Obama’s Drastic Defense Cuts


Today Russia has alerted over 150,000 soldiers to test their readiness to invade the Ukraine, the Syrian Civil War rages on supported by Russia killing tens of thousands.  Iran , once again supported by Russia, is racing to build nuclear weapons and threatening to wipe Israel from the map.  The US is committed by treaty to defend South Korea against the nuclear armed North Korea, which just so happen to share the world’s most heavily armed border in the world with over 1.2 million on either side of the border ready to kill each other.  The US is also obligated by treaty to defend Japan and all its territory.  Recently the Chinese have begun laying claim to Japanese territory.  To intimidate the Japanese and America the Chinese have routinely in the last year sent ships and planes to continuously provoke the Japanese.  The exact same has happened with the Philippines, which just so happens to have a treaty with the US.

None of the above even mentions the ongoing battle with islamic extremists around the globe.  On top of all this current Sec. Def. Hagel has admitted that the US stands to lose military dominance if investments aren’t made to ensure continued US technological advantages.  However in spite of everything I just listed, what can only be described as a world spinning out of control, this administration has decided to make drastic cuts to the American military.  In essence we are communicating are lack of resolve and weakness to our many adversaries around the globe.  Unfortunately for us and the world as a whole they are listening.

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The Iraq War 10 Years On Was It Worth It?


We are finishing up our look back on the Iraq War by attempting to answer the all important question of was the war worth it.  As you might have been thinking that is a pretty tough question to answer and because of that I think the only real way to try to answer that is to take emotion out of the equation and try analyze the facts as best as possible.  To accomplish this we need to not only look at this as Americans but also as Iraqis, and then again as Shia Iraqis, as Kurdish Iraqis, and finally as Sunni Iraqis because in the end it is their country.  So to accomplish this I will try to weigh the pros and cons from each group.

The Shia Iraqis

Considering that the Shia Iraqis probably took quite a beating during the war some might think that they would not think it worth it.  However, one must also remember that the Shia were persecuted in Iraq by Saddam prior to the war.  Also important to note is that as the largest group of people in Iraq they now control their own fate politically.  Although recent polling shows right now that Shia Iraqis feel worse off I think there is a reasonable chance that will change IF Iraq can stabilize in the near future.

The Kurds

The Kurdish people probably suffered the least from the war almost setting up a state within a state.  I am sure they are disappointed because they are still a part of Iraq but I am also sure that they are thankful to no longer having Saddam shooting chemical weapons at them either.

The Sunnis

The Sunnis without  a doubt have lost the most.  Saddam was a Sunni so they have gone from running the government to becoming junior partners in government to people they used to persecute.  You can imagine that they don’t like this and to them I would believe they do not think the war was worth it.

The Americans

For Americans the war has been bitterly divisive.  When the invasion was launched 10 years ago I remember polls showing support for the war around 70%.  Of course that would have been based on the false assumption that Iraq held stockpiles of wmd.  Couple that with gross incompetence of the nation’s senior defense officials like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the many generals who failed miserably in Iraq and your left with the idea that even if you thought the war was still justified because Saddam was gone you can’t excuse gross negligence/complete incompetence/near criminal misconduct with how the war was ran.  Having said all of that I do believe that in spite of everything I just said as bad as the war was for everybody involved the sanctions put on Iraq after the first Gulf War killed far more Iraqis than the war did.  Estimates are between 1-2 million Iraqis died from the sanctions, so you could probably say comfortably that the sanctions killed at least 1 million more people than the war did.

Surprisingly my own personal opinion about the war has changed just in the last week because of the research I did for this series.  Before I started this series I was convinced the war was a complete waste based on bad intelligence or maybe even outright lies about wmd etc..  While I am still shocked and dismayed by the incompetence of our so-called leaders about the handling of the war I can say definitively that something had to be done about Iraq and the sanctions put in place after the first Gulf War.  To be blunt we were butchering Iraqis literally by the thousands each year just so we could feel safe that Saddam wasn’t rearming.  This was wrong period and the situation had to be changed.  Does that mean there should have been an invasion?  I don’t know, you would like to think that during the 90’s upon realizing what the sanctions were doing to ordinary Iraqis a real effort would have been made to get rid of Saddam by all means necessary to include war if necessary.  To think that we launched the Kosovo campaign in the late 90’s to try to stop a genocide from being committed by Milosevic when we really needed to have been trying to stop a genocide in Iraq from being committed in our names makes me cringe.  As bad as the war was at least it ended the even worse sanctions.

The Cold Hard Truth

190,000 Iraqis killed in the war

4488 American soldiers killed in the war

3400 American civilian contractors killed in the war

2.2 trillion dollars spent on the war

Things To Consider

1-2 million Iraqis killed because of sanctions prior to the war

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/how-do-iraqis-view-the-effects-of-the-iraq-war/

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/03/15/study-iraq-war-cost-190k-lives-22-trillion.html?comp=1198882887570&rank=9

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1169290/

The Iraq War 10 Years On Part III


 

 

 

iraq-marines

Part III in our series takes a look at some of the major events of the war trying to assess how they look now that some time has passed.  Be sure to check back in later this week as we conclude are series on the Iraq War trying to answer the question of was it worth it?

The Rationale For War

This to me is critical because the rest of the long, drawn out war is justified by the original rationale for war.  The idea that Saddam was a threat because he had large stock piles of wmd was absurd.  To believe that a man who was singularly focused on one thing, the survival of his regime, would endanger that regime by trying obtain wmd was beyond dumb.  Couple this with the fact that most people are convinced that the administration lied about the evidence before the war and you have a serious problem.  The real tragedy about this was that there were legitimate reasons to get rid of Saddam.  Chief among those were that the West felt so insecure about Saddam and the threat of wmd that they killed more in Iraq by sanctions after the first Gulf War than were ever killed in the entire 2nd Gulf War.  Read this disturbing quote below from 2003 right before the invasion to get an idea of how bad sanctions made life in Iraq.

“More than 3000 children are dying every week in Iraq as a result of the decade long embargo that was enforced on the country after its invasion of Kuwait, a new report says.

It puts the total increase in the number of children who have died as a result of the embargo at around 1.6 million since 1990, with year on year increases.”

I tried to find an official body count from the sanctions but of course that was pretty hard to do.  The numbers I saw ranged from 1-2 million people killed by the sanctions.  The number of civilians killed during entire 2nd war in Iraq ranged from a little over 100,000 to up to 600,000 (by far left groups).  With this in mind it is clear that the sanctions were far more deadly to Iraqis than the actual war itself (not that it was any less horrific).  To me in the final analysis the better rationale for war was to have been based on the idea that the sanctions had to end to save Iraqi lives.

The Invasion

Heralded at the time as one of the great feats of military prowess with a full 10 years to reflect on the event I would imagine most unbiased observers would be less impressed.  The pros were that ground units did rapidly advance (supposedly faster and farther than any before) from Kuwait to the capital of Baghdad, but the to be honest most Iraqi army units decided not to fight, although some irregular units chose to engage and there were some intense fights they were almost all small in size.  The point is that yes the invasion forces may have advanced at unprecedented speed but it’s not as if they fought massive battles with tens of thousands of soldiers squaring off against each other (having said that I have no doubt that for individual soldiers facing even small unit engagements that the intensity, fear, and yes probably some exhilaration of the fights were extremely real).  Cons are fairly numerous.  The small size of the invasion force made it difficult to properly secure even areas that had been supposedly liberated.  This had the effect of leaving the impression to some Iraqis that they had survived the worst the Americans could throw at them, in other words they had not been defeated and still had plenty of fight left in them.  This also had another consequence for the occupation because there were so few troops they could not secure critical infrastructure (most probably remember Iraqis looting government buildings) and also they couldn’t secure the many weapons caches, depots, army bases etc. etc..  All of those mentioned would later go on to help fuel the insurgency.  When Gen. Shinseki testified before the invasion to congress that it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq he didn’t just pull the number out of the air.  He came up with the number based on the US Army’s extensive peacekeeping operations in the Balkans during the 90’s.  Rumsfeld famously lashed out at Shinseki replying that of course it would not take more troops to secure the peace than it did to win the war.  This statement by Rumsfeld showed to all his lack of understanding of modern war, unfortunately both Iraq and America paid for his ignorance.

The Surge

To say the American effort in Iraq was on life support in late 2006 is an understatement.  The American people were tired of the war and fed up with the administration’s oft-repeated line that the media only reported the bad things in Iraq (as if they were missing the real story of progress).  With democrats sweeping to power in congress things were definitely going to change in Iraq.  To most people’s surprise that change was an increase in troops and a change in strategy that called for securing the civilian population instead of remaining on base to avoid casualties.  This change in strategy called for new leadership so Gen. Casey was out as Multi-National Forces Commander Iraq to be replaced by Gen. Odierno.  Gen. Abizaid was also replaced by Gen. Petraeus as the CentCom Commander.  Finally Rumsfeld was replaced by Robert Gates as Sec. Def.. The results were dramatic and a situation that looked hopeless now showed some promise that Iraq might actually have a chance.  The US has only been out of Iraq for only a few short years so its hard to say whether the Iraqi government will continue to progress.  We do know that violence still occurs regularly in Iraq.  In looking at the surge and trying to assess its impact knowing that the final chapter about Iraq still is yet to be written I think its fair to say that the surge did not win the war in Iraq but it did prevent the US from losing it for the time being.

It was my hope to talk about other important events in Iraq like Fallujah, the Mahdi Militia and so on but for the sake of time I limited it to the invasion and the surge.  Tune in later this week as I finish the series as the question of whether the war was worth it is explored.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1169290/

Casualties of the Iraq War – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Iraq War 10 Years On Part II


020815-D-2987S-116

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

American Foreign Policy 30 Years In The Making Crumbles In Middle East


 

F-16's are just one of the many advaced weapon systems that American tax payers have provided to Egypt.

F-16’s are just one of the many advanced weapon systems that American tax payers have provided to Egypt.

 

Egypt, what can you say about it as you watch what is happening over there?  As we all watch Morsi grab for more power acting very much like the dictator he replaced, with talk of bringing Sharia Law to Egypt, the obvious conclusion here is that everything the US has tried to build on since the Camp David Accords is literally crumbling before our eyes.  The peace that the Carter administration (one of the few positives for them) brokered between Egypt and Israel, literally bought and paid for with your tax dollars to the tune of roughly about $2 billion a year for a little over 30 years looks to be in serious jeopardy.

Worse still comes the realization that much of that $2 billion every year has been spent arming Egypt with advanced US weaponry.  From Apache attack helicopters to M-1 tanks Egypt is now armed with some of the best weapons your tax dollars could buy.  So if this disaster in the making in Egypt maintains present course and leads to an Egypt less free, at odds with Israel, and armed with some of the best US weapons in the American arsenal can any sane individual not think of this as the total collapse of American foreign policy in the mid east?

Muslim
Brotherhood inherits U.S. war gear

http://bittsandbytes.net/MARCH2010/MARCH_28.html

Can America Trust Israel?


The Associated Press did a revealing story recently that exposed the Israelis as the worst US ally for spying on America.  What was disturbing about the story was how it seemed that Israel made it a point to let CIA officials know that Israel was spying on them almost taunting them.

“The CIA station chief opened the locked box containing the sensitive equipment he used from his home in Tel Aviv, Israel, to communicate with CIA headquarters in Virginia, only to find that someone had tampered with it. He sent word to his superiors about the break-in.

The incident, described by three former senior U.S. intelligence officials, might have been dismissed as just another cloak-and-dagger incident in the world of international espionage, except that the same thing had happened to the previous station chief in Israel.”

Some might read the above story and think it’s just the Israelis being aggressive, having a little fun.  Unfortunately the above was far from the only example, Israeli intelligence operations run the entire spectrum from spying on suspected terrorists in the US (which may be somewhat understandable) to industrial espionage, thats right they steal from us routinely.

“The CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency’s Near East Division, the group that oversees spying across the Middle East, according to current and former officials. Counterintelligence is the art of protecting national secrets from spies. This means the CIA believes that U.S. national secrets are safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel.”

The above quote is kind of a sad statement to make about an US ally that the story says has received about $60 billion in aid from US tax payers since the 1980’s.  I am generally a supporter of Israel but have also known about their extensive intelligence operations they have run against the US so to be honest I am glad someone is once again exposing them for what they do.  Its one thing to spy on some terrorist who happens to be in the US quite another to steal US military secrets about advanced fighter aircraft, missile defense technology, nuclear weapons and so on.  I believe its long past the time that we hold Israel accountable for their over zealous spying they do to us.

US Sees Israel as spy Threat