Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rough notes on the empire death watch

David Seaton's News Links
As I said in the previous post I am loafing a bit this week with no deadlines to meet. However, being a firm believer in the old boxer's adage, "train hard, fight easy", I am engaged, little beaver fashion, in my reading so that hopefully by next week I'll have something useful to say about the horrible mess in the Middle East for my Spanish readers.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share with you some partially digested material I've been looking at today.

On the eve of more possible conflict, the first thing to do would be to look to the state of forces to be employed. In military affairs, wise men say that amateurs speak of strategy but professionals talk about logistics. If that were the gauge, here is a clipping from the Washington Times, from an extremely professional article by Retired Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales, former commander of the US Army War College that is anything but encouraging.
If you haven't heard the news, I'm afraid your Army is broken, a victim of too many missions for too few soldiers for too long. Today we have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan all of our fighting brigades, both active and reserve. Every brigade save one in Korea has spent time in combat. Twenty have two tours there, nine have three and two have four. Some of these brigades' one-year deployments were extended by several months. To demonstrate the gravity of the problem, let's do the math. After the surge the nation will need to keep 33 brigades, each consisting of about 3,000 soldiers, in the field. Past experience tells us that three brigades are needed to keep one continuously in the fight (one recovering and one training up to support each deployed brigade). The Army could in theory maintain itself in combat indefinitely using such a scheme. From a human perspective, a three-for-one schedule would allow each soldier two years back for every year in combat. That is tough but sustainable. So, that means we need a total of 99 brigades to support 33 in the fight. Sorry to say, we only have about half that number available to the Army and Marine Corps.(...) Today, anecdotal evidence of collapse is all around. Past history makes some of us sensitive to anecdotes and distrustful of Pentagon statistics. The Army's collapse after Vietnam was presaged by a desertion of mid-grade officers (captains) and non-commissioned officers. Many were killed or wounded. Most left because they and their families were tired and didn't want to serve in units unprepared for war. If we lose our sergeants and captains, the Army breaks again. It's just that simple. That's why these soldiers are still the canaries in the readiness coal-mine. And, again, if you look closely, you will see that these canaries are fleeing their cages in frightening numbers. The lesson from this sad story is simple: When you fight a long war with a long-service professional Army, the force you begin with will not get any larger or better over the duration of the conflict. For that reason, today's conditions are pretty much irreversible. There's not much that money, goodwill or professed support for the troops can do. Another strange consequence is that the current political catfight over withdrawal dates is made moot by the above facts. We're running out of soldiers faster than we're running out of warfighting missions. The troops will be coming home soon. There simply are too few to sustain the surge for very much longer. READ IT ALL
After looking at the state of the forces, the next thing would be to look at the state of the alliances. America's diplomatic efforts led by Doctor Rice have been pointed toward creating an anti-Iran front among "moderate" Arab governments. Tony Karon of Time Magazine commented on the results in TomDispatch.
In reality, the Bush administration seems increasingly at odds with the consensus among the Arab moderates it claims to be leading. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, in particular, appears to have sent a signal of this in cancelling -- with little explanation -– a special state dinner that was to be hosted by President Bush on April 17th. Then, at Wednesday's Arab League Summit in Riyadh, the King followed up by demanding an end to the crippling financial siege of the Palestinian Authority imposed by the U.S. and denouncing the American military presence in Iraq as an "illegitimate foreign occupation." This is strong stuff from the Saudis. READ IT ALL
Strong stuff indeed, especially when you consider that the United States has been the sole guarantor of the the Saudi royal family survival since 1945... Some might consider the phrase, "illegitimate foreign occupation" coming from the King of Saudi Arabia as truly the "writing on the wall"... "You're dead son. get yourself buried".

As to European opinion, there is this snippet from Der Spiegel.
Forty-eight percent of Germans think the United States is more dangerous than Iran, a new survey shows, with only 31 percent believing the opposite.(...)(in) a Forsa opinion poll commissioned by Stern magazine. Young Germans in particular -- 57 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds, to be precise -- said they considered the United States more dangerous than the religious regime in Iran. READ IT ALL
In view of this state of European public opinion, I am not at all sure that the United States could have free use of its European bases in Germany, Italy or Spain or even the fly over use of their airspace in case of an American air attack on Iran.

Meanwhile, what is the word from America's most important ally, Israel? Here is an interesting clipping from Debka.
In his briefing to the Israeli cabinet Sunday, April 1, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, AMAN chief, reported that Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas expect the United States to attack Iran in the summer and they are preparing to retaliate by going to war with Israel. In Yadlin’s view, a proliferation of players and the many imponderables could ignite a conflict, which none of the parties wants – as happened in the Six Day War of 1967.(...) His comments came one day after Iran’s chief of staff, Gen. Hassan Fayrouz Abadi, urged the Arabs to hurry up and join Iran in a defense treaty because, he claimed, Israel threatened a war offensive in summer, two months hence. According to the Iranian general, Israel was bent on a “suicide assault” against a number of Arab states to save the Americans from having to pull their troops out of Iraq (sic).(...) Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas may be presumed to be acting on some piece of intelligence that point to a forthcoming US attack some time between April and early September 2007. Therefore, the Middle East faces at least five months of incendiary military instability during which everyone will be braced for the axe to fall.(...) A coordinated Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah-Hamas attack would lay Israel open to four war fronts and the common weapon to them all: missiles - anti-tank, short-range surface, medium range ballistic and surface-to-air.(...) Hamas threatens to launch the third Palestinian uprising (intifada) against Israel within three months unless the international blockade is lifted and funds are released to the Palestinian Authority. The cabinet was informed that the IDF would start operating behind Gazan lines against the massive Palestinian military build-up. READ IT ALL
What about South Asia and the rest of the Muslim world?

There is a wonderful saying in Spanish, "eramos pocos y parió la abuela", which translates literally, "there were only a few of us and grandmother had a baby". It usually translates weakly into English as, "that was the last straw", which gives none of the surreal nuances of intense exasperation in the Spanish original. As to the reactions to a US/Israeli attack on Iran in Pakistan and its possible effect on the war in Afghanistan, you would do well to read this United Press International article by Arnaud de Borchgrave, said to have unsurpassed access to western intelligence services.
The U.S. intelligence community recently acquired a Pakistani insider's look at what makes Musharraf tick these days. As much as he wanted U.S. victory in Iraq, he has long since concluded the United States has lost the hand to Iran. To recoup America's loss before he leaves the White House in January 2009, Musharraf believes Bush will strike Iran's nuclear facilities from air and sea. And this, in turn, will unite Sunnis and Shiites in Pakistan against all things American -- and provoke a gigantic upheaval throughout the Middle East. With the whole world turning against Israel and the United States, he could not afford to continue his policy of "constructive ambiguity" toward the Bush administration.(...) What ISI reports to him from the European capitals that sent troops to Afghanistan under the NATO flag, and from numerous ISI operatives in 34 Afghan provinces on the other side of the Hindu Kush mountain range, is that NATO is losing ground to a resurgent and rejuvenated Taliban. ISI's conclusion: the NATO consensus on Afghanistan will not long survive a U.S. defeat in Iraq and/or U.S. hostilities against Iran.(...) Creeping Talibanization is now a reality across the length and breadth of one of the world's eight nuclear-weapons powers. Two of Pakistan's four provinces are already under anti-U.S., pro-Taliban governments. Musharraf has convinced himself that unless he could obtain another five years in power -- he took over in a military coup in 1999 -- Pakistan's nuclear arsenal would be at risk of falling under the control of Islamist extremists. READ IT ALL
Truly, eramos pocos y parió la abuela. DS

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