Aug 31, 2007

We Don't Need Another Fight Right Now

When you are already trying to hold your own against a couple of bad-asses in the meanest part of town, the last thing you need is for your drunken girlfriend to go start something with the biker gang on the corner.

Leaving aside the relative merits of a strike against the Iranians, why might America's military resist such action? First, consider the fact that the US has at the moment 162,000 troops in Iraq, 30,000 in Kuwait, 4,500 in Bahrain and 3,300 in Qatar - not to mention the two carrier battle groups in the Gulf or the 8,500 troops on the ground in Afghanistan. In the event of an American or Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, for example, the troops in Iraq, the Gulf and Afghanistan would be in even greater danger than they already are, vulnerable to an Iranian counterattack or, more likely, an Iranian-sponsored terror campaign.

Second, there exists a tremendous sense of guilt among the US senior officer corps for what is seen as a failure to stand up to the civilian leadership in the rush to go to war against Iraq in 2002 and 2003. Much of the current divide between America's generals and its junior officer corps boils down to a sense on the part of junior officers that their superiors largely acquiesced to whatever Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in the run-up to the Iraq war. The charge of spinelessness is one that hurts America's generals, especially as it comes from lieutenants and captains who have proven themselves on the battlefield of Iraq.

Third, in the wake of the Iraq war, professional military officers are more suspicious than ever of think-tank types with theories on how easy military victories can be achieved. As an active-duty US Army officer recently told me: "If I hear one more lawyer with no military experience explain to me how air power alone really can do it this time, I'm going to kill him."
[I and my Nellis komrads concur. -M1]

But that doesn't take into consideration that the Defense Department is the largest and most complicated department in the US government. As a bureaucracy, the Pentagon is almost Ottoman in terms of its scale and complexity. The system is dependent on thousands of mid-level military officers and civilian bureaucrats, and if a few determined bureaucrats set their minds to slowing a march to war, they can do it. The employees of the Pentagon can insist that every form be filled out in triplicate, that every authorization be approved by Congress, and bury those agitating for war in so much paperwork it would take a determined effort just to dig out.

The second thing those military officers and bureaucrats could do is leak information to the press should the administration begin taking secret steps toward military action. Prior to the Iraq war, officers rarely came into contact with journalists. But thanks to the personal relationships that have developed between journalists and the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly every mid-level US Army or Marine Corps officer has the name and number of at least one journalist in his or her rolodex.


steve said...

Speaking of Byzantine complexity, have you in your meatball adventures uncovered traces of where that pesky 3.5 trillion dollars the Pentagon says it's missing might have gone?

Meatball One said...


steve said...

..I mean... the OTHER 3.5 trillion...!

surely not ALL into Allah Footballs..

Meatball One said...

Ah, those. I shall query Effwit. He be da the chic manning the desk of such skullduggerous matters.

Meatball One said...

To actually answer your original question:

I had heard it was something like 25 or 50 billion. Unless we are talking apples and oranges here.

The missing money that I have heard about was facilitated by the ongoing need for pallets of U.S. cash to pay the bills over there.

There are rooms filled with cash all over Iraq that are not very well secured.

There are lots of stories of people taking a couple of million and driving to Amman and depositing it in branches of the big banks -- to be conveniently accessed in Europe or wherever.

Other monies have doubtlessly been siphoned off by contractors or distributed to god knows who with little or no accounting having been done.

But it ain't any trillion dollar amount. The entire war hasn't cost a trillion yet.

steve said...

This is something I run into constantly. People complain about missing billions here, missing billions there. This is so much smaller than the amount of money missing as to be nearly inconsequential.

check these two links:

the first is about Rumsfeld reporting to congress (on September 10, 2001, of all days) that the Pentagon "can't seem to track some 2.3 trillion dollars."

The second is about Dov Zackheim apparently misplacing another trillion as comptroller of the Pentagon.

These trillions are not to be confused with the trillions the Pentagon has cost on record the past six years:

SEC. RUMSFELD: "Half a billion dollars a year -- I mean, half a trillion dollars a year -- then it would be like $3 trillion over the six years. That's not nothing. That is a pile of money. And you look at it -- let's say it's 2.5 trillion (dollars), just to be conservative..."

A trillion here, a trillion there... you're talking money.

You're talking 54 billion? Chicken feed!

Your joking answer, I think, is actually right on the money. I believe HUD is indeed another source of missing trillions, but those are differnt trillions. I haven't read up on it, but I have heard a former HUD official say that for years it was run as a criminal enterprise.

steve said...

on the other hand, these links make it look like I've misunderstood the whole thing:, what do I know? Only what I read on
the internet...

Meatball One said...

OK, I'm gonna be a real yellow bellied and jello-spined chicken and let you in on a secret: I queried a buddy about your question and cut 'n pasted his answer here.

The only thing I know (and that's just because I'm so ignorant of these things as opposed to knowing that there ain't nuttin' to know)is that I heard some interview with a chicadee named Fitts or something, and that many blue moons ago...and she was going on about HUD and missing billions (or trillions)...ergo my flip initial answer. I must say, my gut had me pegging the Fitts chic as not completely unreliable. Solaris - does that ring a bell with you?

I shall delve into your links and get back to you, hopefully a little wiser for the read. Hopefully, he said.

Thanks Steve!

steve said...

I've listened to Catherine Austin Fitts in person, and she sounds like the real deal.

She's the one who said HUD was being run as a criminal enterprise, by the way.

Here's hoping Sept 11 this year is not celebrated by a bombing run on Iran...

Oh, and our DSL is back! Hooray!

Meatball One said...

I'm guessing at the Project Censored shin digs, non? Cool. Yes, I looked her up after my latest comment and indeed, she was the chicadee I had once heard speak of the skullduggeries de HUD.

Bombing run. I have an old projection lying around here that put the hit to Q3'07. As much as I'd like to pan out as a spooky prophet, I think it won't happen now. We're seeing a full court pressure op on Iran. The latest revelations of pending full scale strikes are part of it. But it wouldn't be credible unless we were actually in a position to deliver.

DSL, now we're talkin'. My condolences for dial-up woes of past.

steve said...

I sincerely hope your estimate of our unreadiness to commit another war is accurate.

Though I can't right now find any evidence of it, I heard the other day that there was a congressional vote (and a senate vote) recently that apparently gave Bush the green light to do whatever he wants to Iran. Let's hope cooler heads prevail.

Yes, DSL. Hoo-ray! Now I can actually watch YouTube again, should I get the time.

Meatball One said...

Oh, I think we are relatively ready (else the PSYOP threats wouldn't be credible) and have been so for quite the while - I just think it's a f*cked up idea to really do it - even if done as wisely as possible. But sure, PSYOP can be flipped to kinetic with relative ease in this case. Such are my yellow speculations.

Two earlier and rambling SMC posts on the matter:

steve said...

Thanks for the links. They predate the initiation of my Meatball Awareness program.