistan.

Nonetheless, Iraq needs to be dealt with.

DemFromCt

Perhaps the issue is regionalizing it. We can't fix Iraq. The sole goal, at this point, must be avoiding all-out regional war. Though, as I said, that seems to be Cheney's (and with him, probably Bandar's) goal.

What's the risk to Russia and China, I wonder, if Pakistan fails? Operating under the assumption that we are engaged in asymmetrical global warfare over control of energy resources, would fomenting upheaval in Eurasia benefit the "universal fascist*" like Cheney by increasing the risks to the entities holding the largest piles of resources, while increasing the value of the resources held by Cheney et al? Ostensibly, Russia has been working with Iran on development of a nuclear plant for the purposes of generating electricity for some time, within the framework of the non-proliferation treaties. What was traded in exchange for this assistance -- Iranian natural gas, of which Iran has the second largest supply in the world, and which would cost little in terms of infrastructure to deliver to Russian interests? Is increased instability between Russia and Iran desired, in order to thwart this process and sever both delivery of natural gas as well as technology transfers? Possible upheaval in Pakistan occurs physically at China's back door, likely preventing any movement of natural gas from Iran by pipeline to China. For these reasons I can't help but agree that this has Cheney's signature, if not his imprimatur all over it; his cabal stands to gain the most by this mess.

(*Yes, I'm aware the source is controversial -- but sometimes truth comes from weird places.)

Dem from Ct - yes, Iraq must be dealt with, but it is my view that Iraq was the first step in Cheney's plan to create an American- dominated region in the Middle East from Iraq to the Stans - remember "Real men want to go to Tehran!" Control of the Middle East and Caspian oil and gas would be essential to Cheney's goal of hemming in Russia and confronting China with an energy vise.

EW - I see that the Taliban has announced that they have renounced their deal with Musharraf to behave in the Pakistani border states. Stephen Hadley was just on This Week and said that this was a matter of concern, but Steph did not press him on it - could this be the trigger?

Rayne

If Pakistan's current governmetn goes under, the Taliban and Al Qaeda sympathizers have a good shot at taking over. It would give them a seaport and another major airport. Containers of opium, containers of who-knows-what, immigration run by people they control. That's ust off the top of my head.

I was thinking about Pakistan last night: JoeL and the administration are pushing hard at Iran because Iran is trying to build nukes (I would be doing that too, if I were in their position) and ignoring Pakistan, which has nukes and a shaky government, next door to India, which has nukes and a bad relationship with Pakistan. It's a recipe for making-it-worse really, really fast.

Well I have wondered for a long time why no one seemed to care that afghanistan was being lost. I assumed it was because Bin laden was no longer there, but this makes more sense.

Cheney organized a trade-off in Pakistan. If Musharraf would make Baluchistan (the province that borders on Iran) safe for American bases and special operations over that border, and he did, then the Bush administration would give him a pass on the Afghan-border provinces, and they did.

The cover story that Cheney lectured Musharraf this spring about controlling al-Qaeda/Taliban activity along the border with Afghanistan was just that -- propaganda. Cheney has never cared about al-Qaeda or Afghanistan and doesn't care now. He knows that it was always impossible for Musharraf to do more than pay lip-service to that project, and he does not care. Iran is his endgame.

I write as a distressed Canadian who can't respect generals who don't even know where the main battlefield is, and our stupid generals, who keep telling us that it is in Afghanistan, seem to me to have colluded with the Bush administration to throw away a lot of Canadian and Afghan lives as a sideshow to the main event.

I actually believe that we could be doing good in Afghanistan, but we aren't; we can't, not in this context. If Cheney gets away with his attack on Iran, yes, worse will follow -- in Pakistan, Afghanistan, maybe even Turkey.

time to revisit the warning zbig gave to the senate foreign relations committee in january. (transcript, mp3)... we seem to be doing everything wrong. i kinda expect cheney et al to be making trouble - but the dangerously irresponsible behavior of dems in congress (see h.con.r.21 and s.amdt.2073) is extremely distressing.

skdadl - do have any links to share on the Baluchistan deal? would like to know more. thanks!

There's No National Security Without A Stable Afghanistan

and

Ignore Losing In Iraq And Afghanistan And Vote Republican

Those posts are from Sept 2006. I certainly agree with emptywheel's focus. I would not have chosen the term 'distraction' to describe Iraq. Regionalization as far as focus goes certainly makes sense.

P J Evans 9:27 -- I hear you, but I think drug trade and anything else moving through Pakistan's seaports are chickenfeed to the universal fascists at work. They will use such illicit trade as they did during Iran-Contra, to fund their efforts, but the real game is disturbance of any relationships between the other major world powers and the supply of potential energy sources, to keep them suppressed and from realizing their full strength (imagine a fully developed China with nuclear weapons), and to exponentially increase the value of existing energy reserves elsewhere across the globe as fossil fuels dwindle or are threatened by instability.

selise, I admit that I am sometimes reading tea leaves on this story, as our favourite prosecutor would say, but given all the secrecy and the sentimental lies, what else can we do?

Here are a couple of links that got me thinking last fall:

Baluchistan and the Coming Iran War

Afghanistan: On the Brink

One interesting thing: a day after I wrote a modest something about Baluchistan, I got a comment from a Baluch/Baloch patriot who really wants the world to know what is happening there.

DemFromCT

In defense of my word, "distraction"--I think it fair insofar as the possible end result of our focus on Iraq is, by design, not going to result in any fewer American deaths (or Muslim deaths or anything of the sort) and it's soaking up all the energy in Congress. So long as Dems accept the frame Iraq (obsession) Iran (carte blanche) Pakistan (huh?), then we're handing away our negotiating points and pretty much acquiesing to a disastrous policy guaranteed to fail. The actual political obsession with Iraq is a teeny tiny cricket noise against the raging background of the larger, catastrophic policy.

Rayne
Whatever happens, I think we're going to be on the wrong end of it.
If we go into Iran, we lose carriers, and the rest of the world jumps on us for going in - the sympathy vote isn't going to be there this time.
If Pakistan goes, there's a war between the Islamic militants who take over, and India - both of them have nukes. I don't know how far it will escalate.
In either case, China is going to be unhappy.
They've got a large chunk of our national debt, and while I don't think they'd cut us off completely - it wouldn't help them either - they may decide that they'd rather not send us low-cost products. That hits W*l-M*rt in particular, and that's where the GOP base shops.
I hope that this is being factored in to their plans, but I sure wouldn't want to bet that they can handle the mess without making it much worse.
I don't have a great deal of faith in the Democrats in congress. I don't think they're seeing this, or most of them aren't. (Webb probably does.)

P J Evans -- oh, most def, we puny human citizen/voters around the world will draw the short straw on whatever these monsters set in motion in their global chess game. And I do believe that the concentration of manufacturing in China for the benefit of American retailers is a chit in this asymmetric warfare. The first disruption we puny people will feel is a rapid increase in the cost of any product that requires plastics or is made of plastic, since both petroleum and natural gas are used in its manufacture. W*lmart would feel the hit in pricing, attempt to pass it on to vendors first before its customers, but eventually there will be inflationary pressure on prices.

Not to mention the debt. Ugh.

emptywheel, you can't win in politics by arguing the American public is wrong on the issues or missing the point. If Iraq is an obsession (and it's the American public who have the obsession), there are good reasons for it. So, this will need to be an 'in addition to' discussion, not an 'instead of' discussion.

Let's talk region, as you suggested.

My point, Dem, is that Bush and Cheney don't give a damn that only 25% of the country supports them. So long as that's true--and the Dems in Congress don't make that costly for their counterparts across teh aisle--it doesn't matter what the American people think.

Until we assert some muscle in Congress, it doesn't matter what the polls say. And since we're abdicating any and all muscle, how are we going to make it an issue?

Until we assert some muscle in Congress, it doesn't matter what the polls say. And since we're abdicating any and all muscle, how are we going to make it an issue?

Alas, that's so. But as I posted earlier, I do expect movement in September. Too little, too late? Always.

Could one look to the civil war created by Cheney in Palestine as a good example of the administration's approach to the region. If there is a regional war between Sunni and Shia, like Hamas and Fatah, then those sects can only fight each other and are unable to launch terrorist attacks on the west or Israel. The administration's narrative for Anbar Province is similar in that they want us to believe that the Sunnis have now decided that they hate Al Qaeda in Iraq more than they hate the US military.

All of this is too clever by half and, I think, reflects the millenialist thinking of Cheney and the neocons. They are willing to overlook and risk global instability (and extreme carnage) to eliminate all Islamic states. They will (gladly) set in motion a regional war that will surely last a generation(s) and effectively depopulate large areas of the middle east.

The alternative, practicing legitimate statecraft, is viewed negatively by this administration. I can't think of an instance in the past few years where a conventionally brokered agreement or treaty was presented by our government as a (truly) positive development. In there minds, foreign policy is conflict, or as Rice would say, "birth pangs." It isn't that they aren't aware of an alternative, they just use the language of diplomacy to conceal their true aims.

The American people would like our government to resolve conflicts militarily or diplomatically, finally, to achieve peace or stability in other parts of the globe. This government

Frankly, the internal debates on Iraq are even becoming a distraction. We've got to start solving Afghanistan and Pakistan--or else Iraq won't matter, whether we're there or gone.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt
. . . . . . (On the side of a hill in the deep forest green)
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
. . . . . . (Tracing a sparrow on snow-crested ground)
Without no seam nor needlework
. . . . . . (Blankets and bedclothes a child of the mountain)
Then she'll be a true love of mine
. . . . . . (Sleeps unaware of the clarion call)

Tell her to find me an acre of land
. . . . . . (On the side of a hill, a sprinkling of leaves)
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
. . . . . . (Washes the ground with silvery tears)
Between the salt water and the sea strand
. . . . . . (A soldier cleans and polishes a gun)
Then she'll be a true love of mine

Tell her to reap it in a sickle of leather
. . . . . . (War bellows, blazing in scarlet battalions)
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
. . . . . . (Generals order their soldiers to kill)
And to gather it all in a bunch of heather
. . . . . . (And to fight for a cause they've long ago forgotten)
Then she'll be a true love of mine

Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

-- Simon & Garfunkel's version of an English folk song about overwhelmingly impossible tasks, alternating with a sorrowful Greek chorus lamenting a pointless war.

where cheney is concerned and involved

"pure stupidity"

explains by far the largest proportion of variance.

what has he been involved in in the last six years that was successful?

the man is Chaos walking about the earth.

it just not a matter of "until we assert some muscle in congress".

bush and co respond to NOTHING except superior power, ever.

thank you for the links, skdadl

with respect to iraq and the middle east, it is possible to get a bit too geopolitical in the old fashioned sense - our interest, "their" interests, our resource needs, "their" resource needs, etc.

were i president,

i would leave iraq immediately - like today.

lingering only so long as necessary to bring out military machines and munitions, american personnel, and all Iraqis who need safe conduct out.

after that?

let the Iraqis fight it out.

develop a u.n. or nato diplomatic and military presence with strong regional representation with the goal of stabilizing the region.

iraq is simply not going to be stable for awhile - just as the u.s. was not stable from 1855 - 1875.


it seems to me the american gov't suffers from the assumption that we MUST be in charge in the middle east.

how about entrusting others with that job for a while. it's not as if we have any great record there.

who says the u.s. is the best choice to referee in the middle east?

i certainly don't.

iran, turkey, israel, egypt, pakistan (and thereby, india) need to be included prominently.


as for oil and "geopolitical" thinking,

yes, we need oil.

but then oil producers need markets and the u.s. is the biggest market.

sure china (and india) need oil, but their powerful international presences over time depend on the assumption they will stay internally stable over time. and i doubt that will happen.

china is just a food shortage, a stock market collapse, or an inflationary spiral away from chaos.

choas that will include political reorganization requiring years to complete.

for me, the fundamentals of iraq and the middle east are:

we need to get out of iraq now.

we need to encourage, and support with money, u.n. and regional power solutions.

and we need to get over the notion that, despite our record there from 1948 on, somehow the middle east can't get along without persistent expressions of american diplomatic and military power.

i'd be willing to make the bet that the middle east might stabilize itself with help from regional and u.n. organizations,

and with the united states taking a back seat.

that will leave the u.s. with the time, the focus, and the resources (think $500 billion - the amount spent in iraq in 4 years)

to begin a rapid scientific and engineering movement toward extreme energy conservation and away from fossil fuels usage.

five years of intense pressure on auto manufactures and electrical power plants in the u.s. might yield remarkable reductions in carbonated energy consumption.

and a major new sector of the american economy would been born.


I wonder how long it will be be before the Mainstream Republicans start telling us that Tillman was a left-wing liberal who undermined the war on terror, deserved to be shot, and was an overrated and lousy football player.

I mean, that basically the same game plan they used for Valerie Wilson, telling us that Wilson was a left wing liberal who undermined the President's policies, deserved to be outed, and was an overrated and lousy spy anyway.

After all, if it worked for a CIA NOC, it should work for a football player.

Right?

anybody who wants to understand george's fuckup should study the war between Prussia-Austria and Sweden over the provinces of Holstein and Schleswig

basically, Otto Bismarck fooled Austria into joining Prussia to invade Holstein and Schleswig, two Swedish provinces that were located north of Prussia

since the provinces were next to Prussia, Prussia could annex the provinces

Austria couldn't annex the provinces, and was actually truing to prevent Prussia from annexing them

so why did Austria join Prussia in the invasion ???

cuz the leader of Austria was almost as stupid as george bush

Austria was tricked by a trecherous ally

what's george bush's excuse ???

Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and perhaps even Iran and Saudi Arabia are pretty much like bungie/pungie/pongee (sp) sticks from the Viet Nam era. The more you are there and simply walk around the more you are harmed and there's nothing ever to be gained.

Our problem is akin to the War on Drugs. It's a phony, but so long as we have leaders who enforce these addictions on our nation, then we have to fight like the dickins to free ourselves -- but it's hopeless.

The War on Drugs is best won by simply declaring it over, legalizing marijuana for anyone 18 or older and then treating anyone addicted to harsh stuff.

The War on Oil Dependence is best won by retreating to home and trying to get away from Big Oil as quickly as possible. That means breaking the hold America's Big Oil has on our presidential politics and on our automobile industry (we need electric or at least renewable bio-fuel hybrid cars!) as well as trying to keep oil producing countries from destroying our economy.

The War on Terror is probably just a sideshow to the War on Oil Dependence and as such is an expensive diversion. If there is a real terrorist enemy we should get some better proof more Americans can agree on and we should actually go after them, rather than putzing around in Iraq pretending we're fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq.

If there are <= 1500 AQiI, then why haven't we wiped 'em out long ago?

If ObL is tied to a dialysis machine, then why haven't we captured or killed him yet?

If 9/11 was obviously AQ, then why are there so many untidy loose ends?

Let's get past the lies and charade and solve the real problems.

Incidentally, last week Xymphora pointed to this interview in Dawn from November 2001, in which Osama claims to actually have a nuke, bought from a Russian scientist. The journalist says that he was told by the Pakistanis not to report the fact because the US might think that OBL got the weapon from Pakistan.

Freepatriot, the Prussian war you cite was not with Sweden, it was with Denmark. Twas in two parts, 1862 and 64. The dutchies of Holstein and Schleswig belonged to the Danish Royal House, and after Denmark became a Constitutional Monarchy in 1848 they remained under Royal Control. The cause of the war is generally understood as Bismark's interest in building the Keil Canal -- with the best location being on Danish Royal lands. Prussia got both dutchies after defeating Denmark in 1864, but after Versailles, Denmark was authorized to hold a plebsite, and a little less than half of Schleswig was returned to Denmark. After World War II, Churchill offered the Danes a slightly larger slice, (wonderful cartoon with John Bull, as butcher, holding up Jutland, and asking little mother Denmark, How Much? as a butcher might ask about a side of meat.) Anyhow, Denmark said no thanks, they didn't want any more Germans than they already had living amongst them.

I think Austria's primary motivation for joining the war had to do with the fact that Denmark had become a Constitutional Monarchy, with an elected parliment, constitution, political parties and all that -- and both Bismark and the Hapsburg's were holding on for dear life to Divine Right notions, as Italy was in the process to nationalizing Papal Lands and all that. Bismark wanted his canal for military reasons, Denmark owned the best site for a North Sea - Baltic Canal, thus the practical could be combined with the ideological so as to bring in Austria.

But the Danes also blame their Politicians of the time -- many believe Denmark should have proposed a jointly owned company to dig and operate the Canal (diplomacy in effect). This remains a hot topic in Denmark -- it is rather like our own civil war in many ways. Since I had the experience of being an exchange student once upon a time in DK -- I got the full treatment. Learning Danish had a lot to do with appreciating the Battle of Double Mill -- much as if one taught American English by teaching Picketts Charge at Gettysburg.

By the way, the one great innovation at the Battle of Double Mill was the invention of the wheeled litter to remove the wounded from the battlefield. You can see the same design in slightly more advanced form on the news these days when you see our wounded taken off the medivac helicopters and wheeled into the hospital in Iraq. It was an application of what became the early bicycle tire system. Double Mill is an early 18th century experiment with double bladed windmills -- perhaps ten KM from that site is the little school where in 1972 some Danish Hojskole Students first experimented with modern materials and aerodynamic knowledge to invent the modern Wind Turbine. The Danish Government appreciated the effort, sent real engineers and development money, and thus was born the first modern wind farm.

sara

i swear,

there is nothing you write that i don't find myself reading with interest

and, having read,

that i don't come away from better informed.

what a treasure of knowledge and insight.

This is a serious business, so maybe I relaxed too much this weekend.

As I have read this thread, and a few before, I keep seeing emptywheel's constant search for VP Cheney's finger prints on dastardly plots as similar to Sherlock Holmes constant belief in and search for the Evil Dr Moriarty.

And then DemFromCT comes up with a very sage like knowing presence like Kwai Chang (David Carradine) in the new Yellow Book TV spots.

When you can remove the pebble from my hand, Grasshopper Jodi, you may leave the temple.

I'm more and more convinced this is Dick Cheney's design. ... What other logic is there--besides pure stupidity--for ignoring nuclear-armed and increasingly extremist Pakistan--while ratcheting up war against Iran?

Marcy, you are Dick Cheney waaay too much credit -- pure stupidity, fueled by blind lust, is closer to the truth.

Dick Cheney is a lusty guy -- Power Lust, Oil Lust, and Blood Lust in service of the others. Dick Cheney sees himself as the Hot Stud of the GOP Imperial Presidency, and his lust for power is the V*g*ra that blinds him to anything that doesn't serve his lust.

Dick Cheney's lust for power makes facts irrelevant -- if facts or persons don't serve his interests, they are irrelevant trifles to be swept aside. If facts or persons impede his goals, they are enemies to be crushed. If anything serves his interests, it is elevated to the highest exalted status -- until it is no longer useful.

Shorter (Shooter) version -- Dick Cheney doesn't see the forest of reality, because he doesn't see anything beyond his power lust woody.

From the election in 2000
1. All support for peace initiatives between Israel and Palestinians ceased.
2. Secret energy talks are held - virtually no public records.
3. My Pet Goat is read and then a really long plane ride rounds out the day.
4. The kids enlist.
5. Just this close to Osama bin Laden and the troops are pulled back.
6. Inspectors pulled out of Iraq and CIA operation destroyed.
7. Sixteen words.
8. Colin betrays the world.
9. Troops used to start civil war in Iraq
10. Israel is encouraged to bomb evildoers in Lebanon.
11. Afghanistan and Pakistan are left to fester.
12. Lieberman challenges Iran to a duel.

Intentional destabilization
Too simple?

Boston1775 -- not at all. Took nearly a trillion dollars and 6-plus years to do all that.

But a volatile environment is one in which the most profits can be made. I still suffer guilt pangs for buying a market index fund the day after Shock-and-Awe began, selling it a couple years later at a substantial profit, based on that very premise. And if I did it. you can bet your keister that's EXACTLY what DeadEye and all his peeps did both straight up and in a more convoluted fashion.

What they don't ken or appear to ignore is that at some point, the market crashes. Will they be out in time after precipitating the fall? Will they be converted to other currencies (in the form of gold, cash, energy) that will retain value after the fall? We'll see.

thanks for the correction Sara

Danes, Swedes, what's the difference (wink)

I was more interested in the actions in Austrian politics that led to Austria joining the Prussians

I agree that protecting "the Divine Rights of the King" was the underlying reason, bit the method used to protect the right was totally disasterous

and most Austrians knew they were being played as it happened

Rayne, the questions are: how close are we to our market not being able to sustain the drain?
can we wind this mess down, pay our bills and begin to reinvest in our own country?

http://spookinthemachine.blogspot.com/2007/07/hell-why-stop-at-three-wars-go-for.html

Today Marcy T. Wheeler ( EmptyWheel ) has posted a lovely blog entry at The Next Hurrah that suggests the destabilization of Pakistan has been Dick Cheney's endgame from day one. It is a fascinating theory and may hold much truth.

But old warhorse that I am, I immediately realized this is not so simple. With all respect to Marcy, there are global ramifications here big time, for two reasons. One, Pakistan is a nuclear power with both warheads and delivery systems. Two, Pakistan sits right in the middle of the region between China and India, along with Tibet. Those of us who pay attention to world affairs realize how touchy China is about Tibet ( not as bad as they are about Taiwan, but touchy ). I suspect they won't be pleased to have a nuclear state fall into the hands of terrorists on their border. And to say India will go ballistic is a frighteningly accurate metaphor, because they have ballistic missiles that can reach all major urban areas of Pakistan in minutes. And the Russians recently sold them some very good anti-short range missile technology that might help them deal with a retaliatory launch or two.

And Russia is not going to tolerate Pakistan becoming controlled by militant islamic extremists either. They are depending on the oil revenue from the Caspian Sea area for much of their planned revitalization in the next decade; they aren't about to risk it.

So if Pakistan goes under, expect a Coalition of The Scared Shitless to form real fast. India will be the lead member, followed by Russia and China. The US and Europe can essentially become onlookers while this happens, if they choose.

And then it hit me.

What if Dick Cheney and his allies' strategy is based on a truly breathtaking ( and seriously demented ) grand vision? What vision? The complete destruction of the Islamic Middle East and the occupation of the Caspian Sea Basin by US and NATO forces.

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