Gates Stays at DoD; Involved in Reagan’s Oct. Surprise?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I was very much for this move. I think the continuity is important and I thought Gates was a dedicated public servant.

Then I read this post from, of all places, the American Conservative:

Robert Parry of Consortium News is reporting that in 1992 the Russians turned over to the White House a secret report confirming that senior US officials and Reagan campaign staff met with Iranian officials in Europe during the summer of 1980. The meetings, since known as the October Surprise, were designed to delay the release of the American Embassy hostages in Iran until after the US elections, depriving President Jimmy Carter of a success that might have kept him in office…

…Parry is now reporting that current US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was also involved, according to the intelligence allegedly provided by the Russians. Gates was, at the time, a senior official in Carter’s National Security Council…

…Meeting clandestinely with the officials of a foreign country to come to an arrangement intended to influence the results of an election in the United States goes well beyond ordinary political shenanigans and makes Richard Nixon’s sins seem almost trivial.

To me, this is treason. And if it is factual, Gates should be arrested. But then, so should everyone involved, including George H.W. Bush. The funny thing about this is that this October Surprise has been talked about for a long time, but no one seems to have been punished for it, nor has Reagan’s star been dimmed.

I’ve always been puzzled by this. Reagan actually delayed the release of American hostages to help an election and he’s an American hero? He’s a criminal. Literally.

Honestly, I’m not sure I know the whole story, but I feel like I’ve read this many times. Is it a rumor? Fact? I’d like to know more.

If there is evidence, I am going to be sick. It’s bad enough that there are apologists for Bush’s criminality, and that Obama seems unwilling to press the issue, but we can’t just acknowledge this kind of disgraceful, unpunished law-breaking without repercussions to the validity of our laws and the moral and civic fiber of our country.

We are either a nation of laws or we are not.

Which is it?


Iraqi Cabinet Approves U.S. Withdrawal Plan

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It goes to their parliament now, but the agreement was approved almost unanimously by the cabinet and that, apparently, bodes well for parliamentary approval. If passed, all American troops will be out by the end of 2011. From the New York Times:

The draft approved Sunday requires coalition forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns by the summer of 2009 and from the country by the end of 2011. An earlier version had language giving some flexibility to that deadline, with both sides discussing timetables and timelines for withdrawal, but the Iraqis managed to have the deadline set in stone, a significant negotiating victory.

So is this surrender? Cause it smells like victory to me. I hope the neocons will accept it as such and stop trying to dishonor the work of our Armed Services by claiming otherwise. It’s disgraceful to belittle the progress they’ve made – enough that our presence is no longer thought necessary – by insisting that we haven’t won.* We should plan a big victory parade for our troops in 2011.

As for the future of Iraq, well, call me cynical, but I think there’s a lot more blood to be shed. I can’t pretend to know how it will turn out, especially Iran-wise, with all of their trouble, and the world in economic turmoil, but to me, it seems the likeliest conclusion that after a civil war a Shia strongman will rise and take Saddam-like control of the country (excluding the Kurds). In that event, we will actually be worse off than we were before the war.

I just hope that Bush and company will face punishment for their crimes. For the tens of thousands of lives lost and for the tens of thousands of wounded and for the millions who have lost their homes. As we unwind all of the foul corruption and dishonor of the Bush administration, we must make sure that those who are most responsible pay the heaviest price.

*Btw, I definitely want Joe Lieberman booted from his committee chair. Don’t care if he caucuses with the Dems or not, I want his downfall. The day he loses his Senate seat, I will drink a toast to his failure.

Sarah Palin’s Connection to Iran (Yes, Iran!)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

From Salon:

“My government is my worst enemy. I’m going to fight them with any means at hand.”

The quote is from Joe Vogler, the raging anti-American who founded the Alaska Independence Party. Inconveniently for Palin, that’s the very same secessionist party that her husband, Todd, belonged to for seven years and that she sent a shout-out to as Alaska governor earlier this year. (“Keep up the good work,” Palin told AIP members. “And God bless you.”)


Vogler wasn’t just a blowhard either. He put his secessionist ideas into action, working to build AIP membership to 20,000 — an impressive figure by Alaska standards — and to elect party member Walter Hickel as governor in 1990.

Vogler’s greatest moment of glory was to be his 1993 appearance before the United Nations to denounce United States “tyranny” before the entire world and to demand Alaska’s freedom. The Alaska secessionist had persuaded the government of Iran to sponsor his anti-American harangue.

That’s right … Iran. The Islamic dictatorship. The taker of American hostages. The rogue nation that McCain and Palin have excoriated Obama for suggesting we diplomatically engage. That Iran.

What is Sarah Palin’s response to this? Her husband was a member of a secessionist party with ties to Iran!

Talk about palling around. She was (and is) sleeping with a man who was actively engaged in treason.

Will Politics Destroy Our Military Victory in Iraq?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Of course. This is not even a question. We have won the war in Iraq. In recognition of this fact, the U.S. and the Iraqi government have agreed in principle to a time frame that gets all American troops out of the country by 2011 (basically, adopting Barack Obama’s plan). Our soldiers should be welcomed home as the heroes they are.

But what happens between now and then, and after that point, will determine if our victory holds. You can be assured that it will not. And this is the reason why W., McCain, and the rest of the neocons have made the biggest strategic mistake in our country’s history. They have won a war militarily that cannot be successfully resolved to our benefit. The Shiite-led Iraqi government is in bed with the Iranians. Already, they are going after the leaders of the Sunni Awakening movement that has been the largest part of the success of Petraeus’s strategy. By doing so, they will foment more chaos, more war, and drive the Sunni to terrorism, while bringing the Shia closer to Iran.

We must guard against the political mistakes of the Iraqi government and the American neocons. Our troops must not stand in the way of this civil war. We cannot afford the lives or the treasure. The battle now must be between the Iraqis. The “aspirational goal” of removing all troops by 2011, must come to pass. Get our troops out. They have done their job.

We have won the war, but we will lose the peace. This outcome, which we should all hope and pray will not happen, will be entirely the fault of the worst president in the history of our country, George W. Bush, and his neocon enablers, McCain now foremost among them.

Don’t let these men hold our troops hostage to the internal politics of Iraq. Bring our troops home and let the Iraqis fight the rest out for themselves.

Benny Morris and the Inevitable in Iran

Friday, July 18, 2008

The famed Israeli revisionist historian Benny Morris has penned a piece in the New York Times today basically stating that war with Iran is inevitable. Either Israel or America (more likely Israel) will bomb them, he predicts, in the Bush lame duck period between November 2, 2008 and January 20, 2009.

Israel, believing that Iran is building a bomb, is under intense pressure to launch an attack before Bush leaves office. This is a shame. The channels of diplomacy have not been given a chance to work. This timeframe is too short. Israel must hold off until real and serious negotiations can take place, likely after an Obama administration takes office. Provoking a broader war in the region that will certainly draw in the U.S. while America is still under the thumb of an despised and unpopular lame duck (who will support the attacks) may seriously backfire with the American people.

Will Israel be able to count on U.S support? Probably. But just how much is the question. In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve got plenty of troubles of our own, and Americans have no appetite for expanding our war in the Middle East. Bombing Iran will mean, truly, the beginning of full blown regional war.

Let’s not go there just because Bush is leaving office. If, as Morris states, the Iranian’s are really one to four years away from the point of no return, then we still have time to talk. On this front, it’s time for Bush and Olmert to get on the ball.

The Iran Policy Two-Step

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Could there be any greater acknowledgment that Barack Obama is right about talking to our enemies than the news that the Bush administration will send a high level diplomat (#3 at State, William J. Burns) to Geneva to meet with the Iranians?

Could there be any greater indication of the enormous opportunity cost of the previously childlike (and perfectly in character) Bush administration negotiating policy vis-a-vis Iran?

Could there be any more “welcome” a flip-flop by the Bush administration? My only fear is they will use this meeting as an excuse to say they tried negotiations and they failed, so we have to bomb.

Could there be a greater a second act revival than Condi Rice? No excuses for Condi’s terrible failures as National Security Adviser, but she is actually doing a pretty good job as Secretary of State. This must have been a difficult one to pull off and it will be interesting to hear how she did it.

Could there be a more uncomfortable position for John McCain (and the whole anti-appeasement crowd) to be in? He is now forced to defend a policy that every reasonable person knows is stupid and belligerent against the current administration and the next one.

Could there be any greater joy than is seeing John Bolton, Joe Lieberman, Dick Cheney and the rest of the neocons being made to look like jackasses by their former chief enabler?

Just asking.

Seymour Hersh and the War in Iran

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Reading Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker is like reading a spy novel crossed with the blind items on Gawker; lots of dangerous intrigue by politicians, soldiers, and spies, some anonymous gossip, and more than a hint of something still unknown. He’s really in a class by himself with this kind of reporting.

In his latest piece, Hersh travels in the murky areas of the intelligence community to reveal America’s covert operations in Iran and the push, largely by Cheney, to enhance those operations and, it seems, provoke a war. It’s a fascinating article, as all of his writing for the New Yorker has been, and worth reading.

The situation in Iran is a difficult one. For all the obvious reasons, America does not need a war with Iran. With that said, Iran is clearly dangerous and they cannot be allowed to make a nuclear weapon. The Bush/Cheney approach of using Special Ops and indigenous surrogates to carry out attacks and assassinations, according to the article, has met with some resistance from the military and intelligence communities. What has worked in other parts of the Middle East and Pakistan, may not work so well in Iran. So what to do?

Elect Obama President. The reason? He will try to negotiate a legitimate settlement of this issue. If someone actually goes to the Iranians without a belligerent stance (Bush demands that they halt enrichment work before negotiations can start), it might – might – settle the issue. And if it doesn’t? Well, then we know for sure, and the military option becomes legitimate.

After all, just consider all the time Bush has wasted in these years while Iran has continued to enrich uranium. Economists talks about opportunity costs. The entire Bush administration has been an astronomical opportunity cost, not least in our dealings with Iran.

Here’s Michael Schwirtz and Alan Cowell in the New York Times on the recent saber rattling.