Friday 20th of September 2019

meanwhile, back in fantasyland .....

meanwhile, back in fantasyland .....


The Gates of Change

from the Centre for American Progress …..

‘The carnage continues to intensify in Baghdad, but the long national nightmare of Donald Rumsfeld's tenure as Secretary of Defense is almost over. Tomorrow, the Senate will consider the nomination of Rumsfeld's presumptive replacement, Robert Gates. The desire to replace Rumsfeld, who will serve until his successor is confirmed, is so great that "no senator has indicated opposition to Gates' nomination," and his nomination is expected to easily clear the Senate. The hope is that Gates "would boost morale at the Pentagon, where outgoing defense chief Donald Rumsfeld often clashed with the top brass." But the AP reports that Gates "may bring more of a change in style than substance to the Pentagon and the fractious debate over Iraq." His hearings present an important opportunity to ensure that's not the case by pressing Gates on his approach to Iraq and other critical problems facing the Pentagon.

Due to the strain of repeat deployments to Iraq, two-thirds of the active Army and more than two-thirds of the National Guard are not combat-ready. This means that nearly every active Army combat brigade not currently deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan is not ready for battle. Until this situation is improved, the United States will not be able to robustly respond to new threats around the world.

Colin Powell, former Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi, Bill Clinton, George Will, Sen. Chuck Hagel and many others believe that Iraq is in a civil war. U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan said yesterday that the situation in Iraq is "much worse" than a civil war. (American Progress Senior Fellow Brian Katulis explains that there are at least four major internal conflicts in Iraq.) Bush has dismissed the idea and the recent violence saying, "We've been in this phase for a while."

Prior to being nominated as Secretary of Defense, Richard Gates was a member of the Iraq Study Group. The New York Times reported that the group "will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of setting a firm timetable for their withdrawal." President Bush has signaled his rejection of even this modest step. In Jordan last week, Bush said, "I know there’s a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there’s going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq. This business about a graceful exit just simply has no realism to it whatsoever."

Roughly 140,000 troops are caught in the crossfire of a civil war in Iraq. Meanwhile, American and NATO forces are rapidly losing control of Afghanistan. Both al-Qaeda and the Taliban "are back, waging a 'bloody insurgency' in the south and east of the country." The AP reports, "Insurgent activity in Afghanistan has risen fourfold this year, and militants now launch more than 600 attacks a month, a rising wave of violence that has resulted in 3,700 deaths in 2006."

The American people were misled into the war in Iraq based on faulty intelligence about WMD in Iraq and alleged ties to al Qaeda. Gates, the former director of the CIA, has his own trouble history with intelligence. In the early 1990s, "CIA colleagues came forward to testify that [Gates] had kowtowed to the wishes of his superiors and had manipulated intelligence to suit White House policy." Specifically, "the intelligence estimates prepared under [former CIA Director William] Casey and Gates about the Soviet threat -- now declassified -- were mostly unequivocal, though later they were shown to be largely wrong. Four years before the Soviet Union dissolved, for example, Gates warned in a memo that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was after power and not reform." Some believe, however, the contentious 1991 confirmation hearing for CIA Director "forced [Gates] to reexamine his style" and he has "learned over the years...[to be] more patient."’