Thursday, April 22, 2010

Planning to Fail in Afghanistan, pt 5: Planning to Fail in Afghanistan the Movie

Here is my presentation from this year's "Capital University Symposium on Undergraduate Research". My presentation was entitled "Moral Warfare in Southwest Asia," and it was based on the paper I wrote this past winter by the same name.

In other news, I was also awarded the Kenneth J. Martin award for scholarship by a senior in political science. The award is a real honor because both the nominations and voting come from the department faculty, so I must have made a few fans in the last 4 years. I guess I can now call myself an award winning political scientist.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Planning to Fail in Afghanistan, pt 4

Why would the chairman of the joint chiefs take time out of his schedule to warn of the dangers of attacking Iran?

I don't know, maybe because Obamais planning to attack Iran?

Once again, this is a terrible idea. Attacking Iran is the single best way for Obama to completly erase all of the public diplomacy bennefits of his election.

But I find it odd that so many signs point to an upcoming attack. This bears watching.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Planning to Fail in Afghanistan, pt 3

Mobile Blogging from here.

"I've seen the future, and it is murder."

--- Lenord Cohen

Is this story just another piece of idiot journalism from the NYT, or what?

I read this piece and I'm filled with a sense of both dejavu and a deep and unabiding sense of fear and loathing.

Suppose Obama is, indeed, planning to fail in Afghanistan. After he begins the pullout, then what? Does he go before the American people and just embrace defeat? After reading this article, reading Obama's nuclear posture review and seeing his circle jerk - er, "Nuclear Security Conference" - last week I'm wondering if there isn't an incredibly dumb yet surprsingly cohesive strategy in the whole thing: Barack Obama is going to win reelection by bombing Iran.

Sounds crazy, right?

But consider that perhaps things have not really gotten much better in Afghanistan. Consider that Obama has basically acquiesced to ISI/Taliban control of everything outside of Kabul. Consider that Obama then will be branded as mister "cut and run" by his opponent in 2012. Consider that Rambo is telling Obama that he's going to have to "triangulate" by getting tough on something and Iran is an easy target.

The more I think about it, the more sense bombing Iran probably makes to the increasingly vainglorious and strategicly tone- deaf crew we have running the policy shop at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave right now. The target package is fairly straight forward, and with a combination if cruise missile and B2 strike, coupled with a lingering campaign conducted via drones, a war against Iran must look like quit a splendid little war that we are certain to win- or at least end- in a really short time horizon.

Of course by losing Afghanistan and bombing Iran Obama will have completely erased all strategic rationale for his presidency. We will be no better off than if McCain/Palin had won and Obama's entire first/last term will have been a complete waist.

And the American people won't fall for it. Iran will squeeze whatever assets we have left in Afghanistan and Iraq and they'll do everything they can to escalate the adiministration into some kind of naval confrontation in the Gulf. It'll become clear pretty quickly that the attack achieved nothing and will probably hasten Iran's desire for a quick shoot just to prove that they still have a nuclear capacity.

And then Romney is going to have one hell of a mess on his hands January 21st, 2013.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This is what happens when you pal around with terrorists...

Everyone has seen this video, I'm sure. Everyone has also heard a lot of the bullshit emanating out of people like James Fallows, who is a serious journalist and should know better. He should never compare the acts of troops under fire to the torture that occurred at Abu Ghraib.

This is what I see: Two journalists got a lead on a hot story - they were going to have the chance to hang out with a group of Mahdi Army guys. At that moment, these particular insurgents were involved in a battle with the 1-8th and 2-16th of the American 2nd Infantry Division. The ground pounders called in air support, which was delivered via an Apache helicopter, and the helicopter crew made a call - the best call they could possibly make given the information at their disposal - to engage a group of armed men operating in a region where the ground units were reporting fire. The insurgents were armed with AKs and RPGs, which can be clearly scene in the video. Later, a unmarked black van appears, several men pile out of the van and picked what appeared to be a wounded insurgent and also begin collecting weapons. The aircrew then requests, and is given, the green light to destroy the unmarked van.

I don't see anything in this video that violates any sort of Rules of Engagement or Rules of Land Warfare. The black van was not marked with a red cross or a red crescent. The journalists did not report their position  to the U.S. Army ahead of time. To the best knowledge of both the ground units and the aircrew, all of these men were insurgents setting up an ambush in the path on an American infantry unit.

Being a war correspondent is risky. I have a great deal of respect for the men who do the job, but correspondents know the risk. They know - especially in an insurgency where the combatants don't wear uniforms - that they could be mistaken for insurgents themselves. They know - or should - that air power, mortars and artillery are all inherently indiscriminate and if you are standing beside a target you might get killed. While its a tragedy that these two journalists were killed in combat, it is not a war crime, and the ultimate responsibility for their death rests, not with the U.S. military - which as the video demonstrates goes out of its way to confirm a target before engaging - but with the journalists themselves, who willingly put themselves in harms way in pursuit of a story.