Rest in Peace, General Powell [Updated]

We lost a solid military leader today, and an inspiration to many people that I know. If not for the stain of being complicit in the false justifications leading up to the invasion of Iraq…..I wouldn’t be able to think of anything unkind to say about him. Gen. Powell was part of a cadre of officers who helped rebuild the military, the U.S. Army in particular….and the Vietnam War…..and propel the force and strategies for victory in Grenada, Panama and Iraq [Desert Storm].

He will also be remembered for a list of pre-requisites that should be followed [but won’t be] prior to any armed engagement overseas: the “Powell Doctrine”.

The Powell Doctrine states that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States:

  1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
  2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
  3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
  4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
  5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
  6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
  7. Is the action supported by the American people?
  8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

Blue Skies and Airborne All The Way, Sir…….

***To no great surprise, Dear Leader [former POTUS] has issued a public statement on General Powell’s passing, through his spokespuppet:

He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!” – President Donald J. Trump

The insecurities and low self-esteem of a guy [not a Man] who couldn’t be bothered to actually serve his country….is hardly unexpected. Stay classy Donnie….

Good Riddance to Afghanistan *Updated*

The inevitable happened a bit earlier than anticipated. Kabul and the Ghani regime, have fallen to the Taliban.

We invaded Afghanistan in 2001 for revenge. I’m fine with that. We stayed for 20 goddamn years, for no discernible purpose….losing American men, women and trillions in the process. And the inevitable still happened. And we should be ashamed.

I’ll borrow some apt words from John Cole at Balloon Juice:

We’ll see a lot of blame thrown at Joe Biden over the next couple of months, and no doubt right-wingers will blame him for “losing” Afghanistan, but most of it is bullshit. Are there some things that could possibly have been done better? Sure. Much of the bitching by our warrior class is focused on the timing of the withdrawal (often ignoring the fact that it was Trump who set the original date), saying we should have waited until the winter when the majority of the Taliban will be at home and it won’t be “the fighting season,” the name for what you and I know as summer and fall. And I suppose he could have. And then we would be reading all of these headlines next spring and summer instead of right now. That’s the thing about delaying the inevitable, it is, in fact, just a delay. This was going to happen no matter when we left and there is nothing anyone can say that will convince me otherwise.

The inevitable happened for a variety of reasons, all known and prophesied by rational and astute people……instead of the faux patriots and armchair commandos that are garnering much of the online and media attention today.

Those who seek to blame certain politicians [in the interest of their party’s narrative], conveniently forget about the ‘peace process’ with the Taliban [thought we didn’t negotiate with ‘terrorists’?], where we saw said Taliban receive 5000 of their captured fighters back into their fold…….and a reneging on nearly every aspect of the process. Those who would wail about us ‘abandoning’ the Ghani regime…..also seem to forget that we negotiated with the Taliban unilaterally, without the partnership of the Kabul regime, at the behest of the Taliban. Nice.

The Taliban, as horrific an entity they are…..are not a national security threat to then U.S. homeland, and never have been. Our Afghan satrapy [and our likewise fools errand in Iraq] has largely denuded our armed forces of the ability to resist actual threats, whether in the form of ISIS worldwide, as well as that of Russia and China.

Good riddance, to a misadventure that should have expired 19 years ago.

*Update* A worthy link from 2014 Iraq that explains well the inevitability of the fall of Kabul: Investing in Junk Armies: Why American Efforts to Create Foreign Armies Fail

Worth your time……

Hiatus Break: Syria “Invasion”? No

Just no. Rightwingers are trafficking a narrative that on day 1 of the Biden Administration, we apparently “invaded Syria”. They rest this false narrative on a news article that spoke of a convoy travelling from Iraq to Syria.

It is adorable however, if somebody thinks that the DoD can move so quickly on a such an endeavor. But sadly for the surface-skimming types…..this was a regular logistic convoy to our current and well-established bases in eastern Syria [where we are, I might add, without the consent or invitation of the host nation government].

Much was made of Trump’s previous announcement of a “withdrawal” of forces from Syria a while back…..but less seem educated on his reversal and stated intent to use our blood and treasure to “protect the eastern Syrian oil”. So, this apparent ignorance [in the age of Google], coupled with a single news report that they can shoehorn into their partisan narrative……and viola! We have a “Biden invasion”……

The simple fact of the matter, as Google will easily confirm, a National Guard Brigade is currently taking over from the 82nd ABN Brigade that has been here for the last 9 months. These handover/takeovers, or Reliefs in Place [RIP]….necessitate incoming and outgoing equipment and personnel moves. Convoys, air traffic, etc.

Period. Don’t think we should be in Syria? Great! I agree. And if Biden doesn’t divest us from Iraq & Syria, shame on him. But shame on his predecessor as well. Quit making the most rational issues hyper-partisan because you have the sadz that your guy didn’t win re-election.

On Hiatus

No surprise to any one who still checks in here. There’s simply no free time…and no interest to be honest. At least for now.

I’m deployed again, and have been for a bit now. The Iranians and their proxies demand just about all of my attention…which further compels me to wonder why the hell we’re still over here. That we’re here to defend Iraq against ISIS, is a canard that is well past it’s expiration date. We’re here to keep the eastern Syrian oil fields out of the hands of the Syrians themselves [how’s that for respecting someone’s national sovereignty?]. Remember that if we [or a certain ‘third party’] attack Iran in the waning days of the Trump Regime….or if they strike first. If it happens, remember why our sons and daughters were sacrificed…..

At home, the Leftists and the Trump Cultists continue to try and out-stupid themselves in the race to see who can destroy the Republic and piss on the Constitution more, or quicker. Snowflakes and beta-boi’s on both sides….some dressed in black and some in their airsoft finery….all trying to compensate for poor life choices and low self-esteem….make me glad that I can retreat to my homestead upon my departure from one shithole country to return to an emerging shithole country.

Yep, my country is becoming an embarrassing example on par with so many others…..’exceptionalism’ my ass. And, I’ve earned the right to think such.

Another “Endless War” on the Horizon? Part II

Some additional context regarding our inevitable(?) clash with Iran.

As Iran counts down the minutes to the end of an arms embargo so that it can begin importing much-needed technology and dual-use equipment for weapons, a senior US official alleged that it is resuming work with North Korea on long-range missiles. Iran also could have enough material for a nuclear weapon by the end of the year. The report was part of a larger Reuters report about new US sanctions against up to two dozen people and entities that will be slapped onto Iran. The US has urged the UN to snap back sanctions on Iran after Washington says Iran violated a 2015 deal.Iran has circled the wagons and brought in the Russians, China, Turkey, the EU and many other countries to oppose the US attempts to put more sanctions on. The US allegation about the long-range missile work is linked to other US claims that Iran has violated agreements linked to ballistic missile development. Iran says it can build whatever it wants. It recently put a military satellite into space. – Link

So, great. We helped accelerate Iran ‘s nuclear program.

With the announcement earlier this month that the United States will withdraw thousands of its troops from Iraq, Iran and its Shia Islamist proxies have hailed the decision as a victory of their “Axis of Resistance”. 

Undoubtedly, this will mean that the Iraqi Shia militias who work hand-in-glove with Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will feel emboldened by a reduction of capable enemies on their doorstep, and will seek to expand their power and influence even further.

However, this also raises a question of the relevance of the Shia militias in Iraqi politics, particularly those who serve under the banner of the Baghdad-sanctioned but Tehran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

A large part of their existence is based upon their rhetoric of resisting a foreign occupier and combating the Islamic State (IS) group which has been formally declared as defeated since 2017.

With their raison d’être now undermined, and early elections called for 2021, fears are growing that the PMF and Iran are simply seeking to entrench a pro-Tehran regime in Baghdad, completely undermining Iraqi self-determination and sovereignty. – Link

Interesting times lay ahead for Iraq, and our involvement within, until China supersedes our shaky ‘alliance’ anyway. Our forces inside Iraq and Syria have defensive capability, but are not remotely configured for the offense. Which fuels my inclination that force drawdowns in Iraq could be part of the war with Iran equation….to not leave them sitting as targets when things go sideways. No such drawdown in Syria however, where both IRGC and PMF forces are also present [IRGC in greater numbers than Iraq].

And then we have competing visions about our policy vis-a-vis naval presence in the gulf specifically. From the excellent USNI Blog:

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told House lawmakers that the aircraft carrier “has a profound deterring affect principally upon Iran.”

“They know what the carrier is. They track the presence of the carrier. And I view a carrier as a critical part of a deterrent posture effective against Iran,” he said.

McKenzie went on to tell lawmakers he believes that the reduction in Navy carrier presence in early 2019 and years prior may have contributed to the latest cycle of escalation from Iran that came to a head with the U.S. assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani and a retaliatory strike from Iran on U.S. bases in Iraq.

And from Bryan Clark, a former senior aide to the chief of naval operations and now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute:

“The Iranians don’t perceive carriers and a threat to their ability to project power because they project power through gray zone activities and terrorism — the kinds of things that carriers aren’t very good at dealing with.”

“And when they are inside the Persian Gulf, the Iranians perceive them as being an easy target. They can range the entire gulf with shore batteries along the coast in caves and other terrain where it’s hard to root them out,” he added. “So the Iranians see the carrier as a way to get the Americans to spend a lot of money on a show of force that doesn’t really impact their strategic calculation.”

**And for extra credit, see The Iranian Coup that Led to 67 Years of Reckless Intervention**

Iran and Letters of Marque and Reprisal

I’ve been supporting our military and intelligence efforts in Iraq since 2011, working for the same agency [no, not that Agency, but very much related], with multiple deployments to Iraq…..and nothing makes me happier in the offensive sense, than to see Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis [as well as others] killed with extreme prejudice. I know intimately the imminent threat that prompted the timing of this strike, and had it not been authorized, a loss of American life in a short window would have occurred that was rivaled only by 9/11. Full credit to POTUS for giving the green light, and full credit to the dedication of the teams of analysts and operators who made this happen.

Muhandis, with Soleimani’s blessing, ordered a consistent series of rocket attacks against US and Coalition locations within Iraq since April of this year….ignored by the American media; not to mention the IRGC-QF technical and operational assistance to Shi’s militia’s during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Countless American and Coalition lives were lost as a direct result of the IRGC-QF.

A 2012 Army War College paper that I’ve had in my digital library for many years, highlights a Constitutional, yet unfashionable approach to dealing with State, proxy-force and terrorist actors in the current age – Letters of Marque and Reprisal.

By the time the Constitution was ratified in 1789, the practice of privateering had been a legitimate part of Western warfare for over 500 years. Letters of marque and reprisal had been important tools for the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation during the American Revolution, and this power granted by the Constitution would maintain its significance in the years following its ratification. The Framers placed great import on the federal government’s role in protecting maritime commerce and enforcing the common law of nations. While changes in warfare and developments in international law during the last century have largely vanquished the role of privateering, the Congressional authority to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal remains, having never been repealed.

As the U.S. and the international community contemplate a host of difficult security concerns modern extraterritorial threats such as piracy, terrorism, and cyber exploitation, U.S. policymakers and legal scholars should contemplate the conceptual merit of letters of marque and reprisal as a means of combating these threats short of “war.” This is not to say that the Constitutional power to grant letters of marque and reprisal should be taken lightly. As Thomas Jefferson explained, “The making of a reprisal on a nation is a very serious thing. Remonstrance and refusal of satisfaction ought to precede; and when reprisal follows, it is considered an act of war, and never yet failed to produce it in the case of a nation able to make war.”

Read the rest here: Resurrecting Letters of Marque and Reprisal to Address Modern Threats

It’s a concept that’s time has come to consider, again.

Still Dancing to bin Laden’s Tune

In 2001, al Qaeda consisted of only 400 ideologues in the far corners of the world. After the recent regime change wars in Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria, typical estimates place their membership at around 20,000. To top it all off, the American economy is out $5.6 trillion dollars for the whole failed project. This is not the legacy of a war to spread, or even protect, liberty and prosperity. Instead it is the legacy of an evil but gifted tactician, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Contrary to the popular misunderstanding of al Qaeda’s motives and strategy, bin Laden and his partner Ayman al Zawahiri were not trying to scare America away with the September 11th attacks. They were trying to provoke an overreaction. Al Qaeda’s leaders wanted the U.S. to invade Afghanistan in order to bog our military down, “bleed us to bankruptcy,” and force a worn-out, broken empire to leave the region the hard way, and permanently, just as they had done to the Soviet Union in the 1980s with American support. Only then could they hope to launch the revolutions they sought in their home countries without interference from the American superpower.

Source: Breitbart

I like me some job security, but enough is enough. When will our disastrous foreign policy ambitions be thwarted by rational Americans?

Okay…that was rhetorical. We all know that answer is never. Even as we now prop up the Saudi regime in Yemen, and enable their pursuit of war with Iran.

When will Citizens and wake the fuck up? Patriots already have….but are far too few in number, and led by charlatans like fish on a hook.

In Memoriam

This isn’t exactly an annual occurrence, reposting what I’ve written long ago. But finding myself back in Iraq on a Memorial Day, probably not 50 miles from where Jim Doster last drew breath…..I don’t really have anything else to write….that makes any more sense than what is already typed. This Memorial Day, I don’t have a dram of anything to raise – anything worthy of raising anyway.

Libertas and Latte

Every once in awhile, I look at my StatCounter page, to see where people are coming to this site from….and I noticed, that several views from today, are to one of the first few posts I made. It was closing in on Memorial Day 2009, but what I wrote was more to put emotions to words, than for the upcoming day of remembrance. Not many [any?] who stop by now, were around these parts in 2009, so for those that are now……I’d like to introduce you to SFC Jim Doster.

From 2009:
On the 29th of September 2007, I lost my friend Jim Doster.
A guy, who like me, wanted nothing more than to lead soldiers one more time before retiring. A guy who, like me, had heartache about where the Army had sent him during his career, and the regrets of missed opportunities. Jim and I became friends while…

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Sage advice….which will be ignored

Lieutenant General (US Army Retired) Hal Moore, who commanded a battalion at the Battle of the Ia Drang, the first major battle between the U.S. Army and North Vietnamese regulars in 1965, and was immortalized in the film We Were Soldiers and book We Were Soldiers Once…and Young told West Point Cadets in 2005:

“The war in Iraq, I said, is not worth the life of even one American soldier. As for Secretary Rumsfeld, I told them, I never thought I would live long enough to see someone chosen to preside over the Pentagon who made Vietnam-era Defense Secretary Robert McNamara look good by comparison. The cadets sat in stunned silence; their professors were astonished. Some of these cadets would be leading young soldiers in combat in a matter of a few months. They deserved a straight answer.

The expensive lessons learned in Vietnam have been forgotten and a new generation of young American soldiers and Marines are paying the price today, following the orders of civilian political leaders as they are sworn to do. The soldiers and those who lead them will never fail to do their duty. They never have in our history. This is their burden. But there is another duty, another burden, that rests squarely on the shoulders of the American people. They should, by their vote, always choose a commander in chief who is wise, well read in history, thoughtful, and slow-exceedingly slow-to draw the sword and send young men and women out to fight and die for their country. We should not choose for so powerful an office someone who merely looks good on a television screen, speaks and thinks in sixty-second sound bites, and is adept at raising money for a campaign.

If we can’t get that part right then there will never be an end to the insanity that is war and the unending suffering that follows in war’s wake-and we must get it right if we are to survive and prosper as free Americans in this land a million Americans gave their lives to protect and defend.”

He was not invited back…….

I can’t remember where I saw and copied this from, so h/t to somebody. Apologies.