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Afghanistan: A Real War Cannot Just Be Ended. It Must Be Won Or Lost

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The United States has apparently been at war in Afghanistan for over a decade, the longest conflict in US history, and has decided in its munificence that enough is enough. It’s ending the war.

Not so fast.

First of all, the Taliban – the enemy in this conflict – have not been party to the ending of this war. There has been and will be no peace treaty. The Taliban have not surrendered, unconditionally or otherwise. As far as they are concerned, the US is withdrawing its forces, some might even say retreating. We would vehemently deny this, but we’re giving ground, freely, because we don’t think the costs anymore outweigh the benefits.

But war has its own logic, which is not the same as Obama’s twisted version that suggests that its time for the Afghans to stand up and show us what they can do. Armies are cultural phenomena. You can’t just create a good one. We tried to train a winning army in Vietnam and failed. It will fail again. Training the locals is almost always a smoke screen for our strategic unwillingness to do what it takes to win.

If a war is worth fighting for strategic reasons for over a decade, why would it be strategically wise to then simply withdraw, unless the situation on the ground makes that withdrawal strategically valid.

It has not.

We’re leaving this “war” in the hands of Afghan Forces. We did the same in Cambodia, relying on South Vietnamese troops to take Phnom Penh. They were unceremoniously repulsed, desperately hanging onto Huey Skids to escape being torn apart by Montagnards and VC. The same will happen again. Untried and untested, except under the strict tutelage of US forces, the Afghans will quite simply crumble. Easy pickings against hardened insurgents, who have shown that they can easily strike at the heart of Kabul with ease.

And then where will we be? Over the next decade, the Taliban will regain ground, and perhaps choke off what’s left of the Afghan government. And when the Afghan Army has its backs to the wall, will we go back in to bail it out?


So much for the President’s vaunted logic, so majestic so often, so lacking when it comes to matters of warfare.

Written by coolrebel

May 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Libya – Where Do We Go From Here?

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About 200km east of the Egypt-Libya border begins the Qattara Depression, a vast low-lying stretch of desert banked by steep cliffs to the North. It’s essentially an impassable, virtually uninhabited world of soft, sinking sand, brittle salt-lakes, and sucking swamps. During WW2 it was regarded as a no-mans land through which any heavy vehicle would disappear into the abyss. Essentially once you were in you’d be lucky to get out.

It’s a useful metaphor for NATO’s involvement in Libya. Four months after our glorious entry in that nasty little desert dogfight, it’s starting to look like we wandered into a military and diplomatic equivalent of the Qattara Depression. By now, it’s beginning to become painfully clear that unless the “Rebels” get real lucky, we’re looking at a massive stalemate. Reports of successful bombing runs by NATO jets have reduced to a trickle. Gaddafi has almost completely adapted to not having air-superiority. Indeed his shift to non-uniformed forces operating out of pick-ups and covered Katusha trucks pretty much leaves NATO air support blind to who is and who isn’t a bad guy. NATO frequently get it wrong and their propaganda war takes a big hit every time.

It helps Gaddafi that the Rebels are essentially militarily useless. They’re poorly equipped, have little or no training, little or no command cohesion, break quickly under fire, and do minimal damage. And each time they fail to make any real headway they shore up the Gaddafi regime, which seems to be showing remarkable longevity under assault, its morale seemingly very high. To make matters worse, NATO has shown little or no interest in sending in advisors to help build up the rebels. Turning around that rabble would be near impossible, and Europe, not exactly settled just now, would start whining – rightly – about mission creep.

NATO’s last ditch effort was to wish the problem away with cash. By recognizing the rebels ‘transitional council’ and handing them access to a big chunk of Gaddafi’s stash they’re basically hoping that the Libyans will organize, energize, and use the money to oust Gaddafi. History tells us that when a large group of disorganized, fragmented guys in a never democratic desert country get a boat-load of money, things don’t end well.

Which leaves NATO in an awkward spot. Do they halt airstrikes and negotiate with Gaddafi? That may be out of the question. Not only would they be handing him a huge victory, but the ICC indictment hanging over the Colonel would be a good enough reason to tell NATO to sit and stew.

And just to make matters a little worse, Syria’s body count seems to rising even higher than Libya’s, and all we’re doing there is messing around with a few offshore bank accounts.

Finally, Italy has a debt crisis brewing, and the desperation to avoid a refugee crisis would have been better served by keeping Gaddafi in the hot-seat rather than bombing the bejesus out of his compound every night.

It all boils down to a very simple thought. Before you let the neo-con blood rush to your head, have a think about the consequences. Another six months of this and we’re going to own a problem that we really want nothing to do with.

Is this a mess or what?

Written by coolrebel

July 18, 2011 at 5:51 am

Libya – Obama’s Warped Concept of War Powers

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There’s a nice news nugget rolling around the web right now to the effect that the President “overruled” two White House Constitutional wonks on what constitutes hostilities involving the United States that require the approval of Congress. The case in question was, of course, Libya, and the specifics were whether the turning of Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli into a parking lot constituted ‘hostilities’.

From Qaddafi’s point of view, there’s no doubt that having his outhouses flattened and army tanks turned into burning hulks clearly constitutes ‘hostilities’. But war these days can be fought from a distance. It doesn’t have to be a two-way street anymore. Apart from the accidental loss of an F-15 during the early stages of the air strikes, we have suffered no battle casualties, and nor, as far as we know, have our allies. We have no boots on the ground, and will not be committing combat troops, which means we’re relying on air-power alone to sink the Libyan dictator. All that makes Obama’s and risible ‘constitutional’ argument somewhat defensible.

The second key factor is the legal foundation of the assault on Qaddafi. It’s a UN humanitarian mission, and definitely not an Article 7 assualt. The reason, of course, that it’s a “humanitarian” mission to bomb the daylights out of Qaddafi’s forces is because that was the only way to get the Chinese and Russian’s to abstain and allow the mission to move forward. The Russians and Chinese got played (which is rare for them). At the time, they had no idea of the extent of the mission, but they could hardly have been seen voting down a humanitarian mission. In other words, “humanitarian” is the cover that enabled the mission to have begun at all. If you remember, the origin of the ‘humanitarian’ mission was to avert a massacre of Benghazi rebels by Qaddafi’s forces massing outside the city. That massacre was predicted, but hadn’t taken place. An interesting approach to humanitarianism is born. From now on we can put the world’s bad guys on notice that if the UN conveniently ‘predicts’ a humanitarian catastrophe it can theoretically go to war to stop it. That would seem to extend the UN’s powers exponentially.

Thirdly, there’s the added cover of the assault being a NATO led mission. Since its creation just after World War Two, NATO has always been a fig leaf that enabled America to bypass the appearance of facing the Soviet Union alone. But the truth is that the power and capabilities of all our allies in NATO combined didn’t come close to that of the United States. NATO without America was not feasible, then, and it’s not feasible and now. In the case of the Libyan assault, the enemy is so weak that once the US had dispatched its air defenses, the feeble and out-dated Air Forces of our allies were more than adequate to the task of pounding the Libyan Army and Qaddafi’s headquarters.

Put all these factors together, and Obama can quite easily make a ‘de facto’ case that the Libyan mission doesn’t constitute hostilities under the War Powers Act. But make no mistake, despite all the talk of the learned constitutional scholar overruling his legal pups in the Oval Office, this debate has zero to do with the constitutional powers of the President, and everything to do with politics. The West wants to expunge its renewed relationship with Qaddafi, including the embarrassing trade agreement that the US recently forged with him.

But there’s a host of problems. What happens if we’re still slugging it out with Qaddafi a year from now, as we approach the Presidential Election? The argument will hold an awful lot less water, especially as the stalemate narrative will have solidified beyond any doubt. Does the US withdraw its forces? Does John Boehner try again to push through the War Powers argument? Certainly, on the ground, it seems clear that as of now, the Rebel forces do not have – without mass army defections – enough firepower, manpower, or operational ability to drive into and hold the capital Tripoli. The allied effort is driven by the thesis that Middle East dictators have total control until the day it rapidly falls apart. This may yet stand up, but the deeply tribal basis of Libyan culture and political life would tend to work against it. However, in the long term, Qaddafi will fall. The question is only whether NATO will have to call off the dogs for other domestic reasons.

More likely is another set of issues. What happens when Qaddafi falls, and despite all the moderate talk of the “Transitional Council” the bloodletting by anti-Qaddafi tribes begins? What happens when the cobbled-together “democracy” they try to create collapses? What happens when Islamists try to gain control? What happens if the refugee crisis Europe is hoping to avert – doesn’t get averted. What if we just get a different set of refugees?

In short, for all the President’s attempt to turn this into a professorial legal issue. It isn’t. It’s nasty, dirty, political and practical.

Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn rule could yet apply. We’ll own the Libya we inherit.

Written by coolrebel

June 18, 2011 at 2:06 am

Winner Syria. Loser Libya.

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It’s a sure bet that Colonel Gaddafi or Qaddafi or however he spells his name isn’t the envious type. He’s too busy right now lobbing shells onto his own people for that. But if he were a jealous kind of guy, you can bet your bootstraps that he’d be full of schadenfreude for President Assad of Syria.

I mean, see it from the Colonel’s rather warped POV. There he was successfully compromising and cajoling the West into a rapprochement (including a deal with the US and handshake with Tony Blair) when suddenly Tunisia goes up in smoke, Egypt follows, and then the restive tribes around Benghazi decide to go all freedom fighter on his ass. So he does what any self-respecting dictator would do. It says it right there in the manual. Page 2. If there’s any organized dissent of any kind, crush it with obvious and public brutality. All he did was follow the book to the letter and suddenly the Brits and Frogs are down on him with everything they’ve got (which granted isn’t that much). With President Obama as a cheerleader and even the Russkis and Chinese sort of on board, everyone wants the Colonel gone, and to prove it they bomb the crap out of his compound nightly, for humanitarian purposes, of course.

One can only guess what’s going through old Muammar’s mind as he lounges about in his bunker with his Amazonian bodyguards, the soft pounding of NATO missiles thunking into his compound outhouses a hundred feet above his head.  But I’m guessing that the one word that is never uttered within earshot of the old man is “Assad”.  The very word probably brings Muammar out in hives. After all, Assad’s pretty much doing the same stuff in Syria as Gaddafi (insert your own spelling as required) is doing in Libya, and nobody is doing anything to stop the Syrian dude. Sure, the West does an awful lot of talking and whining and trots out ye olde sanctions (as if these guys didn’t prepare for that possibility), but when it comes to, well, action, they’re doing bupkis to stop Assad’s assault on his own towns and cities.

Libya has oil, holds the threat of a massive refugee crisis when the EU least needs it, and is run by a pariah of a dictator (it’s conveniently forgotten that the US and Europe were trying to bring him back into the fold until very recently). It’s also of limited strategic value (at least in the short term), so bombing the bejesus out of the weird bad guy with the Starsky and Hutch sunglasses is really a no brainer.  Of course, the three month air campaign is doing plenty of superficial damage but not changing the ground game in the slightest.  Gaddafi’s ground forces have been weakened but they’re still far stronger than anything the disorganized rebels can field, and consequently the chances of a successful rebel assault on Tripoli are, at this point, nil. It’s a likely stalemate, the only proviso on which is whether Gaddafi’s bankroll is dwindling too fast to maintain loyalty from his entourage and the contracts of his mercenaries. Thereisnoplan’s guess is that the Colonel is pretty confident he can wait out NATO, which he knows will never commit the ground forces needed to change the strategic balance. He has the added advantage of no golden ladder for him and his peeps. He has nowhere to go except to the Hague or to hell, so he might as well stay and fight it out to the death. And just as importantly, you can be sure that even if his henchmen ‘defect’, they’ll have a hard time leaving too – which is probably tantamount to a death sentence when the Benghazi boys roll into Tripoli. In the Arab world, having no better way to go than sticking with the evil dictator guy often translates to undying brotherly love.

Syria, on the other hand is a poor as muck country with no oil, and no refugee problem either, but it does have strong ties with Iran and Hizbollah. The West is probably making the correct realpolitik calculation that is Assad falls, the Sunni majority may take over after a nasty civil war and weaken ties with both Tehran and Nasrallah. And even if they don’t, there will be a total fracturing of the country, which will certainly complicate Hizbollah’s pipeline from Iran. But if the West – and with the UK and France committed to Libya – that means the US, were to intervene militarily in Syria, that would raise the tension in the region to breaking point, and probably boost the Assad regime’s chances of long term survival. An attack on Syria would also unsettle the intensely fragile peace in Iraq. In short, strategically and diplomatically getting medieval on Assad is probably a really bad idea. He knows it too.

Of course, the lofty humanitarian rhetoric that the West delivers on Libya and Syria almost daily runs contrary to their calculated and calibrated response to each crisis. The hypocrisy is utterly palpable, yet hardly noticed. One wonders whether there’s a downside to it. It’s hard to see the wily, slippery Assad overstepping the mark in his assaults on the Syrian people to the point that the West has no choice but to actually do something concrete. Indeed the biggest threat to the West’s wholly inconsistent stance might be time. If this keeps on going like it is, the situation starts to get obvious and people might start talking. But is that talk going to impinge on the campaign of a President whose re-election depends entirely on the US economy?  Not a chance. Nobody really cares that much. After all, the mess is someone else’s and it’s far, far away.

So the rhetoric of freedom will continue to soar in London and Washington while the bombs continue to fall on Libya, while other dictators from Damascus to Riyadh continue to linger in the their gilded cages.

Summer has arrived.  So much for the Arab Spring.

Written by coolrebel

June 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Obama Starts 2012 Campaign With a Bang

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I am looking good

Having essentially capitulated to the GOP / Corporate agenda on health care, financial reform and the nation’s debt “crisis”, Obama is now ‘rising above’ the fray with a savvy opening salvo in the 2012 campaign. It was a good ‘un too. Assassinating Bin Laden has bumped him up a dozen approval points in 48 hours, and put any GOP contenders on the defensive.  They can’t accuse him of being a wuss anymore.

Remove your weakness. That is what good politics is all about.

If only Obama had used more (now demonstrably popular) muscularity to do something useful when he had control of both Houses of Congress, like insist on a public option, cripple the Wall Street succubus when it was down, or raise taxes on the wealthy when he had the chance. Because that would have been ‘change’.  Sadly, instead he prefered to do things the old fashioned, unreconstructed, neo-conservative way, with a big, fat, meaningless statement that makes him look like the tough guy that everyone thinks he isn’t. Putting a bullet in the bad guy’s head is nothing if it’s not Bushlike business as usual.  Wrapping himself in the flag with a completely gratuitous visit to Ground Zero is pure Bush. It’s “Mission Accomplished” all over again, with the slight, but all important difference, that the mission – a far simpler mission – actually was accomplished.

Karl Rove must be proud. This comes right from his playbook.

Maybe Obama plans to use his new-found strength to actually be a Democrat, but not many expect it. He’s chosen his presidential path, and it’s all about unity and ‘coming together’ and bipartisanship. It always escapes Thereisnoplan how one can ‘come together’ and ‘find common ground’ with a pack of unhinged hyenas like today’s GOP, but that’s another story.

Killing Bin Laden was a ‘victory’ of little strategic significance, and although making it public sure had multo propaganda value at home, in security terms doing so was in many ways rash. As targeted assassinations go it was an anomaly. Most of them (usually conducted by Israel) are not broadcast by the perpetrators, who deny all knowledge of their handiwork. That could and should have been the case here.  And because of the sensitivity of where Osama was holed up, it would have stayed that way. The Pakistanis would have been hugely grateful to the US for not embarrassing their military and intelligence services. And on their side the US would have been able to extract far more from the Pakistanis, merely by threatening to make the truth of the circumstances of the attack known if Islamabad didn’t tow the line. In that respect we could have advanced our security cause in this most sensitive of regions far more by keeping the killing quiet. Not only that, but we would have had a window to act on the information we captured in the compound before Al Qaeda operatives were aware USL was dead and went to ground. Finally, we could even have created a shadow Bin Laden, inserting our own missives to operatives, helping us sow further confusion and distrust.

Not broadcasting the attack would also have had other major benefits. The public announcement of the attack is almost certain to fire up far more lone wolves that otherwise both Stateside and in Europe, who could easily channel intact Al Qaeda franchises to develop home grown plots like the failed attack in Times Square last year. Let’s hope that the stash of hard drives in Bin Laden’s study will cut off that possibility, but it’s unlikely they can close every avenue when most don’t even exist yet. And finally, Obama could have announced the killing of Bin Laden when it was more politically useful, ie, closer to the next presidential election – justifying keeping it secret because it protected the US people, and advanced our national security agenda. He would also have looked sober, selfless, and effective for doing so.

But short term political considerations came first. Keeping the killing quiet would have denied Obama his eleven point bump.

The National Security Council no doubt kept their mouth shut when Obama announced his ‘victory’ in his dramatic late night announcement. I’m sure more than a few of their number knew that it was politically motivated move dressed up as a transparent public duty that would open us to more terror,  just so the boss could look good in time for the new campaign season. But to suggest POTUS keep the whole thing under wraps to protect Americans would have implied that he was endangering them for his own political ends. Clearly, Obama was aware that the political gains of the public announcement could be jeopardized by releasing the photos of a dead Bin Laden post head-shot.  Even he knew the politics of his shoot first strategy had limits.

Whatever the new terror landscape looks like, The President has given himself a significant – if not decisive – leg-up on victory next November.  Or to put it another way, the economic ‘recovery myth’ can now be a little less robust and provable to still insure him victory.  Thereisnoplan’s obvious cynicism is only tempered the fact that despite his being a spineless, ideologically suspect lackey of Wall Street, we still need the guy to win. Because without his at least sensible veto pen in the Oval Office, and with GOP control of both houses of Congress likely, the Republican know-nothing knuckledraggers would without any resistance dismantle the American Social Contract beyond redemption, leaving our nation permanently hobbled and on its irredeemable path to private luxury-public squalor third world status.

The truth, though, is that the cupcakes the GOP were looking at to topple Barack, (perhaps with the exception of baggage-laden Gingrich) never really did stand much of a chance of taking the White House in ’12, unless Mr. No Mistakes made one. And if there’s one thing he doesn’t do it’s that.  Sure Obama rolled the dice a little on being sure Osama was at home when the SEALS came a-calling, but although the uber-terrorist might have been catching a flick the multiplex down the road or something, it was a pretty sure thing he was cooped up at home in the West Point meets Beverly Hills of Pakistan as he had been for the last five years.

So the political gambit played out. Osama bin Laden’s death could breathe new life into a dying organization that few economically hobbled Americans were really thinking about at all. In the face of the “Arab Spring”,  Al Qaeda was looking a little long in the tooth, and needed a shot in the arm. The President duly delivered it with a kill-shot to the head, whipping us up into a frenzy, just like the previous occupant of his office had done so cynically and so frequently.

Finally, Obama’s reversion to being more of the same reaches its logical conclusion.

Written by coolrebel

May 4, 2011 at 2:24 am

Libya – A Quick Military and Geopolitical Overview

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Crazy But Not Stupid.

Libya, a nation in name only, is in the early stages of a tribally driven and brutal civil war.  But for all the comparisons between Colonel Gaddafi and the other ranter du jour, Charlie Sheen, there is very little that’s deranged about the Colonel. Indeed, he’s probably been prepared for the eventuality that Benghazi would fall for longer than we imagine.

Gaddafi kept the army small and disorganized for precisely the reason we see now. The rebels are too poorly trained and lack the cohesion to beat Gaddafi’s family and tribal led elite units and African mercenaries in a head-on clash. They’re small but far better trained and equipped than the rebels will ever be. Gaddafi’s men also have their backs to the wall. If Tripoli falls, they are clearly dead. Which is why he’s counterattacking to head off the possibility that the urban mob in the capital will turn on him and end the game through the back door.

The battle will most likely center around the oil terminals on the coast to the east of Tripoli, as is already happening. And as took place during 1940 and 1941, the battleground will be the coast road, although neither side has anything like the skill and determination of the Desert Rats or Afrika Korps. But Gaddafi has to control the spigot. It’s the only way he has any hope of controlling the battle.

The problem for the Colonel is that he probably loses even if he is able to see off the rebel threat. The world has U-turned. The embarrassing rapprochement with the West engineered to secure Libya’s agreement to scrap its probably non-existent WMD threat has backfired dramatically. Even if he’s able to survive, his financial situation will become more tenuous over time, and with it his ability to pay mercenaries to help keep him in power. His only hope, without a doubt, is to control the oil terminals and keep oil prices high. If he can maintain and build his grip on the terminals, then he at least has some leverage to help him survive. But, ultimately, that requires moving through Benghazi and onto Tobruk, which seems a tall order, unless his units have some unlikely victories to the West and build up a head of steam.

What is more likely – because neither side has much military skill – is a bloody, messy, protracted war of attrition that might go on almost indefinitely. The US and NATO could of course put a stop to it fast, but there is little stomach in Brussels, Washington and the capitals of Western Europe for anything other than a token humanitarian intervention.

That might change if the Libyan crisis takes oil prices up the $120+ range over time. $4 gas has a habit of stiffening the backbone of even the most reluctant Commander-in-Chief, especially if it risks stifling a nascent and flimsy American economic recovery on which his reelection hopes may depend.

Written by coolrebel

March 4, 2011 at 10:53 am

Egypt – So Where’s the Muslim Brotherhood?

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See you around, Hos.

Before we get carried away with the birth of democracy in Egypt, let’s ask ourselves why the United States has been plying the Mubarak regime with a couple of billion dollars worth of play money for the last God knows how long. Was it because he was such a great guy doing right by his peeps? Uhh, no. Could it have been because we needed him to keep the lid on the Muslim Brotherhood, that’s been threatening to give the West indigestion for the last eighty years? Way more likely.

So where exactly have the Muslim Brotherhood been during the riots in Cairo and other cities around the Nile Delta? Not in huge evidence that’s for sure. And that’s what worries Thereisnoplan. You see, it would seem like a smart move for the Brotherhood to stay on the sidelines. After all, if they were seen as stirring the pot, the US and others might be a little less likely to be pushing the Democratic agenda for Egypt, just in case Cairo went the way of Gaza after its Democratic experiment and ended up in the hands of the Islamists. It may be a genuine secular revolt, but – and this is just a wild guess – Thereisnoplan is betting that much of President Obama’s trip to the White House basement (otherwise known as the Situation Room) was spent chatting about just that eventuality.

Egypt is a very religious nation. Even the riots calling for the ouster of Mubarak had to wait until Friday prayers were done before the stones and molotovs could be tossed about. The Muslim Brotherhood has almost certainly learned the Hezbollah and Hamas playbook well. Promise and deliver ‘social services’ to the people and they’ll support you. (The mafia is run on broadly the same basis). In short, they’re well positioning to assume the mantle of power with a convenient one shot democratic moment and promise to help Egypt out of the trough that Mubarak’s cronyism got them dug into over the decades.

Now, it’s unlikely that Mubarak will lose the loyalty of the army and police forces (which would have nothing to gain under the Muslim Brotherhood) and therefore will stay in power, albeit in a weakened position. Maybe he’ll co-opt El-Baradei as the peacemaker he needs to bridge his credibility gap with the rioters, but it’s also possible the army will turn on him and wave him goodbye. Things are moving fast in the Middle East, and many predicted the turmoil in Tunisia would be an isolated moment. It wasn’t. So anything can happen.

And if one of those anythings – say a Muslim Brotherhood takeover – took place (under the guise of democracy, of course) we’d all be in for a helluva ride in the Middle East. Here are a few possibilities.

Egypt could overturn its peace treaty with Israel. That would mean more than the end of Israeli tourism in the Sinai. And while it’s highly unlikely that the militarily decrepit Egyptian forces would ever mount a full scale attack on Israel, it could prompt the reeopening of the Rafah crossing into Gaza and the arming of Hamas with more potent and longer range missiles than the jerried Qassams they’re lobbing these days.

If Mubarak folds his tent, it’ll be interesting to see how he could follow Ben Ali of Tunisia to a gated community in Riyadh or Jeddah. The House of Saud might just regard his arrival there with the same relish as a dose of the collective clap. Instead, they’d be more likely to be opening up the gun lockers for their own security forces in readiness for the distinct possibility that they might be in for the same treatment. And lurking just under the surface in Saudi Arabia is Al Qaeda, who must be watching events in Cairo unfold with glee.

Intifada part three. Could the Palestinians in the West Bank be next? Could they be thinking that hey, if it worked for the those Tunisian and Egyptian dudes maybe it’ll work for us? That would certainly deal a body blow to what’s left of Obama’s latest go at the “Mid East Peace Process”, a game that almost always leads to profound frustration and gloom for Washington. Could a hostile Egypt on Israel’s border embolden Iran? Could Tehran engineer a wholesale pan-Muslim alliance to try and defeat Israel?

Nobody knows, but it’s fun to conjecture, unless you’re in the Situation Room of course.

Written by coolrebel

January 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

Sadr and Duvalier – Bad Guys Check in at The Democracy Motel

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Chalk it up as a bad week for democracy.

A few days ago, Muqtada Al Sadr comes back from his extended vacation in Iran to restore a little of his special brand of sanity to the Iraqi Government in Baghdad. And yesterday, Jean-Claude Duvalier, retired evil dictator who along with his evil dictator dad drove what was left of Haiti into a ditch checks into a luxury hotel to plot a return engagement in Port-au-Prince.

Neither of these characters has the words “avowed believer in democracy” on their blood-stained resumes.

So I’m guessing in both cases, Washington is none too pleased. In the case of Sadr, we’re talking about a guy who whipped up a very nasty insurgency and cost us plenty in lives and treasure. And as for Haiti, we’ve been dabbling with much failure in the place, since Duvalier was turfed out, and are powerless to do anything to stop him raiding the hotel mini-bar.

In both cases, an exhausted and disillusioned populace might well reinforce our own fears. They want these guys back, and they don’t want us. The fact that they’re wrong on a thousand different levels only points to something more fundamental. We did a terrible job of convincing the locals that we were the guys to make their world right. This despite many billions thrown into the maw of their catastrophes.

We shouldn’t have been there, but could still have done so much to effect serious change, because American power is best expressed through its economic and diplomatic influence. We could have exposed Saddam Hussein’s shell game on WMD without losing a man and brought him low by continuing to choke his regime with sanctions. And in the case of Haiti, we could have made simple changes to our trade treaties with the Haitian government to bring much wanted jobs to the Island nation, jobs that are currently outsourced to our arch-enemies in China.

But we didn’t. Not because we couldn’t but because we didn’t have the balls to extend our reach the right way, the smart way, the American way. It was America that helped coordinate the Stuxnet virus that has set the Iranian’s back a critical 3-5 years in their quest for nuclear weapons. Did we have to bomb the place? No. Did we have to spend billions? No. Did we succeed by being plain smart. Yes.

And what happens when we’re not.

Bad guys come back home and raid the mini-bar.

Let that be a lesson to those of little imagination.

Written by coolrebel

January 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm