More notes from the international affairs desk

Some articles by Robert Baer on Time.com…
Bush’s latest intelligence report
Lebanon and Gaza

He hits on the porous borders – Europe,in this case – as the likely entry
point into the US for an al Qaeda attack. Not Iraq. It makes no sense,except
as propaganda and hype for the Bush Administration.

Bush’s quote directly:

"The question for our elected leaders is: Do we comprehend the danger of an
al-Qaeda victory in Iraq,and will we do what it takes to stop them? However
difficult the fight in Iraq has become,we must win it. Al-Qaeda is public
enemy number one for Iraq’s young democracy,and al-Qaeda is public enemy
number one for America,as well. And that is why we must support our troops,
we must support the Iraqi government,and we must defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq."

Al Qaeda is not the number one enemy of Iraq’s democracy – the violent divide
between Sunni and Shia is the number one enemy. Sunni disenfranchisement,Shia
death squads,etc.,these are quickly pushing the Maliki government into a
one-sided Shite regime. Victory against al Qaeda in Iraq is looking better
this week, but it is not due to American military action,it’s due to Sunni
rejection of al Qaeda tactics targeting their civilians. Nationalistic pride
will win out over al Qaeda’s foreign & extreme tactics.

Now, reports are coming out that America is going to start talking to some Sunni groups.
I don’t know if Bush is aware that this is a complete reversal of his
unilateral,idealistic preaching that led to the war. He should; and it’s about
time that more level-headed commanders and policy makers have been given the
chance to work on a solution to Iraq’s civil war that involves the people who
live and die there.

With the growing violence in Lebanon and Gaza,it just doesn’t seem like Bush
has any sort of handle or comprehension of peace in the Middle East. He
doesn’t see any of the Arab connections throughout these worn regions. I don’t
see how his policies will ever bring about any kind of democracy in the
aftermath of his war. Any democracy Iraq finds will be at their own,bloody
hands.

Once al Qaeda leaves Iraq,the country will continue to focus on its real
number one problem of fusing Shia,Sunni,and Kurdish groups into some
semblance of stability; this is the real victory that needs to be won in Iraq,
not our American egocentric and ignorant War on Terror.

from the notes file…

From CNN:

White House: Bin Laden wanted Iraq as a new base
. Bush declassifies intelligence saying bin Laden laid plans in 2005
. Bin Laden wanted to set up Iraq base for international attacks,White House says
. Plans involved two lieutenants — one later captured, one killed
. Revelation comes amid congressional efforts to end U.S. involvement in Iraq

President Bush on Tuesday declassified intelligence showing in 2005 Osama bin
Laden planned to use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks in the United
States,according to White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

"This shows why we believe al Qaeda wants to use Iraq as a safe haven," said
Johndroe. He added the president will talk about al Qaeda’s "strong interest
in using Iraq as a safe haven to plot and plan attacks on the United States
and other countries."

So…. What the fuck? Is this supposed to bolster support for the war in Iraq?
Of course al Qaeda wants into Iraq – it’s the front line against the United
States. This isn’t news,this isn’t classified material. And,let’s not
fucking forget,this is 2005,not 2001. This isn’t a justification for going
to war.

The notion that al Qaeda wants into Iraq to launch attacks against the actual
_land mass_ of the United States is fucking absurd. The likelyhood of any kind
of successful foreign attack by al Qaeda _in Iraq_ against targets at home is
extremely remote. Secondly,any likely terrorist attack on American soil is
going to come from within the United States through one of its more porous
borders, not from a fucking direct non-stop Delta flight from fucking Al
Anbar province. There is plenty of anit-American sentiment in plenty of regions that fall between the cracks of influence in the Middle East, plenty of places where al Qaeda can work. They’re kept safe through the neighbors,farmers,and lives that America has destroyed in its blind-target War on Terror.

Meanwhile,as Bush Doctrine’s tunnel vision focuses narrowly on the al Qaeda
problem,the war drudges on through civilian casualty streets. More American
style politics stirs up excluded Sunni extremists and counter-attacks by Shia
militias. Bush Doctrin would have you believe the problems in Iraq are simple,
and the outcomes logical. But decades of violent history throughout the Middle
East teach everyone else a very,very different lesson. Conflicts aren’t
fought by Axis and Allies,by Good vs. Evil. They are fought by extremist
factions that lie on multiple complex tangents of ethnic and religious
circles comprising not just Islamic armies,but neighborhoods,families and
friends,and children.

America fights wars against Terrorist Groups and Bush Doctrine pretends that
these are finite lines to be drawn for military action. In the aftermath of
the pinpoint strikes and surges are the corpses of all those families that
fit fuzzily into Bush Doctrine’s black and white view of the Middle East. His
desired outcome of savage force never seems to quite meet the peaceful bliss
of his ideal vision,but consistently turn him into the blind agressor who’s
propagating anti-American violence through every family in the Middle East.

older notes,for public storage.

Wolfowitz resigns. It’s likely that Gonzalez is going to face a vote of no confidence. The media likes to tack "non-binding" onto the headlines, instilling a sense of real unimportance to the American public.

What’s amazing is that the Bush administration still won’t compromise on the
Iraq war bill while Americans grow increasingly dissatisfied with the war and
with the administration. Bush is ignoring the pillars of neocon as they collapse under the weight of realistic effects and true Congressional oversight.

Americans haven’t really pushed Bush on this front,giving Republicans some
amount of leeway in supporting the ongoing war. Perhaps America is worn down
from a few years of polarized,anti-war movement to build an anti-Bush movement. Or,more likely,Bush is being rendered unimportant. An outgoing president bogged by long-term problems that will inevitably take down the next president as well.

Maybe I’d like to think that Americans have had enough of pulpit pundits
screaming fear and strength down their throats,and as the next election comes
closer we’ll see more bipartisanship work in Congress as it deals with Iraq,
Immigration,and the housing/sub-prime market dragging the US down into a
possible recession.

An anti-polarizing sentiment in America would hurt Clinton as she stands right
now. I tend to see her attempting to focus on specific issues and her
policies,rather than fight with words against someone as eloquent as Obama.
It’s the only way she can really win an argument in his presence. It’s also
wise to talk specific policies rather than get into a more general,Democratic
Party rhetoric which would be seen as not only polarizing,but would play to
Hillary’s divisive character. Remember,this is about image,and she needs to
avoid her image.

How could Hillary align herself now to prepare for an anti-polarizing general
election?

How about the Republicans? In comparison,the democratic population is
satisfied with the current selection of candidates. The Republican field has
gaping holes in what’s considered of the typical Republican. Giuliani’s
liberal social ideas,Romney’s cult… Though McCain seems like the one true
fit to the stereotype,the disapproval of the Iraq War hits him square in the
face. Personally,and I don’t know how this pans out for the Republican voting
public,McCain’s changed a lot of positions throughout his career – most
recently pandering to the religious right in what seems to be an obvious plea
to its voting bloc. Those that might be put off by Romney should naturally
gravitate to McCain, which they’re not necessarily. Is this because they don’t
buy McCain’s faith?

And that’s a funny statement right there, questioning someone like McCain’s
faith. I’m quite sure McCain has a long,solid relationship with Jesus Christ. I find McCain’s story a sad one… Someone who should stand out as an American Hero,in the old sense of John Wayne,solidarity in person. A veteran,a P.O.W. with a keen sense of morality and judgement. He remains pro-life,but I get the sense from McCain that he’s actually _thought_ about the consequences of his position as a politician,rather than a one-sided straight-ticket party stance or blind-faith religious stance.

I can’t comment on what other people really feel about McCain. But I for one
feel a great amount of disappointment. He faltered in establishing himself as
a lone figure in a sea of faceless political automatons. A real Clint Eastwood
flavor,holding his six-shooters in the desert,looking off into the far
distance. His return to the religious right indicated a balking at the
prospect of losing His Chance at the presidency. His unphased support for Bush
policies aligns him with the terrible aftermath of the neocons and of a decaying,indefinite war in Iraq.

What _will_ be interesting is whether Newt Gengrich joins,and how well he
does. If the Republican voting base is looking for a Bush replacement,or
looking for a new direction. There’s evidence of a readiness to put behind the
faith-based foreign policy and heed some modicum of consequence at hawkish
foreign policy. Since none of the candidates are really to the taste of the
Republican voting base at the moment,it’s hard to tell what they’re really
looking for. And with the Bush approval consistently low,it doesn’t seem
likely that another Bush Administration is really what anyone wants either.

What does look likely is that the Republican party is fractured on two or more
lines: the religious right,anti-Iraq Republicans, Thompson/Reaganites…
lines derived from divergent priority issues within the party. Was this a
characteristic of Kerry’s campaign? 2006 was fairly soley about Iraq; both
parties were quite adamant about what they wanted and the Republican
candidates weren’t ready to embrace an anti-Bush stance.

The next election will have slightly more subtlety as Americans won’t tolerate
indecisive action towards Iraq through the fall of 2007,much less through an
election and into the next presidency. The democrats,if they’re still high
and mighty on the anti-Bush,anti-Iraq campaign march,will probably lose a
general election. Especially if benchmarks,timetables,and/or progress is
made in Iraq. And especially if Bernanke comes out with an official word on
recession in fall 2007,putting economy up high on the list of issues for an
08 primary season.

Nancy pelosi has it dead on:

"I know what the president is saying," Pelosi said. "He is saying,’I don’t
want any accountability. Just give me a blank check for a war without end.
Don’t have the Iraqi government held accountable for not having political
solutions while our young people die.’ That’s what the president is saying. I
hear it very clearly."

More outcomes of the Bush Doctrine. The Neocons were Democrats. Karl Rove Subpoena’d…

The experts are exclaiming catastrophe. Pullout from Iraq will implode into a full-scale terrorism state,sending oil into three-digit rates.

The Decider states a simple equation,and its other side is the conclusion that we must win,that leaving is defeat for the weak…

A too-early pullout from Iraq leaves absolute fear & religion & hatred in command with their guns in dominant control,and the prevention of this is the presence of American troops as cannon fodder,a buffer of casualties offered up to the underlying rage and reason of the Iraqis,Arabs,Muslims,and Al Qaeda… We set up a front line to cover the horrifying underlying tensions Saddam Hussein kept in check with a vicious dictatorship. Where he used fear & military rule,we use our troops as an alternative target. How long,oh Lord,will America hold out? When will the levee break? Or have we seen the level of civil war brimming over into the Green Zone with lackluster principles of security as a warning shot to the Bush Doctrine? That realities exist and consequences real to our leaders’ idealistic firebrand speech…

Rally the Troops,and remember,the World is Safer Now than it Was Before.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.