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December 2008

A Maroon with no clue what Iran wants

WOW! This is quite possibly the worst analysis of Iranian goals and actions I have ever read.

By Ray Takeyh
Monday, December 29, 2008; A15

After an eight-year struggle over whether to engage Iran, the United States may finally be on the verge of launching a direct dialogue with its perennial Middle Eastern adversary. Washington has a long list of grievances to discuss, from sponsoring terrorism to the nuclear issue. The success of any talks will hinge on a critical unknown: What does Iran want? Today, an ascendant Iran views negotiations with the United States as a means of consolidating its gains and achieving American recognition of its regional status.

Kinda lame with the usual canard that we have not engaged Iran under W, but just wait this gets wicked stupid.

The two powers may find more commonality on the issues of Iraq and a Persian Gulf security structure. As it surveys the horizon, Tehran's primary foreign policy goal is stability, not the export of the revolution.

WTF? Stability? I am flabbergasted and don't even know how to insult that statement's inanity with the vitriol it deserves. I guess you could make it true as long as stability is defined as Iranian hegemony. What an ultra-maroon.

A functioning, Shiite-dominated Iraqi government with its sectarian blocs in check serves both American and Iranian objectives. Tehran's tempered conduct during the negotiations over the recently inked status-of-forces agreement regarding U.S. troops demonstrates its propensity for cooperation in Iraq.

You jackass, Iran has spent almost all of it's efforts fomenting terror and providing support, weapons and in many cases actively killing our troops and thousands of Iraqis. This dips**t considers that evidence of their propensity for cooperation.

In a similar manner, Iran may yield to a continued, albeit greatly limited, U.S. presence in the Gulf. Despite their belligerent rhetoric, Iranian leaders have come to believe that their projection of influence in their immediate neighborhood is best achieved through diplomacy rather than subversion and violence.

Seriously? I must have missed the diplomacy in the midst of all the slaughter they have facilitated in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.

Although Iran will insist that the future of Lebanon and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be part of any talks, its approach is likely to frustrate American interlocutors. It may surprise some that a state that routinely denies the legitimacy of Israel and even calls for its eradication could prove susceptible to reining in Hamas. But the tenuous nature of Iranian ties to Hamas and the prospect of countervailing gains elsewhere may lead Tehran to press Hamas toward more constructive participation in Palestinian politics.

Tenuous ties and a tendency to press them to be constructive? The only thing they have pressed them to construct is more rockets to fire at Israel.

It is the Persian Gulf, not the Arab east, that has always been the primary focus of Iran's foreign policy. As Tehran gains power and influence in the Gulf, it may prove moderate on more distant terrain. The Islamic Republic will never recognize Israel, but it may limit its mischievous interventions in Palestinian affairs.

This guy is without a doubt the most cluelessly optimistic appeaser since Chamberlain.

The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The writer is a highly-educated, serious-thinking, complete f**king idiot.

Israelis love dead tangos.

(h/t HA) Unsurprisingly Israelis are quite happy that their government has taken action against the murderous scum across the border. The scene is reminiscent of Civil War and old European wars where the aristos would make a picnic of it and watch nearby battles.

The locals need no convincing. Itay Avni, 32, who lives in the nearby Kibbutz of Nir-Am (population 400) is overjoyed at the Israeli assault on Gaza. He was among the crowd watching the Apaches launch their missiles. "Yesterday more then a hundred people from all around were here on this hilltop enjoying to the scene of dozens of aerial raids on Hamas military targets inside the Gaza strip," he says. "If I had open an ice-cream stand here I would have made a lot money." He adds, "Exaltation is the word to describe my feelings. At last, after eight years of defense alerts and hundreds of mortar shells, of Qassam rockets fired at our Kibbutz and the area, there is finally some retaliation. People are here to see it happening for real." Nevertheless, the people of the kibbutz are taking precautions. Students and all families with small children have left, moving to live with relatives further north in Israel.

It has to chafe them royally to see and hear the reactions of all those who blame Israel for the whole situation, while ignoring the continual criminality of the Palestinians. And to see their government fail to respond to to attack after attack must be particularly galling. Well as they say, Payback's a medevac, in an ambulance full of weapons some of the time.

John P. Pryor: Someone You Should Know

From MaryAnn comes word this morning that Major John P. Pryor was killed by enemy fire on Christmas.

Major Pryor was a surgeon, and not just any surgeon. He was the leader of the University of Pennsylvania's trauma team, arguably one of the best in the nation, and was a combat surgeon who operated with frontline units. On September 11, 2001 he raced to Ground Zero to volunteer his services. He also helped train people in disaster relief operations. He contributed opinion pieces to media outlets, and drew stark parallels between urban trauma units and combat trauma.

From the Washington Post:

In the swirl of screams and moving figures, my mind drifted to my recent experience in Iraq as an Army surgeon. There we dealt regularly with "mascals," or mass-casualty situations. In Iraq, ironically, I found myself drawing on my experience as a civilian trauma surgeon each time mascals would overrun the combat hospital. As nine or 10 patients from a firefight rolled in, I sometimes caught myself saying "just like another Friday night in West Philadelphia.

The wounds and nationalities of the patients are different, but the feelings of helplessness, despair and loss are the same. In Iraq, soldiers die for freedom, for honor, for their country and for their buddies. Here in Philadelphia, they die without honor, without purpose, for no country, for no one."

If you followed trauma medicine, or medical disaster response, you knew the name and the thoughts, if not the man.

Despite what he acknowledged in an undated document left with family was the high personal cost of going to serve, for he felt that family and others did not fully support his decision, he went anyway as he felt it was the right thing to do. This time, he was with the 1st Medical Detachment, Forward Surgical Team in Mosul, Iraq when killed by shrapnel from a mortar round.

Godspeed Dr. Pryor. You did indeed do more than a little good, and at several somewheres. You saved lives where otherwise they would be lost. You reminded all that we do not live in a world all our own. You taught, you inspired, you led -- a legacy that will live on and grow. May you indeed have the firgiveness from family and colleagues you sought. For what it is worth, you have my thanks for all that you did at home and in combat.


Swan Dive


U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Nicholas jumps from the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf during a swim call in the Indian Ocean, Dec. 16, 2008, The USS Vella Gulf is deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.    U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky.


What a Difference A Year Makes: Christmas In Iraq

This time last year, I was spending Christmas in Iraq with the troops (courtesy of Prudent Publishing, parent company of The Gallery Collection), and with a wonderful Iraqi family who cooked a wonderful Christmas feast for our troops on a cold Christmas Eve.

This was last year:


This is this year:

An Iraqi girl works on a Christmas tree during arts and crafts at a holiday-themed scouting event on Victory Base Complex, Iraq, Dec. 20, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joy Pariante

Santa Claus interacts with boys and girls that participate in the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides clubs on Forward Operating Base Liberty, Iraq, Dec. 20, 2008. U.S. servicemembers, who volunteer to help teach the children team-building skills during their weekly meetings, handed out gifts to celebrate the holiday season.
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Joshua Powell

Adding icing to the cake is having the Iraqi government make Christmas an official holiday and reading good stories on how Iraqi Christians went to Church on Christmas without fear -- despite the lack of American security, for that is now the provenance of Iraqi security forces almost everywhere.

Continue reading "What a Difference A Year Makes: Christmas In Iraq" »

Dead Tangos in Palestine

They have never accepted the existence of Israel. They teach hateful, racist propaganda to school kids ensuring the next generation keeps up the slaughter. They have launched hundreds of rockets during a "cease fire" which now has lapsed. The Israelis kept weapons tight until the official "cease fire" ended.

Now they are making piles of dead tangos and I say Bravo! The Palestinians are an artificial creation of the hard liners who decided they didn't want the Jooos in their neighborhood. There is no question both groups have historical claims to the area but when the UN made a compromise, the Israelis were attacked multiple times by their Arab neighbors. They kicked the crap out of these vaunted Arab armies. They have created a stable, liberal democracy and even allow Israeli Arabs to serve in Parliament.

The Palestinians have murdered innocents wholesale and threatened to push all the Israelis into the sea and claim all the land. They have spent countless billions of other peoples dollars to train terrorists and let their own people starve. they are reprehensible and only marginally civilized. They can learn to live like decent human beings or they can die and be stacked like cord wood.


Old Guard Pooch


Ryky, a three-year-old Belgian Malanois, who is partnered with U.S. Army Sgt. James Harrington, prepares to leave Forward Operating Base Falcon, Iraq, Dec. 19, 2008, on cache and search operations and route clearance in the Rashid district of southern Baghdad. Harrington is assigned to the 947th Military Police Detachment, part of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard.”    U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Harrington.

Ryky is a very effective route clearer.  More after the Jump.

Continue reading "Old Guard Pooch" »

Obama visits the troops & his fans go wild

It should surprise no one familiar with the military that Obama got a respectful but unenthusiastic response when he dropped in at a meal. W catches rock star greetings, but when you have spent your political career trying to lose a war these folks were busy fighting.....well you get "Yes sir Mr. Obama Sir, can I get back to chow now?"

From ABC's Jake Tapper

As Obama entered the room, it was absent of the regular fanfare of cheering and clapping. The diners were polite, staying seated at their respective tables and waited for the president-elect to come to them to stand up.....

Obama transition aides say that Obama did not eat with the uniformed men and women -- he ate at his beach home with his family and friends Christmas night.

Well he certainly wasn't among friends at the chow hall.

A Foreign Service Officer with a clue

I spend a fair amount of time, justified I think, pounding on the State Department for well basically not doing us much good. The time spent sipping tea and conducting formalized lying in formal wear seems lowly productive to me. My interactions with them while in the field trying to make things happen were rarely satisfactory because if they ever bothered to get to the field it was a fly by and then back to a four star hotel for some celebratory champagne and crudites. It is a pleasure to read a piece like this one in the WaPo that is chock full of common sense.

The principal provider of U.S. economic assistance, the U.S. Agency for International Development, is severely constrained in Afghanistan by security rules that tolerate no risk for our Foreign Service officers. They are rarely allowed outside the fortress-like U.S. Embassy in Kabul. When they get out, to attend a meeting or visit the site of a project financed by USAID, they are often surrounded by heavily armed security personnel who make it virtually impossible to interact with the Afghan people they are helping.

For USAID to design effective projects, its officers must work closely with the Afghans who know what works best in their difficult environment. Those officers must have access to the project sites to ensure that the intended results are being produced. USAID prides itself on having experienced officers in the field, in the most difficult environments, to ensure strong design and oversight. It owes no less to American taxpayers and the Afghan people.

Amen brother, preach on.

The "no risk" approach is harming America's image. After the 2005 earthquake in northern Pakistan, the people in the affected region changed their attitude about America when they got to know the aid workers, who were there day after day. But when Afghans see civilian American aid workers coming, surrounded by security contractor "shooters," they stay away. The situation is no better with most of the provincial reconstruction teams, which depend on NATO forces for security. On a visit to Farah province in western Afghanistan earlier this year, the headmaster of an agriculture high school close to the U.S.-led provincial reconstruction team told an expert who had just arrived from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that he was not welcome if heavy military security had to accompany him.

The best security available is to have the trust of the people you are working with and let them keep you safe. As he mentions later in his piece this will likely result in some deaths among FSOs and that will cause problems in Congress etc. But it is vital if we want to make actual progress. Heck if it was easy everyone would be doing it. There are plenty of FSOs who want to be able to help the Afghan people raise their standard of living somewhere north of the 12th Century, I say cut 'em loose.

The Spirit of the Season, A Miracle For The Season


A few weeks ago, the story was out about Gold Star Mother Linda Ferrara and friends making a load of Blankets of Hope and pulling together other items to go to the wounded at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

That story was, alas, followed almost immediately by news that the donation had been stolen by scum that make pond slime look to be the height of evolution, civility, and reason. Thankfully, there are a lot of mature, thoughtful, tolerant, and just plain good people out there. People not scared of a bit of hard work, sacrifice, and willing to truly embrace diversity and reach out to those they don't even know.

Read of the miracle that is good people coming together. Scouts, veterans, strangers, friends -- they all responded to the challenge posed by the contemptible act with generosity of heart and spirit. Some donated time, some donated funds, and some donated the money that they had planned to spend on friends and family so that others could receive a true gift of the season. I had heard that Rick Schroder was okay; now, I know so. Even better, I have been reminded of that which I know: There are a lot of truly good people out there, and everyone of you who stepped up for this deserve our thanks.

Thanks not only for helping turn this around, but reminding all here and -- most especially -- the wounded that they are loved, honored, and respected.

Go read all the stories, and let them warm your heart and soul this day after Christmas.



Thanks to MaryAnn, there is a bit more to share. Those of you who've been here for a while may remember this post and this video:

Linda Ferrara's son, Captain Matthew Charles Ferrara, was one of those heros. After that video and post, Linda got in touch with Soldiers' Angels and not long after began making blankets and raising other donations for the wounded as a tribute to him. Class. Dignity. Honor. Integrity. Runs in the family.

At West Point Cemetery. From the left: Linda, husband Mario, sons 2LT Damon Ferrara, MAJ Marcus Ferrara, and West Point Cadet Andrew Ferrara, and daughter Simone with Kaitlyn and her husband Pete