Archive for December, 2008

December 22, 2008

By Joe Klein

“Things have gotten a bit hairy,” admitted British Lieut. Colonel Graeme Armour as we sat in a dusty, bunkered NATO fortress just outside the city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, a deadly piece of turf along Afghanistan’s southern border with Pakistan. A day earlier, two Danish soldiers had been killed and two Brits seriously wounded by roadside bombs. The casualties were coming almost daily now.



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By Mark Ames,

Posted on December 13, 2008, Printed on December 13, 2008
(This article was published in the final issue of Radar magazine, which was bought out and shuttered just as this issue went to print. This is the first online publication of this article. It has been updated by the author.)

Tskhinvali, South Ossetia — On the sunny afternoon of August 14, a Russian army colonel named Igor Konashenko is standing triumphantly at a street corner at the northern edge of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, his forearm bandaged from a minor battle injury. The spot marks the furthest point of the Georgian army’s advance before it was summarily crushed by the Russians a few days earlier. “Twelve Georgian battalions invaded Tskhinvali, backed by columns of tanks, armored personal carriers, jets, and helicopters,” he says, happily waving at the wreckage, craters, and bombed-out buildings around us. “You see how well they fought, with all their great American training — they abandoned their tanks in the heat of the battle and fled.”


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From today’s of London:

The West is indirectly funding the insurgency in Afghanistan thanks to a system of payoffs to Taleban commanders who charge protection money to allow convoys of military supplies to reach NATO bases in the south of the country.

In case it’s slipped your memory, the strategy of the current Administration, and the next, is to add more combat troops.

[Thanks to Sven Ortmann for the tip!]

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By William S. Lind
December 8, 2008

Panglissading through reality, the New York Times recently offered the sort of thoughtlessness sunny picture of the Obama administration’s security policy that lulls children to sleep but leaves adults restlessly wakeful. In a front-page story on December 1, “A Handpicked Team for a Foreign Policy Shift” by David Sanger, the Times reported that the new administration’s key national security policy appointees

were selected in large part because they have embraced a sweeping shift of resources in the national security arena.

The shift, which would come partly out of the military’s huge budget, would create a greatly expanded corps of diplomats and aid workers that, in the vision of the coming Obama administration, would be engaged in projects around the world aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states.

Whether they can make the change…”will be the great foreign policy experiment of the Obama presidency,” one of his senior advisors said recently.

In the best Christmas spirit of my old friend Mr. Scrooge, I will spoil the story by spilling the ending up front. The “great foreign policy experiment” will fail.

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by Chuck Spinney
10 December 2008

My good friend Pierre Sprey forwarded this amazing quote by Vice Admiral Bill Gortney. Pierre’s comments are in BLUE and Vice Adm Gortney’s comments are in italics. My comments follow and are so marked.

An utterly convincing testimonial, from an expert witness with flawless credentials, regarding the benefits of quality over quantity for the fleet:

“The U.S. commander in charge of the waters off Somalia, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, told CNN on Monday that he thought it would take a force of 61 warships to safeguard the sea lanes just in the Gulf of Aden, compared with the 14 international ships now patrolling off the Horn of Africa. If the U.S. Navy alone had to provide a force that size, it would take every destroyer and cruiser in the fleet, plus three frigates. ( Navy Times, 12/09/08 )”

Pierre continues: In other words, the USN’s pursuit of ever more “capable” ships has provided America with a fleet that is incapable of handling the Somali pirates.

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December 3, 2008

The Defense Budget as Hamburger Stand

What’s Wrong with the U.S. Military



Coinciding with the arrival of Obama and his deputies in Washington, the Center for Defense Information is releasing “America’s Defense Meltdown — Pentagon Reform for President Obama and the New Congress,” a primer on what is wrong with our defense system written by men with long and honorable experience in the bowels of the military services and Pentagon bureaucracy. The book’s editor, Winslow Wheeler is familiar to readers of this site for his acrid and knowledgeable commentaries on the defense establishment. CounterPuncher Andrew Cockburn interviews him about the book and its message.


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Well, nearly live.

Here’s an excellent summary of John Robb’s presentation plus an mp3 of mine on the Global Dashboard blog.


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