mm491: Blast from the Past! No. 48 – War with Iran?

September 6, 2008
© Kandasamy M  | Dreamstime.com

© Kandasamy M | Dreamstime.com

Events, continue to conspire, making it unacceptably late to start a fresh project, but hey, recycling is IN, right? We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th[1]

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and, unfortunately, still all too timely, originally posted November 6, 2007, and titled “mm186: War with Iran: Inevitable?”

MUDGE’S Musings

The potential catastrophe of Iran just keeps scaling up. William Arkin, the Washington Post‘s excellent commentator on military affairs updated us Nov. 2 in his Early Warning blog:

arkinearlywarning

The presidential campaigns can’t get enough of talk about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the Bush administration’s eagerness to go to war. Thirty U.S. senators, including Hillary Clinton, sent a letter to President Bush yesterday, reminding him that “no congressional authority exists for unilateral military action in Iran.” Meanwhile, Barack Obama submitted a Senate resolution, also emphasizing that congress must explicitly authorize military action, and that, in regards to Iran, it hasn’t done that so far.

Let me say now, based on my discussions with Pentagon insiders and observers and more than 30 years following the military: We are not going to war with Iran. At least we are not going to start a war now or any time soon. At least not intentionally [emphasis MUDGE].

Can’t help but land hard on that sentence. How much tragedy has the present administration caused, both intentionally and not, over the past nearly seven years?

Read the rest of this entry »


mm487: A Truman for our times?

September 2, 2008
© Oleksii Sergieiev | Dreamstime.com

© Oleksii Sergieiev | Dreamstime.com

This one got me.

But, in recognition of Republican week, I don’t have a problem with having the infamous George III smirk atop this post.

I might have a problem with the thesis, but it’s worth exposing, since it represents a point of view that had never occurred to yr (justifiably) humble svt.

prospectuk

A Truman for our times

The received wisdom is that President Bush has been a foreign policy disaster, and that America is threatened by the rise of Asia. Both claims are wrong—Bush has successfully rolled back jihadism, and the US will benefit from Asian growth

August 2008 | 149 » Cover story » A Truman for our times | Edward Luttwak

That George W Bush’s foreign policy has been a total failure is now taken for granted by so many people that one usually hears it stated as a simple truth that need not be argued at all.

It has happened before. When President Harry S Truman said in March 1952 that he would not seek re-election, most Americans could agree on one thing: that his foreign policy had been a catastrophic failure. In Korea his indecision had invited aggression, and then his incompetence had cost the lives of some 54,000 Americans and millions of Korean civilians in just two years of fighting—on both counts more than ten times the number of casualties in Iraq. Right-wingers reviled Truman for having lost China to communism and for his dismissal of the great General Douglas MacArthur, who had wanted to win it back, with nukes if necessary. Liberals despised Truman because he was the failed shopkeeper who had usurped the patrician Franklin Roosevelt’s White House—liberals always were the snobs of US politics.

Abroad, Truman was widely hated too. The communist accusation that he had waged “bacteriological warfare” to kill Korean children and destroy Chinese crops was believed by many, and was fully endorsed by a 669-page report issued by a commission chaired by the eminent British biochemist Joseph Needham. Even more people believed that Truman was guilty of having started the cold war by trying to intimidate our brave Soviet ally, or at least that he and Stalin were equally to blame.

How did this same Harry Truman come to be universally viewed as a great president, especially for his foreign policy? It is all a question of time perspectives: the Korean war is half forgotten, while everyone now knows that Truman’s strategy of containment was successful and finally ended with the almost peaceful disintegration of the Soviet empire.

For Bush to be recognised as a great president in the Truman mould, the Iraq war too must become half forgotten. The swift removal of the murderous Saddam Hussein was followed by years of expensive violence instead of the instant democracy that had been promised. To confuse the imam-ridden Iraqis with Danes or Norwegians under German occupation, ready to return to democracy as soon as they were liberated, was not a forgivable error: before invading a country, a US president is supposed to know if it is in the middle east or Scandinavia.

Yet the costly Iraq war must also be recognised as a sideshow in the Bush global counteroffensive against Islamist militancy, just as the far more costly Korean war was a sideshow to global cold war containment. For the Bush response to 9/11 was precisely that—a global attack against the ideology of Islamic militancy. While anti-terrorist operations have been successful here and there in a patchy way, and the fate of Afghanistan remains in doubt, the far more important ideological war has ended with a spectacular global victory for President Bush.

First thing you have to do when confronting an essay such as this is to consider the source.

Edward Luttwak is one controversial bloke. Even Luttwak’s biography in Wikipedia is controversial.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm442: Blast from the Past! No. 35

July 17, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s baaaaaack! Mid-summer lethargy. Another in a string of Midwestern 90/90 days.

So begging your indulgence yet again, we bring back another gem from the dim, cool and crisp past, last October.

l-hc760-190

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and always in season, originally posted October 8, 2007, and originally titled “mm164: A Nation of Christians is Not a Christian Nation,”

MUDGE’S Musings

The creation of the United States of America was the result of two parallel streams: the twin manifest desires for freedom of economic opportunity and freedom of religion.

The Bush theocracy would like us to forget the latter. So thanks are due to Jon Meacham in today’s NYTimes, for a useful reminder.

nytimes

By JON MEACHAM

JOHN McCAIN was not on the campus of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University last year for very long — the senator, who once referred to Mr. Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance,” was there to receive an honorary degree — but he seems to have picked up some theology along with his academic hood. In an interview with Beliefnet.com last weekend, Mr. McCain repeated what is an article of faith among many American evangelicals: “the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.”

Read the rest of this entry »


mm428: Upbeat words from the Fed

July 3, 2008

dreamstime_4782164

© Ketian Chen | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

We begin this Independence Day celebration in the U.S. with a rather gloomy attitude.

We’re still losing good men and women to the misguided and mishandled Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Fuel and food prices seem to be climbing as we watch. Once my monthly bills from ExxonMobil, my gasoline purveyor of choice (the reason why this is so is worthy of a post of its own — soon!) were under $100. Now, maintaining the same or less driving, as I try to mitigate the costs of commuting with more days working from home, I’m relieved if that bill is under $200.

What we hear of the economy (job losses, inflation rate) and its thermometer (the Dow Jones Industrial Average) is disturbing. Aren’t we officially in recession?

Every one of us knows someone, or more than one, job-seeking.

And the news from the world outside our parochial boundaries is not much better. War news from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan remains grim. The president of Zimbabwe, certain that he’d lose in a fair election, murdered thousands of opposition supporters, and sent his opponent fleeing to the Netherlands embassy for shelter. Israel seems to be seriously considering a preemptory attack on Iran’s nuclear bomb facilities. Gazprom, the Russian petroleum/natural gas giant, has its sights set on becoming the largest corporation in the world before long. How can any of that be good by any measure?

Well, a couple of chieftains at the Federal Reserve Bank have decided to show us a glass half full version of the part of the story they influence, the economy. And, it makes for some attention-grabbing reading.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm379: Iraq = Lebanon. Finally it makes sense.

May 14, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Faithful reader (if s/he indeed is faithful) is probably disgusted with this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© lately, as we’ve been rehashing good old stuff rather than creating good new stuff here.

As I reflect on my lethargic approach to blogging this past week, my analysis finds that it’s partly due to the demands of the bill paying occupation, and partly my failure to extricate from the zillions of new pages popping up every day in said ‘Sphere a nugget of insight upon which to build.

Didn’t really want to write about the Democrats’ Clinton/Obama soap opera. Although, I commend to your attention Eric Zorn of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s hometown Chicago Tribune on why Sen. Clinton is the wrong running mate for Obama.

So that left me with — what? Reruns, and this during sweeps month, too! smile_nerd

Tonight though, finally, revelation. Christopher Dickey of Newsweek makes a thought connection regarding the cesspool that is our Iraq adventure that makes such great sense that one is tempted to slap oneself, saying “it’s so obvious — why didn’t I think of that?”

I didn’t. Dickey did. Read and learn.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm312: Fallon the fallen — a bitter defeat for strategic common sense

March 11, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

A good one gets away, while sleazy politics and politicians linger.

Unaccustomed as I am to following the news moment by moment, I did find myself cruising CNN.com more than usual (i.e., usual = never! exception? election night) awaiting the axe to fall on Eliot Spitzer’s governorship.

Life happened while waiting for something else: Admiral William F. Fallon, head of U.S. Central Command, resigned today.

It took an IM from my ex-naval officer son to open my eyes to the tragic implications. He directed me to a profile of Fallon that appeared last week in Esquire, which was hurriedly updated this afternoon.

esquire

The Man Between War and Peace

By Thomas P.M. Barnett | March 11, 2008, 3:10 PM

The Bush Administration wanted a war with Iran. The head of U.S. Central Command, Admiral William “Fox” Fallon, disagreed. And now, as of March 11, Fallon has resigned.

That’s the update: here’s the story. Read about an amazingly accomplished diplomat in uniform.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm293: Star Wars, finally ready for prime time

February 22, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Shooting a missile at a satellite is rocket science. And, apparently, a year late, we’ve figured it out.

washingtonpost

Spy Satellite’s Downing Shows a New U.S. Weapon Capability

By Marc Kaufman and Josh White | Washington Post Staff Writers | Friday, February 22, 2008; Page A03

The unprecedented downing of an errant spy satellite by a Navy missile makes it clear that the Pentagon has a new weapon in its arsenal — an anti-satellite missile adapted from the nation’s missile defense program.

While the dramatic intercept took place well below the altitude where most satellites orbit, defense and space experts said Wednesday night’s first-shot success strongly suggests that the military has the technology and know-how to knock out satellites at much higher orbits.

When the plans were announced a week or so ago, we were bemused.

The physics required have got to be astounding. See, the satellite is in a deteriorating orbit, so it might not be acting totally predictably.

The missile was built, of course, by the lowest bidder.

And they launched it from a missile cruiser sailing in the Pacific, which any mariner will tell you is totally falsely named.

I’m thinking the challenge was tantamount to shooting an arrow at a duck in flight several miles away, from the back of a rodeo bull.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm186: War with Iran: Inevitable?

November 6, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

The potential catastrophe of Iran just keeps scaling up. William Arkin, the Washington Post‘s excellent commentator on military affairs updated us Nov. 2 in his Early Warning blog:

arkinearlywarning

The presidential campaigns can’t get enough of talk about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the Bush administration’s eagerness to go to war. Thirty U.S. senators, including Hillary Clinton, sent a letter to President Bush yesterday, reminding him that “no congressional authority exists for unilateral military action in Iran.” Meanwhile, Barack Obama submitted a Senate resolution, also emphasizing that congress must explicitly authorize military action, and that, in regards to Iran, it hasn’t done that so far.

Let me say now, based on my discussions with Pentagon insiders and observers and more than 30 years following the military: We are not going to war with Iran. At least we are not going to start a war now or any time soon. At least not intentionally [emphasis MUDGE].

Can’t help but land hard on that sentence. How much tragedy has the present administration caused, both intentionally and not, over the past nearly seven years?

Way too much, and one can’t help believing that for all of the hidden agendas, the sweetheart procurement deals on a $trillion scale, and the subversion of the workings of government to religious extremism (we’re still talking the U.S. here, folks, we haven’t started in on Iran!), much of the ongoing catastrophe has been the result of inattention and a view of the geopolitical world seemingly so narrow as to be detectable only with an electron microscope.

So, Iran. Maker’s of world class mischief in Syria and Lebanon, interfering almost overtly in Iraq, chief exporter of Islamofascism and terrorism to the western world, and working hard to launch a nuke into Tel Aviv.

It’s symmetry: Now we’re talking about subversion of the Iranian government to religious extremism, a process that the U.S. made inevitable during nearly 30 years of lavish support of the corrupt Shah they illegally put in place. The U.S. has many decades of petrodiplomacy to answer for.

Arkin’s take on the election rhetoric is that the candidates’ words and deeds on the subject of Iran are only making Iran more nervous about U.S. intentions, and that can’t help anything.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Keep It Down – Early Warning

Mr. Arkin, everyone is supposed to quiet down so that we don’t provoke Iran into doing sooner what they seem to have every intention of doing eventually?

Everyone is supposed to quiet down so that the cooler military heads (compared to the raving maniacs of the administration) can remain coolly overwhelmed by the two official wars that the administration has tasked them with?

It’s a great idea but I just don’t see the candidates of either party letting such a juicy rhetorical target go by, with 440 days of 24-hour campaigning still to be filled.

It’s a great idea, but I just don’t know that Iran will wait for a new, somewhat more diplomatic and worldly U.S. administration.

And I have to reluctantly venture the fear that I don’t know whether Israel can afford to wait.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm164: A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation

October 8, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

The creation of the United States of America was the result of two parallel streams: the twin manifest desires for freedom of economic opportunity and freedom of religion.

The Bush theocracy would like us to forget the latter. So thanks are due to Jon Meacham in today’s NYTimes, for a useful reminder.

nytimes

By JON MEACHAM

JOHN McCAIN was not on the campus of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University last year for very long — the senator, who once referred to Mr. Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance,” was there to receive an honorary degree — but he seems to have picked up some theology along with his academic hood. In an interview with Beliefnet.com last weekend, Mr. McCain repeated what is an article of faith among many American evangelicals: “the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.”

According to Scripture, however, believers are to be wary of all mortal powers. Their home is the kingdom of God, which transcends all earthly things, not any particular nation-state. The Psalmist advises believers to “put not your trust in princes.” The author of Job says that the Lord “shows no partiality to princes nor regards the rich above the poor, for they are all the work of his hands.” Before Pilate, Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” And if, as Paul writes in Galatians, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” then it is difficult to see how there could be a distinction in God’s eyes between, say, an American and an Australian. In fact, there is no distinction if you believe Peter’s words in the Acts of the Apostles: “I most certainly believe now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is welcome to him.”

The kingdom Jesus preached was radical. Not only are nations irrelevant, but families are, too: he instructs those who would be his disciples to give up all they have and all those they know to follow him.

The only acknowledgment of God in the original Constitution is a utilitarian one: the document is dated “in the year of our Lord 1787.” Even the religion clause of the First Amendment is framed dryly and without reference to any particular faith. The Connecticut ratifying convention debated rewriting the preamble to take note of God’s authority, but the effort failed.

The founders of this nation were not irreligious men, although a religion that allowed many of those residing in the southern states to reconcile faith with the holding of slaves has to be judged harshly (perhaps a topic for another day).

But they understood, apparently better than many of their modern-day successors, that the freedom to practice one’s religion is a cornerstone of this nation.

After all, flight from religious persecution was and has been a consistent motivation for waves of immigration, both before, and for nearly every year since the signing of the Constitution.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation – New York Times

Messers Falwell, Robertson and McCain: Leave the rest of us alone to practice, or not, the religion of our choice, free from coercion and the pernicious attempts to undermine education in this country with “creation science” and the like.

The founders were not anti-religion. Many of them were faithful in their personal lives, and in their public language they evoked God. They grounded the founding principle of the nation — that all men are created equal — in the divine. But they wanted faith to be one thread in the country’s tapestry, not the whole tapestry.

If you want a Christian nation, I’ve got one for you: France! Should you want a pure theocracy, try Iran! Go hence and prosper, if you can.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm120: Study: US preparing ‘massive’ military attack against Iran | The Raw Story

August 28, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Today was collection day here at L-HC. Accumulated enough story ideas for a week at least; of course, if they’re news based, the fish get stale quickly.

Found this courtesy of reddit.com, out-digging Digg once again, and it caused me to toss the fish back, perhaps to catch another day.

This one is too important not to share.

rawstoryinvestigates

iranattack

Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday August 28, 2007

The United States has the capacity for and may be prepared to launch without warning a massive assault on Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, as well as government buildings and infrastructure, using long-range bombers and missiles, according to a new analysis.

The paper, “Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East” – written by well-respected British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament – was exclusively provided to RAW STORY late Friday under embargo.

Well, okay, we know that military strategists are always war-gaming, right?

The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.

Sounds a bit more further advanced than a theoretical game, huh?

It’s lengthy, but now take a look at the original story.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Raw Story | Study: US preparing ‘massive’ military attack against Iran

Anyone the least bit concerned about this?

Even-handedly, near the end, the report includes some push-back:

“The report seems to accept without question that US air force and navy bombers could effectively destroy Iran and they seem to ignore the fact that US use of air power in Iraq has failed to destroy all major military, political, economic and transport capabilities,” said Johnson late Monday after the embargo on the study had been lifted.

“But at least in their conclusions they still acknowledge that Iran, if attacked, would be able to retaliate. Yet they are vague in terms of detailing the extent of the damage that the Iran is capable of inflicting on the US and fairly assessing what those risks are.”

Back to the paper:

We should not underestimate the Bush administration’s ability to convince itself that an “Iran of the regions” will emerge from a post-rubble Iran. So, do not be in the least surprised if the United States attacks Iran. Timing is an open question, but it is hard to find convincing arguments that war will be avoided, or at least ones that are convincing in Washington.

Constant reader may already know this about MUDGE: I am not a knee-jerk pacifist peace-nik make love not war child of the sixties.

Like so many of my generation, I artfully dodged the Vietnam draft, in the interests of self-preservation rather than some lofty anti-war principles, I freely, if somewhat shamefacedly admit.

But, carefully reflected upon, carefully conducted war has its place.

My father and father-in-law, both members of the Greatest Generation and now deceased, did their duty, honorably in an honorable cause.

My son, and new daughter-in-law both served multiple tours aboard Naval vessels in the Arabian Gulf enforcing the U.N. sanctions of Iraq in the ’90’s and targeting cruise missiles against the enemy in Afghanistan.

So, it’s not knee-jerk pacifist peace-nik make love not war that is making me feel nauseous as I write this.

Forest fires, after all, are Mother Nature’s way of taking old-growth forests and starting over. Sometimes this same principle may be operative where wrong-headed nations are concerned. Turns out that Smokey the Bear and his fellow peace-loving comrades were both utterly wrong.

Unfortunately, the Muslim states have made no secret of their aim to obliterate Israel, and it’s in reaction to that virulent hatred, and that alone, that causes this observer to think: “Hmm, remove Iran’s capabilities to destroy Tel Aviv and generally make destructive mischief throughout the region? Maybe sooner than later.”

So, I’m concerned. Not because punishing Iran is a bad idea per se. To protect our interests, which include Israel’s right to exist, some punishment may be necessary.

But the gang that can’t shoot straight scares me.

If there’s a way to conduct a preemptive strike against Iran, no matter how good the reasons, we cannot trust George III and his ne’er-do-well minions to correctly consider the geopolitical ramifications, nor direct the military campaign effectively.

So I’m thinking, “Stand down, Pentagon.”

And, all you macho presidential candidates out there (and Hillary, I meant you most of all!), Iran is not the issue with which to flex your warlike muscles. The stakes are way too high for posturing, either by the Bush mis-administration, or by any of you.

This is one initiative that, unless dire reality intrudes, should get put on the shelf until, say, 21-January-2009, the earliest.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE