Friday, June 20, 2014

There Ain't No Good Guys

 --Middle East Countries, 
Arend Van Dam

 So let's leave it alone 'cause we can't see eye to eye.
There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy,
There's only you and me and we just disagree 
--There Ain't No Good Guys, 
Dave Mason 

Isolation is much less dangerous than the dangers
of being dragged into wars that don't concern us
--Lord Salisbury

 --How old are you? 
--Twelve... more or less
 --Let the Right One In (2008)

The first thing a young military leader learns is that the choices in most situations do not follow a simple algorithm to a good outcome. This is especially true when the problems are multi-layered and entrenched, often in place long before you arrived on station. Like the hostilities in Iraq, for example, which are not "twelve (years old) ... more or less," but more like 600 years old.

The choices are rarely between good and bad, but rather, bad and worse. Leadership instruction omits this critical point.

Witness Iraq, Syria and the muddle that is United States foreign policy in Asia and the Middle East, or what passes for policy. One principle of leadership says great leaders outstrip the power curve and anticipate, so as to mitigate the negatives presented by a scenario.

Looking ahead, the U.S. in June 2014 has two choices:

1) It can bomb, reinforce and support the al Maliki Shia government, or
2) It can abstain from action, letting the situation develop locally.

If we choose #1, we are admitting the failure of nation-building, Counterinsurgency theory (COIN) and the entire Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) Why, even COIN poster boy Gen. David Petraeus is saying, don't go back into that briar patch. “This cannot be the United States being the air force for Shia militias, or a Shia on Sunni Arab fight.” No, no.

Our policy is then revealed to be the sham it is in thought, spirit and action.

However, if we choose #2, we are admitting the intellectual deficiency from which the PWOT© emerged. This choice verifies that al Qaeda, et, al -- include the Taliban -- never were a major threat to the U.S. homeland as the nation had been led to believe; if it were, we would have chosen #1 instead.

It is futile to say the unspooling situation is the result of our elective invasions, erroneous assumptions and illogical command choices following the attacks of 9-11-01. Whatever choice the U.S. makes now is "bad" or "worse"; there are no good choices.

Do nothing, and the region is destabilized with ethnic combat the outcome. National entities will breakdown as the nations revert to being tribes with flags. The Iraq the U.S. built was not a nation-state, but merely a pale facsimile. The effort is like suturing a ruptured organ too tattered to hold, and reinforcing it will be another hoax committed upon the American taxpayer.

Iraq is neither a U.S. friend nor an ally, because there IS no Iraq -- just a bunch of radicalized tribes. If we bomb in support of al Maliki's Iraq, then we are killing the same people that we have been supporting in Syria. Despite this obvious fact, we are fed the lie that U.S. policy supports "moderate" fighters there.

Uh, "moderates" don't usually carry out armed activities. In fact, all the fighters in Syria are extremists in thought and action. There are no "good guys" here, and it is a pathetic charade to say otherwise. If neither the Syrian opposition nor the Iraqi's are our friends, why support either?

Another deception being perpetrated by the press is that al Qaeda now has an army in Iraq which poses an existential threat to Europe and the U.S. Strangely, some Americans believe the lie, but the Europeans do not fall for this canard.

The U.S. wants its cake and to eat it, too. It wants to call Saudi's "friends", as well as the Iraqi's which we have created. But it is impossible to befriend two countries that are irreconcilable foes. The U.S. maintains the same fiction with India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  We pretend that these countries are our friends and allies, when in reality they do not share any of our strategic interests.

Ranger believes that the U.S. has been outplayed and out-classed by the Arab leaders like those of Saudi Arabia. We have been flanked, and they are rolling our lines. The man in the Arab street is not pro-American, nor will he be.

As we used to say, will the last man out please bring the flag home and turn out the lights. There is only one good we can see: the World's Largest Embassy, costing over a $ Billion and bigger than The Vatican, will make a great hotel for Iranian tourists visiting the sacred Shia sites in Iraq.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

June's Bustin' Out All Over

It was from us they learnt the secret of life:
that we grow old without growing wise 
--A Murder of Quality, John le Carre

I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize
--Steven Wright  

When you told me 
You didn't need me anymore 
Well you know I nearly broke down and cried 
--Oh! Darling, The Beatles 


Subtitles: Deadneck Hootenanny; Sisyphus; House of Cards

Iraq, such it was, is disintegrating. Goodbye U.S.A.; don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Absolutely NO surprises here, no siree, Bob. Take a cauldron of seething generational hatreds (Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds), throw in hundreds of Billions of United States greenbacks and strong soldiers and materiel on a jihad-to-overthrow-a-jihad, a little apocalyptic fervor, overthrow the country's Head Honcho (the late Mr. Hussein) who was keeping a lid on the boil and -- Bob's your uncle -- June, 2014 Iraq.

It's a not-proud day for American war hawks everywhere. Just like after the fall of Saigon in the Vietnam debacle (1975), the words are already forming: "We should have stayed there longer!" "We could have headed this off at the pass." But the truth is, should we have done that we would have merely hemorrhaged more precious tax dollars and lives for the arrogant privilege of staving off the inevitable Iraq civil war for another -- five years? Ten?

It's not our job, man (like Chico said.) Not our job to prop up our straw men, like Nouri al-Maliki. Not our job to train up security forces who drop trou at a moment's notice. Not our job to "spread democracy" at the tip of a gun, because it can't be done.

Building an Army and a police force does not = building a society.

In a sad attempt to snatch some failure from the jaws of defeat, CBS news reported last night that the Iraq government has "lost all the advantages and victories and progress that our soldiers bought with their lives." What piffle.

The PWOT has been an example of faulty logic and monumental stupidity and ego posing as strategic national policy from the start. It is cold comfort to re-state the obvious: the Iraqi Army is throwing down their arms and uniforms and melting into the woodwork like the cockroaches we constantly opined they were.

The building of the Iraqi Army and Police was an act of folly not founded in any historical reality.

We were going to link to some humdinger pieces we had written, but why? The raison d'etre of RangerAgainstWar has been to oppose the Phony War on Terror (PWOT©) since its inception. We have never wavered (unlike former Secretary of State Clinton who said on NPR's "Fresh Air" today that she just didn't know it was wrong at the time; she's "learned". ) Type in any relevant identifiers and you will get back tons of insight here on RAW as to why this pathetic expedition was doomed to failure.

The big cities have fallen (Mosul, Fallujah and Ramadi) to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) -- the the bigger and better al Qaeda, constituted of battle-hardened pros mentored by generations of occupiers. Kirkuk has just been taken by the Kurds, perhaps the most reasoned members of the Iraqi cock-up. They have wisely been sitting on their haunches, licking their talons and waiting to join the fray to claim for their piece of the pie in the North.

Iraqi officials told the Guardian that two divisions of Iraqi soldiers – roughly 30,000 men – simply turned and ran in the face of the assault by an insurgent force of just 800 fighters. Isis extremists roamed freely on Wednesday through the streets of Mosul, openly surprised at the ease with which they took Iraq's second largest city after three days of sporadic fighting.
Senior government officials in Baghdad were equally shocked, accusing the army of betrayal and claiming the sacking of the city was a strategic disaster that would imperil Iraq's borders.
The developments seriously undermine US claims to have established a unified and competent military after more than a decade of training. The US invasion and occupation cost Washington close to a trillion dollars and the lives of more than 4,500 of its soldiers. It is also thought to have killed at least 100,000 Iraqis. (Iraq Army capitulates to ISIS militants in four cities)

Hang it up, America. We are the designated losers in this misguided war. We cannot via force of arms change the flow of history or reality.

We told you so. It's cold comfort.

--Jim & Lisa

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Smiley's People

 Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the West behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout
That Georgia's always on m-m-my mind 
--Back in the USSR,
The Beatles 

 There will be no war, but in the pursuit
of principle no stone will be left standing 
--Absolute Friends, John le Carre

Subtitle: Designated Hitters

It is said that President Obama doesn't smile much, that he has the sang froid of an attorney-academic. But we will see him as "Smiley" for just this post.

The press has been having their day with the recently-released Prisoner of War U.S. Army SGT Bowe Bergdahl. Some call him a traitor; other say he nuts. The more charitably-minded say it is right that the five supposed Taliban prisoner at Guantanamo Bay be traded for his release, while others claim those released will go right back to being carbuncles on the back of Democracy.

Funny we call Bergdahl a former P.O.W., yet the five men traded for his release were not designated P.O.W.'s; at best, they were called "detainees". When the U.S. was gunning for war, the Taliban leaders (once and current leaders in Afghan's government) were "terrorists". Assuredly, al Qaeda types may be terrorists, but Taliban membership requires meeting a far different bar than does al Qaeda.

But our topic today is not the terminology applied to the incarcerated, or the legitimate leadership of Afghanistan. The topic concerns the intention behind the choice of these five Gitmo detainees.

Rather than seeing the released prisoners all through the narrow glass of radical ideological caricature, what if one or more of them is now something different after 12 years in captivity? What if, after 12 years of mind-breaking incarceration, one or more of these Taliban have been turned?

What if, possibly -- and just that -- one or more is now an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency, and enjoys the best of legend and cover? These men are the real deal, and if they've been turned, that could be one reason for the trade (after Bergdahl's five years in captivity.)

You can tell Ranger if you think he has read one too many le Carre novels.

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Monday, June 09, 2014

Pay the Fiddler

--U.S. forces landing at Normandy,
6 JUN 1944

Friday was the 70th anniversary of D-Day, that horrible day when United States troops so bravely stormed the fortress Europe to tackle the gargantuan task of eliminating Fascist powers from the scene.

We know how we did it on the Western Front, but the question is, "Why?" The European Wars I & II were caused by Europeans and the savagery and inhumanity of those endeavors is unquantifiable, so why did the U.S. get involved?

Same-same today regarding Libya, Egypt, the Sinai, Syria, Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East. If there is a concept called "responsibility", why isn't France and England shouldering the burden of the colonial messes they created? Why must the U.S. always carry their water?

It is possible to start with the Crusades and end with the balkanization of the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires following WW I. This created the majority of the fault lines in the Middle East extending to Kashmir, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The only place the U.S should feel any responsibility is Iraq and mainly Iran, as we created or enabled the sepsis of their society via our interdiction in their national situations. However, war will also not solve either country's dynamics, as Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) clearly demonstrated. The answer to these society's ills will never be settled by proxies on the battlefield.

American security is secured by oceans, intercontinental missiles and our vast military, economic and political structure.

So the question is, why does the U.S. continue to fight other people's battles to the detriment of our own welfare? Is that not why so many Americans died on the beaches of Normandy 70 years and three days ago?

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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Making Hay

Beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.  I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other 
doesn't make any sense 
--The Field, Rumi (trans. Coleman Barks) 

How does it feel to feel what I had to learn
Baby, don't say you're sorry
'cause I'm just not concerned 
--Tell It to the Rain, 
The Four Seasons

Ranger has 20 acres of fertilized grass that he swaps to local cattleman in return for their cutting it and keeping the pasture productive -- the best of bartering.

Recent rains caused the grass crop to prosper, but there were concerns that there would be a sunshine period to harvest the hay. Jumping on a brief window, two trucks, five men 3 trailers one tractor, bailer and thresher showed up and the men worked three nights processing the hay (a chore which they tackled after their day jobs.) That's America, and it always has been.

But on the final night the skies broke open, wetting the hay, meaning mold and mildew will ruin the bales. There was no tarpaulin to protect the hay, and the overhang of my outbuilding was not enough to cover them. A minor tragedy at ten, there will be no news at eleven.

In this comedy of errors Ranger saw a microcosm of modern day existence in the U.S.A. All the work and effort was negated for the want of tarps. The hay ended up like our efforts in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©); there was not enough to close the deal. Look at the actions of the latest Medal of Honor recipients, CPL William Carpenter and Sergeant Kyle White.

They had everything that a soldier needed to engage in combat, but they couldn't get the hay out of the field. They were shot up and rattled, and produced nothing for the benefit of anyone. They may as well have been out in the field without a tarp.

Men were killed and wounded, and command outposts (COPs) were abandoned, as ever, after all the needless violence. Even if they had won a decisive unit level victory, there was no hay hauled away. {The same goes for the previous actions of MOH recipients Carter, Romesha, and Swenson.}

Whether in a far-flung COP or my field, all the effort is meaningless unless the sun can shine on our efforts. Nothing can change the rain, the sky or the earth. Life is about fighting for the right reasons, which are always life-enhancing.

The bales of hay are expendable, but our soldiers should not be, even if we pretend and perpetrate the fiction that they were mowed down for a purpose.

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