Reliable neocon and neo-Thatcherite Anne Applebaum goes for Obama. Although her reasoning is so muddled it defies understanding.
"In this week's interview, Senator McCain did not rule in or rule out a White House meeting with President Zapatero, a NATO ally," he said in an e-mail. "If elected, he will meet with a wide range of allies in a wide variety of venues but is not going to spell out scheduling and meeting location specifics in advance. He also is not going to make reckless promises to meet America's adversaries. It's called keeping your options open, unlike Senator Obama, who has publicly committed to meeting some of the world's worst dictators unconditionally in his first year in office."
Two things: Is Scheunemann calling Zapatero one of the world's worst dictators? And does he - again, McCain's top foreign policy advisor - not know that Jose Luis Zapatero is Spain's Prime Minister not "president"? (Spain's head of state is King Juan Carlos.)
Then again, neocon foreign policy experts take pride in being ignorant of foreign policy details.
I suppose none of this should be surprising since George won't even take phone calls from the Spanish leader.
Who in their right mind would want four more years of this childish bullshit?
This won't go down well:
Several Russian ships and 1,000 soldiers will take part in joint naval maneuvers with Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea later this year, exercises likely to increase diplomatic tensions with Washington, a pro-government newspaper reported on Saturday.
Chavez, who buys billions of dollars of weapons from Russia, has criticized this year's reactivation of the U.S. Navy's Fourth Fleet, which will patrol Latin America for the first time in over 50 years.
The only explanation I was able to come up with when the Fourth Fleet was reactivated was that it was meant to threaten Venezuela, so this response would be a natural progression.
To the neocons and the Cold War nostalgists the creation of new enemies and the heightening of strategic tensions is a feature, not a bug.
I think Josh gets Georgian leader Mikhail Saakashvili right:
I know there are a lot of people out there whose sense of personal grandiosity wants to puff this guy up into some sort of world historical figure. But he's trouble. And to our great national misfortune the same cabal responsible for scheming the US into Iraq is working hand and glove with him to pull this country into deeper misfortune. And one of them might be president in 6 months.
Writing in this morning's WaPo, Nixon Center director and former Bush adviser Paul J. Saunders offers a corrective to all the nonsense we've been hearing about Georgia's Brave Little Democrat.
Like Josh says, the guy is trouble.
And perhaps somebody in the "news" media should ask St. John about his top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, who was (is?) a paid agent of Georgia's.
But they won't. Determining whether Hawaii is "exotic" or not is much more important.
First, claim that the whole business is too complicated for "us" to understand. (Nonsense. Iran-Contra was a complex series of crimes and cock-ups, but it wasn't in any way complicated.) Then, hang your hat on the Great Men Of Washington -- the Tower Commission, or the Inouye committee -- to kill the whole thing slowly by euphemism. Eliminate the possibility of strict constitutional remedy; Mark Hertsgaard's On Bended Knee is the ur-text for this one. Nobody much wanted to investigate, let alone impeach, kindly ol' Dutch Reagan. Then, declare that the "American people" have grown bored with the whole business, and take some potshots at poor, stonewalled Lawrence Walsh as you're doing so. Then, when George Schultz's diaries emerge, and they pretty much vindicate everything that Walsh's people had been trying to get at, and then Poppy Bush pardons everyone except Shoeless Joe Jackson on the way out the door, declare that the whole matter is ancient history and that "the country" has moved on. And then, 20 years later, when the same crew lies, cheats, and bungles on an even more massive scale, pronounce yourself mystified at how the whole thing happened. This is the Gulf Of Tonkin revelation in real time, and while we all still have time to do something about it. But, what the hell, what do you think Hillary wants?
Uhhh...this is kind of a major story:
Defense Department counterintelligence investigators suspected that Iranian exiles who provided dubious intelligence on Iraq and Iran to a small group of Pentagon officials might have "been used as agents of a foreign intelligence service ... to reach into and influence the highest levels of the U.S. government," a Senate Intelligence Committee report said Thursday.
So what was the response?
A top aide to then-secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, shut down the 2003 investigation into the Pentagon officials' activities after only a month, and the Defense Department's top brass never followed up on the investigators' recommendation for a more thorough investigation, the Senate report said.
Shut down the investigation?
It gets better:
The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator.
The aborted counterintelligence investigation probed some Pentagon officials' contacts with Iranian exile Manucher Ghorbanifar, whom the CIA had labeled a "fabricator" in 1984. Those contacts were brokered by an American civilian, Michael Ledeen, a former Pentagon and National Security Council consultant and a leading advocate of invading Iraq and overthrowing Iran's Islamic regime.
Michael Ledeen would be one of the craziest neocons, Iran-Contra criminal (when we sold weapons to our mortal enemy Iran) and "Freedom Scholar" (whatever the hell that means) at the American Enterprise Institute.
Read the whole article - it actually gets worse.
It wouldn't surprise me in the least if the whole damned war was an Iranian operation. After all, they're the real winners of this clusterfuck.
Our old pal Max Boot is back on the pages of the LATimes, if only for a one-shot. Today, (yesterday, actually) Max comes to praise St. John not bury him. But first, Max gives us a setup:
Some conservatives are having conniptions over the rise of John McCain as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Personally, I am less interested in what Rush Limbaugh, Tom DeLay or Ann Coulter think than I am in the views of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar Assad and Kim Jong Il.
Max goes on to suggest we should call this terrible trio the new "axis of evil" but with Syria replacing that blooming democracy known as Iraq. And indeed, after explaining all the naughty things those naughty axis-of-evilers are doing, Max turns to the naughty things they are doing in Iraq - after mentioning, of course, just what a swell place that benighted country has become. But Max allows his sunny outlook to be polluted by some dissonance:
Clearly, these rogue regimes do not fear the consequences of waging a proxy war on America and our allies. They think they can get away with killing and maiming American soldiers -- and so far they have been right.
President Bush has not done enough to back up his threats against Iran and Syria, beyond pushing for economic sanctions of limited value at a time when oil is hitting $100 a barrel. The president has refused to authorize even limited special operations strikes on jihadist networks inside Syria or Iran.
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Max calling for acts of war in that last sentence? Why yes, yes he is. But first:
This is part of a larger trend of Bush combining strong words with weak actions.
Noconservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed. And the failure, friends, is George W. Bush. This make Max sad and he's now forced to find someone new, someone who will fulfill his war fantasies:
It is hard to see how Bush could reverse this decline in America's "fear factor" during the remaining year of his presidency. That will be the job of the next president. And who would be the most up to the task?
Whoever could be up to the task? Who? Who? Ahhhh...
To answer that question, ask yourself which presidential candidate an Ahmadinejad, Assad or Kim would fear the most. I submit it is not Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or Mike Huckabee. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, the leading candidate to scare the snot out of our enemies is a certain former aviator who has been noted for his pugnacity and his unwavering support of the American war effort in Iraq. Ironically, John McCain's bellicose aura could allow us to achieve more of our objectives peacefully because other countries would be more afraid to mess with him than with most other potential occupants of the Oval Office -- or the current one.
That's it! Elect St. John and the regimes in Iran, Syria, and North Korea will vacate power and turn themselves in to be tried and found guilty of being very naughty indeed.
And if they don't, well, St. John jsut might sing his favorite song.
Americaâs image in the Middle East is as low as it has ever been. With the occupation of Iraq; the Israeli bombing of Lebanon; and Abu Ghraib and GuantÃ¡namo Bay, the United States has been cited in polls as the gravest threat to peace in the region. But Iran is different, even the Iran of someone like Mr. Gorbani, who works in a fundamentalist gift shop.
Generally speaking, Iranians like Americans â not just American products, which remain very popular, but Americans. That is not entirely new: Iranians on an individual level have long expressed a desire to restore relations between the countries. But the sentiment seems much more out in the open now.
Unfortunately, the neocons and other assorted "tough guys" (I'm looking at you, John McCain) see this as proof-positive that the Iranian people will cheer a rain of American bombs falling on their country.
That is why, Western diplomats in Iran said, the best thing Washington could do to encourage more moderate behavior in Tehran would be to ease off. Less pressure would make it harder for Iran’s leaders to keep out Western influences.
“Take the foot off the gas,” said a diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to antagonize the Iranians.
That the "Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran" crowd is too deluded - or simply uncaring - to see this will remain a worry for at least the next 341 days.
Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial, ubiquitous Iraqi politician and one-time Bush administration favorite, has re-emerged as a central figure in the latest U.S. strategy for Iraq.
His latest job: To press Iraq's central government to use early security gains from the surge to deliver better electricity, health, education and local security services to Baghdad neighborhoods. That's the next phase of the surge plan. Until now, the U.S. military, various militias, insurgents and some U.S. backed groups have provided those services without great success.
Chalabi "is an important part of the process," said Col. Steven Boylan, Petraeus' spokesman. "He has a lot of energy."
Never mind that Chalabi, among other things, is suspected of spying for Iran. He's the neocon's boy until the end.
As a side note, the Col. Steven Boylan mentioned above had a bizarre e-mail exchange with Glenn Greenwald yesterday. Col. Boylan might not be all that right in the head.
Sorry for the "Times $$$elect" link but Krugman:
The hysteria of the neocons over the prospect that Mr. Libby might actually do time for committing perjury was a sight to behold. In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal titled “Fallen Soldier,” Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University cited the soldier’s creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” He went on to declare that “Scooter Libby was a soldier in your — our — war in Iraq.”
Ah, yes. Shuffling papers in an air-conditioned Washington office is exactly like putting your life on the line in Anbar or Baghdad. Spending 30 months in a minimum-security prison, with a comfortable think-tank job waiting at the other end, is exactly like having half your face or both your legs blown off by an I.E.D.
As a reminder, the result of the war:
Think about it, Mr. Ajami.
Takeover by Hamas Illustrates Failure of Bush's Mideast Vision
Let's jump into the Wayback Machine and set the dial to 1997:
In a paper for an Israeli think tank, the same think tank for which Wurmser, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith prepared the famous “Clean Break” paper in 1996, Wurmser wrote in 1997 : “The residual unity of the nation is an illusion projected by the extreme repression of the state.” After Saddam, Iraq would “be ripped apart by the politics of warlords, tribes, clans, sects, and key families,” he wrote. “Underneath facades of unity enforced by state repression, [Iraq’s] politics is defined primarily by tribalism, sectarianism, and gang/clan-like competition.” Yet Wurmser explicitly urged the United States and Israel to “expedite” such a collapse. “The issue here is whether the West and Israel can construct a strategy for limiting and expediting the chaotic collapse that will ensue in order to move on to the task of creating a better circumstance.”
Whatever George's "vision" was is irrelevant; the people pulling the strings have long wanted a pan-Arab civil war.
Everybody in the "news" media acts with surprised sorrow over what's happening in the Middle East but the neocons have long been open about what they want; they're "vision" has been hiding in plain sight all along.
Would that we have some reporters in the SCLM who understand that.
Understandably anxious to counter the myth that we went into Iraq on the basis of his agency's faulty intelligence, Tenet seeks to substitute another myth: that the decision to remove Saddam Hussein resulted from the nefarious influence of the vice president and a cabal of neoconservative intellectuals. To advance that idea, a theme of his book, he has attributed to me, and to others, statements that were never made.
Careful readers will see at once that what Tenet calls "corroboration" is nothing of the sort. But Tenet is not a careful reader -- a serious deficiency in a CIA director and a catastrophe for an intelligence organization. Indeed, sloppy analysis and imprecision with evidence got Tenet and the rest of us stuck in a credibility gap that continues to damage our foreign policy.
I'm not about to defend George Tenet - I do the opposite, in fact - but for Richard Perle to attack Tenet for the failure of the Iraq plan is too rich.
Perhaps the two of them should settle this spat with shivs once they're in prison.
Comb-Licker has a problem:
Friday evening, the committee was debating whether to explicitly recommend that Wolfowitz resign, according to the sources, who spoke on condition they not be named, citing an ongoing probe into leaks.
Wolfowitz is finished.
Mr. Feith, the former under secretary of defense, said he had no recollection of any request by his office to have Ms. Riza hired. The office of Mr. Wolfowitz said it had insufficient information to be able to comment on short notice.
Doug Feith...Doug Feith...that name sounds familiar. Oh, right:
Fifteen hundred people report to Feith in the Pentagon, where he is known for the profligacy of his policy suggestions. Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, has been much quoted as calling Feith “the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth,” apparently for ideas he proposed to Franks and his planners.
SAIC must be very proud.
Onward and upward, I say. Since the Notorious Comb-Licker and his squeeze are in a peck of ethical and possibly criminal trouble they have surely "lawyered-up," as the kids say. I wonder what lawyer would take a case like this...
Victoria Toensing, a lawyer representing Ms. Riza, said this evening that Ms. Riza went to Iraq as a volunteer and took a leave of absence from the World Bank, paying for her own benefits while she was on leave.
DING! DING! DING! The same Victoria Toensing who most recently slandered Valerie Plame before the House Intelligence Committee. digby:
Toensing's testimony was extremely difficult to listen to. She is an arrogant gorgon and lies as easily as she breathes. Waxman even said at the end that he knows her testimony was inaccurate and that he was going to leave the record open to correct all of her misstatements.
This is a very bad bunch of people.
ADDED: Aravosis: "That's your tax dollars at work. Helping get senior Bush officials laid." Heh.
The Pentagon ordered a U.S. contractor to hire a World Bank employee and girlfriend of then-Pentagon No. 2 Paul Wolfowitz in 2003 for work related to Iraq, the contractor said on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for Science Applications International Corp., or SAIC, said the Defense Department's policy office directed the company to enter a subcontract with Shaha Riza, under which she spent a month studying ways to form a government in Iraq.
They certainly do take care of their own.
Ruth Wedgwood thinks everybody is being silly by being concerned that Paul Wolfowitz was shoveling money to his squeeze, Shaha Ali Riza:
But this does not excuse a mob mentality that abuses the reputation of a particular female professional, much less a bank president. The internal documents released last week — at Wolfowitz's request — show that this slow-moving institution had no protocol for figuring out how to accommodate the career of a professional woman when her spouse or partner came to work in the same chain of command. This is becoming a more serious problem in today's workplace.
According to the documents on the bank's website, it was the ethics committee's own idea — not Wolfowitz's — to give Riza a promotion as she was being moved out for four years. She was transferred to the State Department to work on a grass-roots democracy project that has been praised by Secretary Condoleezza Rice. She was given the mid-range salary for her new level. This was a lot of money, but it was based on the bank's existing pay scales.
It was certainly not a corrupt favor to a girlfriend.
The Riza issue has come back to haunt Wolfowitz, as the bank's executive board is now considering what to do about revelations -- contained in documents it released Friday -- that Wolfowitz resolved the issue by personally arranging a bank salary and promotions for her in a temporary State Department post.
Wolfowitz has clashed with the staff over pay packages and authority he gave to aides Robin Cleveland and Kevin Kellems, whom he brought to the bank from the White House, installed in senior positions and rewarded with open-ended contracts and quarter-million-dollar, tax-free salaries, despite their lack of development experience.
Both staff and management also have raised concerns over what several described as Wolfowitz's insistence that the bank accelerate its lending to Iraq and open an office there. [Emphasis added.]
The LATimes identifies Wedgwood as a "professor of international law and diplomacy at Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies" but as we've seen with another prominent newspaper those identifiers can be deceiving.
In fact, Wedgwood can fairly be called a hardcore neocon:
"She was recently appointed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a member of the Defense Policy Board, giving long-range strategy advice to the Secretary. She has consulted with the Department of Defense since September 11 on law of war issues, including the rules for conducting military commissions to try the war crimes of al Qaeda's terrorist combatants. She was also appointed by Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet to serve on the CIA's Historical Review Committee.
Anyway, the point here is that news organizations should reveal potential biases of those they publish. Wedgwood's close ties to the BushCheney administration are relevant.
...always a corrupt neocon:
Paul Wolfowitz was under pressure to resign as president of the World Bank on Thursday after admitting he was personally involved in securing a large pay rise and promotion for a Bank official with whom he was romantically involved.
The Bank president issued a public apology, saying: “I made a mistake for which I am sorry”.
The apology came after the Financial Times revealed that Mr Wolfowitz ordered the World Bank’s head of human resources to offer Shaha Riza the pay rise and promotion as part of a secondment package.
I guess being the architect of a disastrous war just wasn't enough.
A classic Wolfowitz moment:
Showing the planet that they're "tiny and we're not" really does sum up, almost completely, the entire neoconservative compulsion, which is the same thing as neoconservatism itself. As I've noted before, they talk about every foreign policy issue with themes of dominance, submission and humiliation as the centerpiece. It's the Abu Grahib Theory of Foreign Affairs, and it actually is quite uncomfortable even to read.
They always want war not for any ideological or geopolitical reason, but because war (or at least compelling submission through the threat of war) is the only real hard-core way to -- as Newt put it -- "show the planet that you're tiny and we're not." If you review any of their foreign policy arguments about war and terrorism, this is the sentiment animating all of it.
A quick look around the wingersphere demonstrates this quite nicely. The fact is, every dispute that doesn't end in piles of charred bodies is a humiliating defeat for the US.
While Glenn specifically doesn't go there, it does make one wonder about the psychology of these people. To call them "disturbed" would be an understatement.
The top US commander in Iraq has requested another Army brigade, in addition to five already on the way, as part of the controversial "surge" of American troops designed to clamp down on sectarian violence and insurgent groups, senior Pentagon officials said yesterday.
The appeal -- not yet made public -- by General David Petraeus for a combat aviation unit would involve between 2,500 and 3,000 more soldiers and dozens of transport helicopters and powerful gunships, said the Pentagon sources. That would bring the planned expansion of US forces to close to 30,000 troops.
"There is a problem in the way the administration reported the surge numbers to begin with," said Frederick W. Kagan , a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "When they initially reported the numbers they only reported the combat strength of the brigades, and they did not count support troops" and other personnel that the operation would need.
"Petraeus has now requested what many thought would be needed to begin with," Kagan said, "but it looks like another surge."
Kagan is the co-author of the "surge" plan so it's a bit rich for him to complain now. Just five days ago his brother and fellow neocon Robert took to the pages of the WaPo to proclaim the "surge" a success:
Leading journalists have been reporting for some time that the war was hopeless, a fiasco that could not be salvaged by more troops and a new counterinsurgency strategy. The conventional wisdom in December held that sending more troops was politically impossible after the antiwar tenor of the midterm elections. It was practically impossible because the extra troops didn't exist. Even if the troops did exist, they could not make a difference.
Four months later, the once insurmountable political opposition has been surmounted. The nonexistent troops are flowing into Iraq. And though it is still early and horrible acts of violence continue, there is substantial evidence that the new counterinsurgency strategy, backed by the infusion of new forces, is having a significant effect.
Does no one else notice that these idiots are just making it up as they go along? They. Have. No. Plan.
The whole Iraq clusterfuck should be called "Operation Protect My Manhood."
It's time to consider a stake through the heart, cutting off the head, burying what's left, and salting the ground. Why? Because the Neocons are back:
But now, a small but increasingly influential group of neocons are again helping steer Iraq policy. A key part of the new Iraq plan that President Bush is expected to announce next week — a surge in U.S. troops coupled with a more focused counterinsurgency effort — has been one of the chief recommendations of these neocons since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
This group — which includes William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard magazine, and Frederick W. Kagan, a military analyst at a prominent think tank, the American Enterprise Institute — was expressing concerns about the administration's blueprint for Iraq even before the invasion almost four years ago.
The neoconservative group had been the driving force in Washington behind a move against Iraq, even before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They saw Hussein as a lingering threat to world security — a view bolstered within the administration following 9/11. And they argued that transforming Iraq into a democracy could serve as a model to remake the Middle East's political dynamics.
It's possible that never before in this nation's history has a more fanatical yet incompetent group wielded such power. Everything, everything, the Neocons have touched has turned into a disaster. And yet we can't rid ourselves of them no matter how discredited they are.
It's like a bad movie.