Crisis In The Ukraine Could Humiliate Obama and America By Default.


The Ukrainian crisis has the potential to become a major embarrassment for Obama and the US.  Here is why.

1.  Russia is not nearly as weak as it was in the 1990’s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Oil money has buffered Moscow and strengthened Putin’s grip on power.

2.  America is not nearly as strong as it was in the 1990’s.  The debacle in Iraq and the economic meltdown have damaged America’s standing in the world and its ability to act.  Add to this the recent Obama administration’s drastic military cuts and it makes it clear that America should not be feared.

3.  This is in Russia’s backyard and they deem the Crimea (which has a heavily Russian population) as Russian territory even though technically it is a part of the Ukraine.

4.  The Ukrainian president that was just forced from office was elected democratically to office although I am sure that it was corrupt.  This, along with the fact that the Crimea is heavily Russian provides Putin with the justification to intervene militarily.

5.  The West encouraged the demonstrators in the Ukraine but nobody should be fooled here.  There is no chance of the US or Europe putting boots on the ground to protect the Ukraine.

6.  The only thing the US and the West can do is talk tough and hope the Russians don’t call their bluff.  Putin knows this and he will call the bluff humiliating Obama and America by default.

7.  Obama’s much hyped “Russian reset” has been a total failure.  A pattern has developed here with Russia playing a major role in problems around the world.  Syria, Iran, and the Ukraine all have one thing in common, Russian interference.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10667111/Ukraine-pleads-for-Britain-and-US-to-come-to-its-rescue-as-Russia-accused-of-invasion.html

 

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US Now Bankrolling British Intelligence So They Can Spy On Americans


 

Recently leaked documents revealed that the NSA has paid the British to spy American citizens to circumvent US law.

Recently leaked documents revealed that the NSA has paid the British to spy American citizens to circumvent US law. 

 

In a shocking revelation courtesy of Edward Snowden it has now been revealed that the US has been paying the British for their intelligence services.  This includes using the British to spy on American citizens because the NSA is regulated by US law, supposedly to prevent the spy agency from spying on ordinary Americans.  This is a bombshell on multiple levels.  First, because of what we already mentioned and second, because the British are revealed in the documents to be keenly aware that they are the junior partner in the relationship.  In other words they readily acknowledge that they are providing a service to a paying client.  Check out these inflammatory quotes below and then head over to  http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/01/nsa-paid-gchq-spying-edward-snowden for the whole story.

“We both accept and accommodate NSA’s different way of working,” the document said. “We are less constrained by NSA’s concerns about compliance.”

Picture courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/rothbard/3738299427/

 

Dear Mr. President


Dear Mr. President I thought I would just drop you a quick little line while your on your way back from meeting the Chinese where I am sure you tried to give away what few secrets we have left along with what ever remaining American jobs you could find to appease our Chinese debt holders.  This quick little note is just an attempt to remind you of the obvious which is that you can’t claim the war on terror is over and Al Qaeda has been decimated while also claiming that you need to have extraordinary powers to spy on the citizens you serve.  As we have seen since this story broke the average joe on the street already knows this so that begs the question why do you need reminded?  Please do explain.

Some Of The First Americans Were Cannibals


British settlers in Jamestown resorted to cannibalism

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A facial reconstruction of “Jane of Jamestown” sits alongside the recovered skull Photo: AP

 

 

Today it was announced that anthropologists had found proof that at least some of the first English settlers in America had turned to cannibalism to survive what became known as “the starving time” at the Jamestown settlement.  To support these claims various human remains from the settlement were displayed with evidence that various meat cutting tools were used to dismember the bodies.  Of note was one 14 year old girl whose skull had multiple indentations that were made by someone chopping at her head.  The anthropologists theorized that she was probably a maid servant or daughter that died of natural causes but was then fed on during a time of intense starvation.  They even displayed a 3 dimensional model of the young girl’s face which makes for interesting viewing when you think that other human beings ate her.

According to the original article the settlement’s leader Captain John Smith gave a written account of another colonist who was tried, convicted, and executed for murdering his pregnant wife for food.  Captain Smith had this to say about the matter.

“One amongst the rest did kill his wife, powdered her, and had eaten part of her before it was known, for which he was executed, as he well deserved.

“Now whether she was better roasted, boiled or carbonado’d (barbecued), I know not, but of such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of.”

The period known as “the starving time” was extremely brutal on the colonists reducing the population from several hundred before the winter to about 60 survivors that spring.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10031678/British-settlers-in-Jamestown-resorted-to-cannibalism.html

Europoeans Left Undefended As US Shifts Focus To Asia And European Governments Slash Budgets


 

French President Hollande inspecting French troops in Afghanistan.

French President Hollande inspecting French troops in Afghanistan.

 

As the US begins to focus more on Asia and less on Europe there is a new reality for the people of Europe that they are defenseless.  Couple the US pivot to Asia with the fact that the economic crisis has forced many european governments to slash budgets and you have a situation in Europe where it is hard to see how they can defend themselves.  One might ask who exactly the enemy is they should be defending against?  While the answer is not necessarily obvious like it was during the Cold War there are capability gaps in european defense that need to be addressed.  First, europe is already within range of Iranian missiles so it would seem that missile defense should be a priority.  It also begs the question of why the US should be considering paying to provide europe with a missile defense?  The only possible answer would be to defend Europe in case the US strikes Iran but to me that should still mean that Europe should pay and not the US.  Europe also has no ability to project real power around the globe.  I dare say that they would even be hard pressed to be able to protect their interests abroad should they be threatened by even the most feeble of opponents.  Also Europe needs some credible military capability to at least be able to conduct operations with the US when it is in their interest too.  From enforcing future no fly zones or combating terrorism or piracy Europe should have some ability to at least be a contributing partner to future coalitions.  Lastly Europe should be thinking of ways to intervene (not miltarily) in collapsed european states in the near future.  Sooner or later if the situation does not improve in countries like Greece or worse Spain the EU will have to consider how they might deal with countries where the national government ceases to function effectively.  No, it has not come to that yet but if the economic crisis does not resolve itself soon it would be foolish to think that it could not happen.

Our US protector is looking the other way

The Iraq War 10 Years On Part II


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Part II of our series on the Iraq War looks at the generals and their legacies.  Will they be remembered as heroes of the nation or will they be synonymous with failure.  Also stay tuned for part III when we take a look at the major events in the war like the invasion and the surge and try to answer the question of was it worth it?

Gen. Petraeus

No general came out of the war looking better than Petraeus.  He started the war during the invasion as a 2 star general commanding the famed 101st Airborne Division.  As invasion turned to occupation Petraeus was one of the few generals that understood the US military was facing a legitimate insurgency and he actually had ideas about how to deal with it effectively.  His embrace of counter insurgency warfare from the start meant that he would go on to play a key role throughout the long war.  After commanding the 101st he was then assigned several tasks including writing the army’s manual for counter insurgency warfare and also leading the effort to train Iraq’s new army.  It should be noted that his effort to train the Iraqi military was not a stellar success.  Whether it was because Rumsfeld and the pentagon never fully bought into the concept or maybe he just didn’t get the job done, what ever the reason there is that blemish.  Of course it was later when Petraeus was appointed by Bush as CentCom Commander that he gained his real fame leading the surge and preventing total humiliation in Iraq for America.  History will look back on him as an innovative commander who when offered a significant command when his nation was in dire need he was able to use that position to reverse a disastrous situation.

Gen. Odierno

To me Odierno really represented the US Army as a whole because he was there during the initial invasion (as commander of the 4th Infantry division that was late getting into the fight because the Turks would not allow them access) and frankly probably did some things wrong, overly aggressive around civilians etc.  However he was able to transform and help lead the change as the lead general in Iraq during the surge.  To me that is no small achievement and I think he deserves great credit.  He currently serves as the US Army Chief of Staff where unfortunately he has stained his record by offering no resistance to women in the infantry but that is another matter entirely.  Also of note his son served in Iraq as a young officer and was seriously wounded losing an arm.  I think it is always a good thing when those who send our sons and daughters into harm’s way also have their own family members sharing the same risks.

Gen. Abizaid

Abizaid took command of CentCom in late summer of 2003 when Rumsfeld still refused to acknowledge that there was an insurgency.  To his credit at his first news conference he quickly reversed course for Rumsfeld by admitting we were in an insurgent war.  Unfortunately Abizaid would be crippled by incompetent commanders in Iraq (remember as CentCom Commander Abizaid would not be the general in Iraq leading the effort on the ground).  He had the misfortune of having two duds (courtesy of Rumsfeld) to carry out the war effort in Iraq.  He was a big proponent of using fewer troops arguing that the more Americans that were in Iraq the more hostile the populace would become.  Unfortunately for him that strategy was ultimately disproved by the surge.

Gen.  Sanchez

He was one of the two duds I referred to that Abizaid was cursed with to run the war in Iraq.  He was quickly appointed as the ground commander in Iraq after the initial invasion while he was still only a 3 star commander.  It was said that because his command had only been a 3 star command that he did not have nearly enough support staff to run his new 4 star appointment (I believe this came out of the book Fiasco by Tom Ricks but it has been so long I can’t say for sure) which meant that America’s lead officer on the ground was both inexperienced and under staffed to run a 4 star command.  This was not unusual for a Rumsfeld appointment, frankly it appears that Rumsfeld liked people who wouldn’t  stand up for themselves against him (Sanchez replaced Gen. Wallace who was a real 4 star because many speculated that he didn’t get along with Rumsfeld).  The end result of Sanchez’s tenure was the insurgency picked up steam partly as a result of his aggressive intelligence gathering techniques which relied on picking up suspects and sending them to Abu Ghraib (we all know how that ended up).

Gen. Casey

The other dud that Abizaid was cursed with to lead the war in Iraq.  Another Rumsfeld appointee whose only real qualification was that he wouldn’t tell Rumsfeld no (we are beginning to see a pattern here).  His major contribution to the war effort was an idea that to win the war we had to keep casualties down so he ordered troops to stay on base instead of conducting security sweeps.  The results were a total disaster for Iraq and America.  The insurgents ran wild killing civilians and humiliating America.  After his time in Iraq he was rewarded with the Army Chief of Staff position and Sen. McCain famously said that based on his time in Iraq he didn’t deserve to be rewarded with the position.

Gen. Franks

Much like Colin Powell Tommy Franks to me is another wild card, whether he was hero or villain is quite complex.  The case against Franks is that the insurgency took root while he was still in command.  In his defense it appears that Franks was told that he did not have to worry about Iraq once Saddam had been toppled.  That a whole separate command was to be in charge of post-war Iraq.  If this were true (once again I believe this came from Fiasco by Tom Ricks) it would be hard to blame Franks for this.  Also supporting Franks case for hero was that he had to fight Rumsfeld tooth and nail for even the bare minimum of forces necessary to win the invasion.  This is no small accomplishment and in my opinion Franks probably helped avert a national disaster by insisting on more troops (moron civilians in the pentagon were calling for only 75,000 troops).  The fact that Franks was even the commander for the invasion is evidence of Rumsfeld’s tough time getting along with army generals.  Franks was due to rotate out of command of CentCom before the invasion.  In an article in Time or Newsweek before the invasion it detailed how Rumsfeld couldn’t find anyone he had confidence in to replace Franks so he asked him to stay on for the invasion.  This sounds ok at first but the fact that Franks did not want to stay past the invasion(he was tired after having already led the fight in Afghanistan) was the reason Rumsfeld came up with idea of shifting responsibility for post war Iraq to a whole different command.  It was that decision that paved the way for the insurgency to take hold because Franks planned his invasion without post war Iraq in mind.

Gen. Shinseki

I wanted to briefly mention Shinseki who was army chief of staff at the time of the invasion.  Remember it was Shinseki who testified to congress before the war that it would take several hundred thousand troops to occupy Iraq effectively.  He was then savaged in the worst way by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.  Of course Shinseki was ultimately proved right and to many he has become a hero for standing up to those bullies.

In closing, we have mentioned only the major players in the war.  Basically all (except Shinseki) were either CentCom Commander or Mult-National Forces Iraq Commander.  There are many others who made significant contributions to the war, but it is these men who held the command positions to influence the war the most.    Because of this it is these men that history will hold accountable for the war effort in Iraq.

Gen.
Tommy Franks, commander in chief, U.S. Central

The Iraq War 10 Years On Part I


Hopes were high the day this statue fell in Baghdad.

Hopes were high the day this statue fell in Baghdad.

Wow, it is truly hard to believe that it has been 10 years this month since then Pres. Bush decided to roll the dice with the national destiny and invade Iraq under the pretext of WMD.  So much has happened to both the soldiers who served their and to the nation as a whole since that time.  The big question that will always be asked of the Iraq War is was it worth it?  The answer not surprisingly is quite complex.  Below is a list of some of the people and events that were central to the Iraq war and how they should be remembered.

President Bush

Obviously Bush carries the most responsibility for the war.  I think the most generous statement one could make about his leadership of the war would be something to the effect that he was completely naive about what he was getting himself and the country into.  To say that he was given bad information by the subordinates he appointed would be an understatement.  He was completely clueless as he hurled the nation into the war and seemed to remain that way until the 2006 congressional elections.  Which upon being whipped by the democrats he finally began to take personal responsibility for the war by dumping Rumsfeld and his loser strategy in Iraq.  The result was The Surge which Bush and those responsible for should get a lot of credit.  Having said that its hard to give too much credit to a president that was in essence only fixing what he had originally made a mess of.

Vice President Cheney

Before Cheney served as vice president I used to respect him, however, it seemed almost from his first days as vice president I found myself thinking who is this guy?  Unfortunately for me and the nation as a whole that feeling would only grow.  Of all the individuals to come out of Iraq looking like a loser probably only Rumsfeld looks worse than Cheney.  Remember the fuss about the Bush administration manufacturing intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq?  Well Cheney played a lead role in that effort.  He was even called out for it in a little read article about it prior to the war that said in clear language that Cheney had pressured intelligence analysts to produce more favorable reports that would justify war.  Then his unflinching support for Rumsfeld and his horrible strategy of not enough troops to stabilize the country cost the US and Iraq thousands of dead and billions of dollars wasted.  For these crimes of incompetence he will always be branded a loser.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld

The man most responsible for Iraq becoming the disaster that it was.  This was the man who initially only wanted to invade Iraq with around 75,000 soldiers (there were roughly about 132,000 in Iraq the day the statue fell in Baghdad).  Also remember that Rumsfeld the omniscience refused to acknowledge that there even was an insurgency until finally in a pentagon news conference in August of 2003 newly appointed Centcom Commander Abizaid admitted that there was an insurgency.  Rumsfeld also had a real problem for putting people in key positions whose only qualifications were that they consistently agreed with him.  The list of bad generals that Rumsfeld personally picked is quite long but the more impressive fact is that he often had to go out of his way to find these losers by appointing them before they were ready (Gen. Sanchez).  Or calling them out of retirement and put them into positions they were not suited (Gen. Schoomaker).  Or last but not least appointing someone who was obviously incompetent and whose only qualification was that would not tell him no (Gen. Casey).  There are more generals, as a matter of fact someone could write a book on Rumsfeld’s horrible appointments.  But the number one issue that Rumsfeld should be remembered for is it was his strategy (the less is more strategy) and concept that technology had replaced the need for large numbers of ground troops that led America to near humiliation in Iraq.  Suffice to say that a legitimate case could be made that Donald Rumsfeld quite possibly could have been the worst Sec. Def. in the history of the United States, what a loser.

Secretary of State Powell

To me Powell is a real wild card in the whole tragedy that was Iraq.  On the one hand I always had the sense that he probably had no desire to invade Iraq but he thought he could do the country more good by fighting the problem from within.  Powell was always the lone voice of dissent in the administration but it appeared that he eventually accepted the idea we would invade Iraq and then decided that it was his mission to make sure it was done the right way (or his version of it) by going through the UN (although his testimony now is looked upon as a career low point because of the discredited evidence).  There also was a story done in the run up to the war that showed Powell was greatly concerned about the size of invasion force but in the end there was not much he could do about that from the State Dept.  I feel history will ultimately look upon Powell’s role in the war as a man who tried to do what was right but unfortunately for the country was not able to.

National Security Advisor Rice

Rice appeared to be in way over her head in the first several years on the job but some have argued that she found her footing in the 2nd term as Sec. of State.  My response to this would be that unfortunately for the nation those years in the first term were very important and those successes that she did have in the 2nd term was her trying to correct problems she bears major responsibility for in the first.  Rice, in my opinion, should have aligned more strongly with Powell in thwarting Cheney and Rumsfeld.  Unfortunately she decided to play it safe and stay in between the two groups.  That decision had dire consequences for the nation.  Powell was desperate for allies within the administration to challenge the “dark side”(cheney, rumsfeld), to bad Rice was not up to the job.  To give her credit in the 2nd term the reality of the Bush administration’s deteriorating political position evidenced by 2006 elections combined with her new found desire to take on Rumsfeld helped bring about a change in strategy in Iraq and possibly also prevented a war with Iran.  But as was already mentioned there will always be the idea of what if Condi would have allied with Powell and challenged the “dark side”?

The next post will look at the generals of the Iraq war and their legacies.  While the third part will look at the major events from the invasion to the surge.  Then finally we will attempt to answer the ultimate question, was it worth it?  Thanks for reading.