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Posts Tagged ‘military hierarchy’

".. Bush never sought regime change in Damascus. Some in Beirut did .."

December 16th, 2010 Comments off

“… That’s no doubt true, however it is equally true, with the benefit of hindsight, that the Bush administration never sought regime change in Damascus. Some in Beirut did, but Washington never seriously pursued such a foolhardy project, nor did it indicate the contrary. How would the US have changed the regime of President Bashar Assad anyway? Presumably, it would have had to send into Syria the American armed forces, namely those stationed in neighboring Iraq. But as we now know from countless sources, including Bob Woodward’s 2006 book “State of Denial,” the thinking at the Pentagon went in precisely the opposite direction. From the start, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld saw Iraq as a short-term venture for the armed forces – a matter of a few months .. The military hierarchy knew that President George W. Bush’s declaration of an end to combat operations in Iraq was a farce. Therefore, it also grasped that there was a hard slog ahead. Not only was there no appetite in Washington to expand the war to Syria, there was no intention from the military in Baghdad to permit such a slide…. Proponents of the regime-change theory might respond that even if the Bush administration was not plotting to overthrow Assad through force, it was looking to set up the conditions for a domestic upheaval, perhaps a coup. Possibly. But that doesn’t qualify as regime change. Nor does it take into account the strangely resilient conviction in Washington that, for all its shortcomings, Assad’s rule is better than a Sunni-led Islamist alternative…. As Feltman once explained in an interview, “[T]hose of us working most closely on the Lebanon file focused on not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.”… The Syrians were well aware of American thinking – of the Bush administration’s willingness to allow a continuation of their presence in Lebanon, albeit on the country’s periphery. That helps explain their calculations when deciding what to do about Hariri. But one thing it also did was reassure Assad that he could maneuver. Rather than assuming that his regime was under threat, he grasped by early 2005 that the US and France were willing to cut him some slack in Beirut…. Jumblatt has described the diplomatic information released by WikiLeaks as proof of the failed US policies in the Middle East. In retrospect, we now know that the Americans had more pressing goals in the region than replacing Syria’s leadership. Jumblatt, who says he is relieved to be with Syria again, should thank them for their failure.”

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"End game"

May 25th, 2010 Comments off
barack_obama_attends_a_briefing_on_afghanistan_in_the_situation_room_of_the_white_house

FB Ali via SST/ here

The players involved in the conflict in Afghanistan have all concluded that neither side can achieve a military victory and that it will end in some other way, probably through a negotiated solution. Since each of them has different goals, this end game is likely to be both confusing and complicated……

The mainstream viewpoint in the US administration, espoused by Secretary Gates and the military hierarchy, accepts the inevitability of a negotiated settlement but wants one that preserves a friendly government in Kabul that continues to lean on the US for support. If Taliban participation is unavoidable, it must be as limited as possible. They believe the insurgency has not yet been weakened enough to accept this kind of a settlement, and thus further military action is necessary. Hence the forthcoming Kandahar operation, as well as renewed pressure on Pakistan to complete the military takeover of its tribal areas. President Obama is going along with this policy for now but does not appear committed to it; he could abandon it if the approach does not work as successfully as its proponents promise.

Another school of thought in the administration (possibly including VP Biden) could be termed the minimalist position: it would agree to any kind of a negotiated settlement between the Afghan parties that would enable the US to get out of there expeditiously. They would like Hamid Karzai to pursue this option as soon as possible and get the best deal he can. There is also still a maximalist position in the US, advanced by those groups who believe the US should dominate the world with its military power, and who were the original backers of the Iraq and Afghan wars. This group advocates the continuation of the war until the Taliban are defeated and al-Qaeda is eradicated from the region. Its supporters in the administration maintain a low profile since this position is unlikely to ever become administration policy. (continue/ here)

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Afghan war ‘probably illegal, certainly immoral’

November 15th, 2009 Comments off

In a classic case of partisan journalism, Rupert Murdoch’s London tabloid The Sun harangued the UK Prime Minister after it was revealed that a condolence letter which Gordon Brown had penned (in his own hand) spelled the addressee’s name wrong. The recipient, the mother of a British soldier killed in Afghanistan, was evidently upset, prompting the Tory-supporting paper’s well-timed outrage. (A by-election in Glasgow was then underway; held Nov. 12, returning Labour as the victor.)

One letter writer to the Guardian (UK) has a response worth quoting:

… The exploitation of the bereaved by the media, politicians and the military hierarchy poses a serious threat to a rational debate about the Afghan disaster. As public opposition to the war climbs, the apologists claim it is because the Labour government is not doing enough to support the war with helicopters and armour-plating. This is a perversion of the views of the majority, who believe that the war itself is wrong, probably illegal and certainly immoral…

Bill Major
Liverpool (link)

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