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Does anyone know Trump’s goal in Syria?

by Eric Ferguson on April 20, 2018 · 1 comment

Do the general dress Trump like this to make him feel more manly when sitting in front of the Big Board?

Do the generals dress Trump like this to make him feel more manly when sitting in front of the Big Board (that’s a Doctor Strangelove reference)?

When I ask if anyone knows Trump’s goal in Syria, that begs the question, does Trump know? Don’t think too hard. The fact Trump hasn’t laid out the goal strongly suggests he has no idea. We might also gather that as most likely because this is Trump. Remember Trump’s Razor: the stupidest explanation is most likely to be right. That causes me to conclude the fake field marshall hasn’t the first clue.


Sure, you can make guesses as to the goal in Syria. Feel free. Say whatever you infer the goal to be, but I have my response already: you’re inferring, so you don’t really know (though FWIW, this seems plausible, that #RPOTUS wants to make it look like his tweets mean something, and maybe keep Fox New viewers happy).


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clowncarIs this a ten-year-old acting tough on the playground, or an actual US senator seeking a major party nomination for president? The latter, sad to say. Marco Rubio thinks quoting movie lines is the way to scare terrorists. h/t Salon:

Not that this necessarily hurts his chances of winning the Republican nomination. As the Salon writer put it:

This is precisely the sort of dick-swinging swagger that conservatives loved (and still love) about George W. Bush. (When W. landed on the aircraft carrier to declare “Mission Accomplished,” G. Gordon Liddy was awestruck over how he could see Bush’s penis through his parachute harness.) The fact said swagger resulted in a decade-long foreign policy disaster that we’ll be struggling to clean up for many long years to come is secondary to the fact that the world knew that Bush was tough and would hit people really hard if they looked at America cross-wise. “Bring ‘em on,” Bush famously declared, channeling his inner action hero and taunting the enemies of America to just try and test our resolve.



clowncarGuess I was wrong. I figured when Jeb Bush said, “What you need to know is that who I listen to when I need advice on the Middle East is George W. Bush,” that was as disqualifying a statement as any candidate for public office ever uttered. Forget president: were Bush a candidate for county board, or city council, or soil district commissioner said something like that, you’d assume his judgment was far too suspect to allow him to be further considered. But nope. Turns out Bush could come up with something even worse to say.
Oddly enough, Fox News gave him his, um, opportunity. Bush said, “I would have,” which is harmful given the question he was answering. “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?” Naturally, we on the Democratic side will be bringing that up more than once. Republicans will have to choose between acknowledging the reality of arguably the single biggest blunder in US foreign policy history, or playing to a base that insists in telling itself that the war went just fine until Obama screwed it up by pulling out (in compliance with the status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government, mostly negotiated under Bush’s brother, but never mind the little point that the Iraqi government wanted us out).
If Bush does go for the “I thought the question was given what we knew then” spin, that’s not necessarily better given how we learned too late just how much knowledge the Bush administration withheld from Congress and the press. That begs the question, just who is the “we” in “what we knew”? What the Bush administration really knew, or the parts it told us about?
UPDATE: Apparently, Bush is going to go for claiming he misunderstood the question. Though lest he be accused of admitting a mistake, “Yeah, I don’t know what that decision would’ve been”. And wasn’t the surge great? Chris Christie gave a sense of where BUsh’s intraparty opponents might go. Having the sense to say he wouldn’t invade knowing what we know now, Christie felt the need to bow to stupidity:

Christie said that he believed former President George W. Bush did make “the best decision he could at the time” given the information coming from the U.S. intelligence community and the situation on the ground in Iraq.

Sure, if you’re willing to forget Bush ignored all the information that didn’t fit the pre-determined conclusion, which unfortunately was most of the intelligence. But let’s blame the intelligence agencies for that I guess. And let’s pretend Democrats would have done the same thing: “And so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.” Hillary owned up to the mistake, albeit not until well into the 2008 campaign and it cost her the presidency IMHO, and does anyone take seriously the notion she would have invaded Iraq had she been president after 911? Or any Democrat? “Almost everybody” doesn’t include most congressional Democrats, who figured it out even with the limited and often wrong information Bush provided. So no, Bush and Bush and bushies and other Republicans, you own the invasion and occupation of Iraq with all the consequences.
SECOND UPDATE: Bush came up with a bit of spin I hadn’t guessed at:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Wednesday said that he has refused to answer whether he would order the Iraq War knowing what he knows now, because it would disrespect the troops, according to CNN.

I’m starting to think I actually want the Republicans to pick this guy.

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Who Is It That Is Confused About ISIS?

by SJGulitti on April 30, 2015 · 0 comments

Those who are heavily invested in the notion that it is the religion of Islam that is driving much of the terror in Syria and Iraq and beyond will find these new revelations by the German magazine Der Spiegel tough to swallow. Der Spiegel’s man found out, through an analysis of captured documents exhibited in the article, that ISIS is the creation of a former Iraqi Air Force Officer. This officer, Haji Bakr, who along with the many Iraqi officers kicked to the curb after the fall of Iraq, went on to formulate, lead and propagate ISIS as more or less a criminal enterprise, cloak it in religious form for recruitment purposes and launch it on its way. To date most of the captured leadership of ISIS have been linked to the Baathist Iraqi military of the prior regime.

What’s most ironic in all of this is that it the seeds of this problem can be justifiably found in the failures which took place during the Bush/Cheney administration and not with the arrival of Barack Obama in the White House. So much for all the “appeasement” prattle and whether or not the current administration uses the terms “Islamic Terror” or “Radical Islam”, which as it turns out in this case would be structurally and conceptually inapplicable.


Haji Bakr, wasn’t widely known. But that was precisely part of the plan. The former colonel in the intelligence service of Saddam Hussein’s air defense force had been secretly pulling the strings at ISIS for years.


What Bakr put on paper, page by page, with carefully outlined boxes for individual responsibilities, was nothing less than a blueprint for a takeover. It was not a manifesto of faith, but a technically precise plan for an “Islamic Intelligence State” — a caliphate run by an organization that resembled East Germany’s notorious Stasi domestic intelligence agency.


ISIS has little in common with predecessors like al-Qaida aside from its jihadist label. There is essentially nothing religious in its actions, its strategic planning, its unscrupulous changing of alliances and its precisely implemented propaganda narratives. Faith, even in its most extreme form, is just one of many means to an end. Islamic State’s only constant maxim is the expansion of power at any price.
(Der Spiegel)


This guy wants to be president 2

by Eric Ferguson on February 1, 2015 · 0 comments

clowncarThough there’s “2” in the title, there’s three this time. “2” just means this is a follow up to the first one. And check the hashtag #ThisGuyWantsToBePresident. Feel free to contribute.
Sen. Lindsey Graham think he should be taken seriously as a presidential candidate because he won by 41 points. He’s referring to his party primary. You know, when incumbents normally win by massive margins. By his logic, just about every reelected incumbent qualifies to be president. And he’ll bring that same logic to the White House. Or maybe to the Sunday morning beltway talking head shows, which thinks diversity of opinion means alternating Graham and John McCain each week.
At least he knows his agenda should he win, because there are loads of countries we still haven’t bombed.
Our own Dog Gone noted that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence wanted his own state news agency. The reception has been poor however, and his staff are backing away like none of them actually worked on it. It’s just a “draft”! Yes, a thorough, final, ready to implement next month draft. This is the same guy who walked through a market on Baghdad during the occupation of Iraq to prove Iraq was getting safer — wearing body armor and accompanied by lots of soldiers while attack helicopters hovered overhead — and said it was just like any Indiana open air market.
Ben Carson, whose qualification for president is that he’ll tell conservatives any loopy bit of craziness they want to hear, says he doubts evolution can be real because Charles Darwin guessed it would take 50-100 years after his time to fill out the evolutionary tree. Given Carson’s general lack of alacrity with reality, I’m guessing Darwin never said that. Even if he did, Carson thinks evolution could be all wrong because the scientist who came up with the theory of natural selection 150 years ago guessed wrong at how long it would take to find all human ancestors going to back to amoeba.
Somebody used to let this guy work on brains. Really.


isil-300x162‘There are roads which must not be followed,
armies which must not be attacked,
towns which must not be besieged,
positions which must not be contested,
commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.’
Sun Tzu ~ On the Art of War


‘Don’t do anything stupid.’
President Barack Obama


War hysteria is a fascinating and horrifying thing to watch. I’ve seen it several times now in my life and it is always beyond ugly, like watching scorpions mate.


Aside from the verminous lies that tumble over each other like a swarm of filthy rats to electrify public opinion with fear and frenzy, our national leaders — grown men and women whose strength of character and deliberative judgment we rely on — daily prove susceptible themselves to the most transparent mendacity and appear spineless in the face of true moral challenge.


Until a few short months ago, the American public had never heard of ISIL and didn’t know a thing about them, even though ISIL has been fighting an insurgency in Syria against the Assad regime for years, and for years it has committed unspeakable atrocities against the Syrian people. The brutal murders of two American journalists notwithstanding, why now the sudden sense of urgency and demand for action in the public discourse and among our leadership?


The answer lies in war hysteria.


As the New York Times put it:


“… as President Obama prepares to send the United States on what could be a years-long military campaign against the militant group, American intelligence agencies have concluded that it poses no immediate threat to the United States. Some officials and terrorism experts believe that the actual danger posed by ISIS has been distorted in hours of television punditry and alarmist statements by politicians, and that there has been little substantive public debate about the unintended consequences of expanding American military action in the Middle East.”




Epitaph for the Bush Wars

by Grace Kelly on June 23, 2014 · 1 comment

cliff falling2Remember when then President Bush promised any easy quick war that would provide freedom to the Middle East. Remember the weapons of mass destruction that never existed. Remember the hunt for Osama bin Laden in the wrong country. Remember how this was not going to be another Vietnam. As the war hawks again try to peddle their lies, then perhaps we should review what a famous blogger from within the war said. Here is Riverbend on the 10th anniversary. We all rejoice that she is still alive somewhere.


Ten Years On…
April 9, 2013 marks ten years since the fall of Baghdad. Ten years since the invasion. Since the lives of millions of Iraqis changed forever. It’s difficult to believe. It feels like only yesterday I was sharing day to day activities with the world. I feel obliged today to put my thoughts down on the blog once again, probably for the last time.


In 2003, we were counting our lives in days and weeks. Would we make it to next month? Would we make it through the summer? Some of us did and many of us didn’t.


Back in 2003, one year seemed like a lifetime ahead. The idiots said, “Things will improve immediately.” The optimists were giving our occupiers a year, or two… The realists said, “Things won’t improve for at least five years.” And the pessimists? The pessimists said, “It will take ten years. It will take a decade.”


Looking back at the last ten years, what have our occupiers and their Iraqi governments given us in ten years? What have our puppets achieved in this last decade? What have we learned?



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Never have so many been so wrong…

by Dan Burns on June 19, 2014 · 1 comment

(Cross-posted from
..and so unapologetic.
When you watch those that want to go back and bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iraq, remember this: they were wrong about everything they predicted, AND they created The Mother Of All FUBARs. There were no WMDs. We weren’t greeted with candy and flowers. It wasn’t over in 6 weeks nor 6 months. It wasn’t paid for by Iraqi oil revenue. Major combat operations didn’t end, yada yada yada.
“Mission Accomplished”??!? Only in their minds; here on terra firma, not so much.
But don’t expect them to own up nor take any responsibility for what they did/what they said. This is typical of what they were saying/doing then; they’re still saying/doing that now.


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The new rule on Iraq is shut up

by Eric Ferguson on June 15, 2014 · 1 comment

There should be a rule for everyone who wants to comment on Iraq in 2014. Show what you were saying in 2002 and 2003. If you were supporting the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq then, STFU now. The headline on this Paul Waldman post in the Washington Post’s  The Plum Line sums it up a bit more nicely but still succinctly, “On Iraq, let’s ignore those who got it all wrong”.


As you watch the debate on this issue, you should remind yourself that the most prominent voices being heard are the very ones who brought us the Iraq War in the first place, who promised that everything was simple and the only question was whether we’d be “strong” and “decisive” enough — the same thing they’re saying today. They’re the ones who swore that Saddam was in cahoots with Al Qaeda, that he had a terrifying arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, that the war would be quick, easy and cheap, that since Iraq was a largely secular country we wouldn’t have to worry about sectarian conflict, and that democracy would spread throughout the region in short order, bringing peace and prosperity along with it.


Yes, I do have a written record of opposing the war on posts I put on my old personal web site, which will be readily reachable once my web host gets its head out of its a—nyway, maybe that’s what the reality-based community needs to do. When we comment, link to something we wrote back then, and challenge the neocons to do the same. So I found a way to link directly to one thing I wrote before the invasion, Bush’s credibility problem on Iraq. I’m not suggesting anything written then is helpful now, except that it does establish who was right at the time, and who helped bring about disaster and therefore now needs to shut up.

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Reflection on the Kennedy assassinaton

by Eric Ferguson on November 22, 2013 · 0 comments

I’m not old enough to actually remember the assassination of Pres. Kennedy being news instead of history, and I was probably an adult already when I first saw this photo, but this is the iconic photo for me. If “iconic” is an arguable word choice, then this is the photo that stuck with me:


Maybe it was just easy to empathize with a child that had lost so much but was too young to know it, for whom the pain that was immediate for the adults was going to creep up on him in the near future. Maybe 3-year-old John Jr. was saluting because the men were and he was just imitating, probably intuiting that something solemn was going on, but not understanding.
It puts me in mind of how perspectives change between childhood and adulthood. As a child, the Kennedy assassination was as much back in history as the Lincoln assassination. I had no awareness that the adults remembered this and likely had still experienced a strong emotional reaction. To me, this was one more event to be placed in correct date order, except for that one photo. I’m pretty sure I teared up when I first saw it, maybe because I was finally mature enough to understand it on multiple levels. I just know it still has that effect on me.
I suppose the people who were adults at the time can understand on an intellectual level that it’s history to younger people, but on another wonder how Kennedy’s assassination can be anything other than current events, moving into the past but still vital. If you’re reading this, the invasion of Iraq might still get you angry, and I too still get angry at “impeachment is off the table” and the knowledge no one in authority will stand trial for war crimes. Yet probably already today, some kids are first hearing about Iraq in the history section of the school library. They’ll know, as a matter of putting events in the correct order, that Bush’s invasion of Iraq came after his father’s war in Iraq, at least once they figure out these were two different Bushes and two different wars. Still, unless maybe a family member was in Iraq, and tells them about it, then the invasion of Iraq, the intervention in Vietnam, or the fall of the Roman Empire, they’re all sort of in the same category — things that happened sometime in the past. They’re not yet at the point where they realize things changed as a result. It seems most of us get to the point of recognizing a big event changed things, even if we can’t tell just how. That part is harder, as is realizing that for those alive at the time, current events never stop being current. From that point of view, maybe Kennedy was just shot.