Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The clown show continues

US AG Holder goes to Kabul to teach corruption to the Afghans, learn corruption from the Afghans, waste time and money.

It's difficult to conceive anyone more useless than Holder, sure we've seen Gonzalez in his full glory, but at least he served a political end. Holder might as well be going to the moon to lecture the moon rocks and stay there, no one would know the difference, or expect him back.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Shifting rifts

Our studly Prez is due to meet with his Israeli counterpart soon after Independence Day, and the press is already painting corners and putting the participants into them.

Eagle eared Israeli journalists heard Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oran, say that there was a 'tectonic rift' between the two nations policies, but said rift was then redefined as a 'shift', in the official line.

In the article, Obama was then defined by the ambassador as:
an ambitious change agent not satisfied with the status quo.
That sounds pretty dangerous for the Prez. Caesar, after all, was an ambitious man.

The aggressive WaPo, followed by the stately NYT and the rest of the herd, are going to put big pressure on Obama in the following week to toe the Israeli line. Who is he to demur?

Bibi is going to kick ass and take names. Only by laying low can Obama avoid the worst.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chain of Command

The cosmetic removal of McChrystal, who has resigned his command but not his rank, followed by the demotion of Petraeus from CENTCOM to AfPac is, if nothing else, emblematic of the rot in the US foreign policy/war making universe.

It's all just about personalities now, and their usefulness in the media world that controls perception. The NYT takes up the banner of Petraeus once again, the old/new savior whose 'victory' in Iraq can now be mirrored in AfPak.

He could have just flown on a magic carpet from another dimension as far as Alissa J. Rubin and Dexter Filkins are concerned. His responsibility for the failing strategy in Afghanistan than McChrystal is mentioned but then forgotten by the two reporters, a classic piece of NYT doublethink.

But that is one of our reporters most important qualifications, to be able to forget the past, and go with the new narrative. The new narrative revolves around the time-line that Obama set. It is clearly unrealistic, but it is more realistic than the open ended war that is embraced by first McChrystal, and Petraeus.

Obama's choice of the new CENTCOM commander is bound to be amusing. He will have no power of command over Petraeus, and will serve as a pure figurehead. I nominate Gen. Odierno, late of Iraq, who is eminently qualified.

The notion of a chain of command in the US military, as well as that in the civilian leadership is hopelessly compromised. McChrystal's and Obama's theatrics have only accentuated that.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Red Alert!!!!

From all appearances, a four star US general has disappeared, possibly abducted, confined to a hospital ward, or buried in a shallow grave.

Yes, CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus has gone missing, at least from the media, as his direct subordinate has been called to the White House to... explain himself.

President Obama will be there, SecDef Gates will be there, Gen. McChrystal will be there, but the third man in that chain of command seems to have gone missing, at least from what one can glean from the US press that has suddenly forgotten their past golden general.

In truth, Gen. Petraeus has had a lower profile for some time, despite his public fainting spells. When someone of supposedly presidential timber ducks under the radar, there usually is a good reason. What it is remains a mystery.

UPDATE: He's back! And taking over for McChrystal in Afghanistan. Why he was not somewhat responsible for McChrystal's remarks is not mentioned. Does this mean we are in store for more fawning about this warrior extraordinaire? It certainly does mean the continuation of the same failed policies. 

A glutton for punishment

Obama has re-invited Netanyahu back to the White House and the Israeli response was swift and predictable, more Arab housing in Jerusalem is to be demolished, this time to make way for a new tourist center.

The McChrystal to-do has, for the moment at least, obviated the need for 'regrets' by Sec. Clinton. Bibi will get pay his little visit as Master, and Obama as sycophant. But Bibi's approval will be hard to get, his thuggish nature almost guarantees further humiliation for the White House, but Obama seems to want or need it, he just keeps coming back for more.

McChrystal must be wondering why he didn't join the IDF, rather than the US army.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Preznit Clinton

The ongoing joke over Arizona's racist SB1070 immigration law is pretending that it makes any difference. The racist policies of the state and especially Maricopa county have only been enshrined by the hack governor and the clown show legislature.

But this is just grist to the mill of the current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Stepping into an issue that has nothing to do with her job description, she has shown that she thinks her real job is running for president. Obama may have thought he had declawed her, at the expense of US diplomacy, but as with so many of his appointments, people serve under him for their own agenda. Since he has none, that is even right and proper.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

So what's new?

SecDef Gates demanding that Congress approve $33bn more for the endless wars:
We begin to have to do stupid things if the supplemental is not passed by July 4.
From the same article:
With doubts on the war growing, the Obama Administration is likely to face a rare battle with Congress over the expenses. The Pentagon has angrily dismissed Congressional doubts about the war, insisting things are going according to plan.
What plan was that? Oh, it's a secret.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Winners and losers

The latest round of Iran sanctions has been passed by the UNSC, and it's time to chalk up some of the winners and losers:

Big Winners:
China - makes Iran more dependent on China.

Russia - makes Europe more dependent on Russia.

Turkey - shows up big as a regional player. Loses only with Israel, whose friendship is of doubtful value anyway.

Brazil - stands up against US and will continue to gain in influence.

Iran - sanction are pretty mild, but doubtless an additional irritant. Sanctions help the hardliners, weaken moderates and thus the nation, probably.

Israel - has to wait longer for additional sanctions, and puts back the threat of an attack on Iran. If there was a moderate alternative in Israel, it might strengthen them, and thus probably the nation, but there isn't one.

Big Losers:
U.S. - beside being made to look bad with the blunders of Clinton, it's lost the unanimity that used to accompany US diplomacy in the UN. That's more weakening than is apparent, and it's sure to multiply in the future.

Europe - With Merkle, Sarkozy, Berlusconi and whoever the current British lapdog is, the Europeans have no foreign policy apart from blindly following US blunders. Energy dependence on Russia is guaranteed for the foreseeable future.

Obama has proven himself, once again, unable to put together a credible foreign policy. He is unwilling or unable to stand up to anyone or anything that would make him pay a political price, so he waffles whenever decisions are to be made, and is unable to muster any consistency. I repeat, this is very dangerous for the nation and the world.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

How much oil?

Froomkin has been doing some of the best reporting on the gulf. He finds people who are trying to get to the crux of the matter, totally different from the spin echo machine in the press. A good sample:
But more than anything, she said, what scientists need to know is precisely how much oil and gas has leaked. Neither BP nor the Obama administration have been forthcoming on that front. Joye wrote:
It is virtually impossible to understand or quantify the ecological consequences of the BP blowout on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem without knowing how much oil and gas has leaked from the wellhead. These numbers need to be estimated and corroborated independently based on available observational data. Unfortunately, the leak rate was not quantified robustly during the first month of the spill (at least that information has not been made publically available). Unless we know how much oil is leaking from the wellhead, we cannot gauge the full extent of the ecological consequences in deepwater or surface water environments. For example, how much deepwater water column oxygen consumption will be fueled by this influx of oil and gas? Which water column microbial communities will be stimulated by oil and gas? What is the time scale of this response? How will surface water microbial communities respond to surface oil and gas inputs? Potential fishery, marine mammal, and wildlife consequences of the BP blowout cannot be properly predicted until we know the magnitude of the disaster. To put it bluntly, the scientific community is hamstrung until we know precisely how much oil and gas has leaked and is leaking from the wellhead.
Clearly, the administration has been happy to let BP run the narrative, and use their chumps in the Coast Guard and NOAA to back BP up as best they can. This has been going on now for close to two months, and nothing has changed. No one asks why doesn't the government try to get independent verification of the size of the leak Why are we still totally dependent on BP cameras?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hardball with Japan

Credit Barack Obama with one successful play of international hardball, the resignation of  Japanese PM Hatoyama. It would be interesting to know where the screws were applied to Mr. Hatoyama to get him to agree to keep the base on Okinawa, but they must have been sufficiently painful for him acquiesce  to the political suicide the agreement entailed. I wonder if Obama would have caved again if Hatoyama had had the stomach for a standoff. My guess, as you might have guessed, is that Obama would have folded like a pack of cards if Japan had any leverage in the upcoming midterms. But it probably didn't, especially with the Toyota millstone around its neck. (How much the Toyota episode was driven by international politics is anyone's guess.)

Whether this form of hardball will be enough to subdue the Japanese electorate, and bring the LDP back to power remains to be seen, but the combination with S. Korea's new assertiveness might signify a major shift in US strategy to keep China surrounded and in line.

Peter Lee, a.k.a. China Hand, has an article at the Asia Times, along with a post at China Matters, that explores the new power groupings that might be emerging after the sinking of the S. Korean ship.

One of his more provocative ideas from his post:
So I look at President Lee's moves on the Cheonan in the context of a reunification endgame that might begin sooner rather than later.

I speculate that South Korea would want to put North Korea into some kind of political receivership under UN auspices as a prelude to complete integration into the current ROK political structure

This would fit with President Lee's desire to place North Korea--and not just its nuclear and proliferation-related activities--on the Security Council agenda.
So it appears that the US, while getting tough with Japan, is allowing S. Korea to call the shots, both with the North and China. This is going to lead to addition instability, one way or another, and more danger for our already overwhelmed diplomacy and military.