“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Terrorism Intelligence Report - Security Contractors in Iraq: Tactical -- and Practical -- Considerations

Security Contractors in Iraq: Tactical -- and Practical -- Considerations

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

As Stratfor CEO George Friedman discussed Oct. 9, some specific geopolitical forces have prompted changes in the structure of the U.S. armed forces -- to the extent that private contractors have become essential to the execution of a sustained military campaign. Indeed, in addition to providing security for diplomats and other high-value personnel, civilian contractors conduct an array of support functions in Iraq, including vehicle maintenance, laundry services and supply and logistics operations.

Beyond the military bureaucracy and the geopolitical processes acting upon it, another set of dynamics is behind the growing use of civilian contractors to protect diplomats in Iraq. These factors include the type and scope of the U.S. diplomatic mission in the country; the nature of the insurgency and the specific targeting of diplomats; and the limited resources available to the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). Because of these factors, unless the diplomatic mission to Iraq is dramatically changed or reduced, or the U.S. Congress takes action to radically enlarge the DSS, the services of civilian security contractors will be required in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Those contractors provide flexibility in tailoring the force that full-time security officers do not.

Civilians in a War Zone

Although it is not widely recognized, the protection of diplomats in dangerous places is a civilian function and has traditionally been carried out by civilian agents. With rare exceptions, military forces simply do not have the legal mandate or specialized training required to provide daily protection details for diplomats. It is not what soldiers do. A few in the U.S. military do possess that specialized training, and they could be assigned to the work under the DSS, but with wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, they currently are needed for other duties.

For the U.S. government, then, the civilian entity responsible for protecting diplomatic missions and personnel is the DSS. Although the agency's roots go back to 1916, Congress dramatically increased its size and responsibility, and renamed it the DSS, in 1985 in response to a string of security incidents, including the attacks against the U.S. embassies in Lebanon and Kuwait, and the security debacle over a new embassy building in Moscow. The DSS ranks swelled to more than 1,000 special agents by the late 1980s, though they were cut back to little more than 600 by the late 1990s as part of the State Department's historical cycle of security booms and busts. Following 9/11, DSS funding was again increased, and currently there are about 1,400 DSS agents assigned to 159 foreign countries and 25 domestic offices.

The DSS protects more dignitaries than any other agency, including the U.S. Secret Service. Its list of protectees includes the secretary of state, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and the approximately 150 foreign dignitaries who visit the United States each year for events such as the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) session. It also provides hundreds of protective details overseas, many of them operating day in and day out in dangerous locations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Colombia, the Gaza Strip, Pakistan and nearly every other global hot spot. The DSS also from time to time has been assigned by presidential directives to provide stopgap protection to vulnerable leaders of foreign countries who are in danger of assassination, such as the presidents of Haiti and Afghanistan.

The DSS is charged by U.S. statute with providing this protection to diplomats and diplomatic facilities overseas, and international conventions such as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations permit civilian agents to provide this kind of security. Because of this, there has never been any question regarding the status or function of DSS special agents. They have never been considered "illegal combatants" because they do not wear military uniforms, even in the many instances when they have provided protection to diplomats traveling in war zones.

Practically, the DSS lacks enough of its own agents to staff all these protective details. Although the highest-profile protective details, such as that on the secretary of state, are staffed exclusively by DSS agents, many details must be augmented by outside personnel. Domestically, some protective details at the UNGA are staffed by a core group of DSS agents that is augmented by deputy U.S. marshals and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Overseas, local police officers who operate under the supervision of DSS agents often are used.

It is not unusual to see a protective detail comprised of two Americans and eight or 10 Peruvian investigative police officers, or even a detail of 10 Guatemalan national police officers with no DSS agents except on moves to dangerous areas. In some places, including Beirut, the embassy contracts its own local security officers, who then work for the DSS agents. In other places, where it is difficult to find competent and trustworthy local hires, the DSS augments its agents with contractors brought in from the United States. Well before 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the DSS was using contractors in places such as Gaza to help fill the gaps between its personnel and its protective responsibilities.

Additionally, for decades the DSS has used contract security officers to provide exterior guard services for U.S. diplomatic missions. In fact, contract guards are at nearly every U.S. diplomatic mission in the world. Marine Security Guards also are present at many missions, but they are used only to maintain the integrity of the sensitive portions of the buildings -- the exterior perimeter is protected by contract security guards. Of course, there are far more exterior contract guards (called the "local guard force") at critical threat posts such as Baghdad than there are at quiet posts such as Nassau, Bahamas.

Over the many years that the DSS has used contract guards to help protect facilities and dignitaries, it has never received the level of negative feedback as it has during the current controversy over the Blackwater security firm. In fact, security contractors have been overwhelmingly successful in protecting those placed in their charge, and many times have acted heroically. Much of the current controversy has to do with the size and scope of the contractor operations in Iraq, the situation on the ground and, not insignificantly, the political environment in Washington.

The Iraq Situation

With this operational history in mind, then, we turn to Iraq. Unlike Desert Storm in 1991, in which the U.S. military destroyed Iraq's military and command infrastructure and then left the country, the decision this time was to destroy the military infrastructure and effect regime change, but stay and rebuild the nation. Setting aside all the underlying geopolitical issues, the result of this decision was that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has become the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in the world, with some 1,000 Americans working there.

Within a few months of the invasion, however, the insurgents and militants in Iraq made it clear that they would specifically target diplomats serving in the country in order to thwart reconstruction efforts. In August 2003, militants attacked the Jordanian Embassy and the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad with large vehicle bombs. The attack against the U.N building killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N.'s high commissioner for human rights in Iraq. The U.N. headquarters was hit again in September 2003, and the Turkish Embassy was attacked the following month. The U.S. Embassy and diplomats also have been consistently targeted, including by an October 2004 mortar attack that killed DSS Special Agent Ed Seitz and a November 2004 attack that killed American diplomat James Mollen near Baghdad's Green Zone. DSS Agent Stephen Sullivan was killed, along with three security contractors, in a suicide car bombing against an embassy motorcade in Mosul in September 2005. The people being protected by Sullivan and the contractors survived the attack.

And diplomatic targets continue to be attacked. The Polish ambassador's motorcade was recently attacked, as was the Polish Embassy. (The embassy was moved into the Green Zone this week because of the continuing threat against it.) The Polish ambassador, by the way, also was protected by a detail that included contract security officers, demonstrating that the U.S. government is not the only one using contractors to protect diplomats in Iraq. There also are thousands of foreign nationals working on reconstruction projects in Iraq, and most are protected by private security contractors. The Iraqi government and U.S. military simply cannot keep them safe from the forces targeting them.

In addition to the insurgents and militants who have set their sights on U.S. and foreign diplomats and businesspeople, there are a number of opportunistic criminal gangs that kidnap foreigners and either hold them for ransom or sell them to militants. If the U.S. government wants its policy of rebuilding Iraq to have any chance of success, it needs to keep diplomats -- who, as part of their mission, oversee the contractors working on reconstruction projects -- safe from the criminals and the forces that want to thwart the reconstruction.

Practical motivations aside, keeping diplomats safe in Iraq also has political and public relations dimensions. The kidnappings and deaths of U.S. diplomats are hailed by militants as successes, and at this juncture also could serve to inflame sentiments among Americans opposed to the Bush administration's Iraq policy. Hence, efforts are being made to avoid such scenarios at all costs.

Reality Check

Due to enormity of the current threat and the sheer size and scope of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the DSS currently employs hundreds of contract security officers in the country. Although the recent controversy has sparked some calls for a withdrawal of all security contractors from Iraq, such drastic action is impossible in practical terms. Not only would it require many more DSS agents in Iraq than there are now, it would mean pulling agents from every other diplomatic post and domestic field office in the world. This would include all the agents assigned to critical and high-terrorism-threat posts in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Lebanon; all agents assigned to critical crime-threat posts such as Guatemala and Mexico; and those assigned to critical counterintelligence-threat posts such as Beijing and Moscow. The DSS also would have to abandon its other responsibilities, such as programs that investigate passport and visa fraud, which are a critical part of the U.S government's counterterrorism efforts. The DSS' Anti-Terrorism Assistance and Rewards for Justice programs also are important tools in the war on terrorism that would have to be scrapped under such a scenario.

Although the current controversy will not cause the State Department to stop using private contractors, the department has mandated that one DSS agent be included in every protective motorcade.

Since 2003, contractors working for the DSS in Iraq have conducted many successful missions in a very dangerous environment. Motorcades in Iraq are frequently attacked, and the contractors regularly have to deal with an ambiguous opponent who hides in the midst of a population that is also typically heavily armed. At times, they also must confront those heavily armed citizens who are fed up with being inconvenienced by security motorcades. In an environment in which motorcades are attacked by suicide vehicle bombs, aggressive drivers also pose tactical problems because they clearly cannot be allowed to approach the motorcade out of fear that they could be suicide bombers. The nature of insurgent attacks necessitates aggressive rules of engagement.

Contractors also do not have the same support structure as military convoys, so they cannot call for armor support when their convoys are attacked. Although some private outfits do have light aviation support, they do not have the resources of Army aviation or the U.S. Air Force. Given these factors, the contractors have suffered remarkably few losses in Iraq for the number of missions they have conducted.

It is clear that unless the United States changes its policy in Iraq or Congress provides funding for thousands of new special agents, contract security officers will be required to fill the gap between the DSS' responsibilities and its available personnel for the foreseeable future. Even if thousands of agents were hired now to meet the current need in Iraq, the government could be left in a difficult position should the security situation improve or the United States dramatically reduced its presence in the country. Unlike permanent hires, the use of contractors provides the DSS with the flexibility to tailor its force to meet its needs at a specific point in time.

The use of contractors clearly is not without problems, but it also is not without merits.

Distribution and Reprints

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Considerations"
    1 Comment - Show Original Post

    desert rat said...
    BAGHDAD, Oct. 9 — Two women died here on Tuesday when their white Oldsmobile was riddled by automatic gunfire from guards for a private security company, just weeks after a shooting by another company strained relations between the United States and Iraq.

    The guards involved in the Tuesday shooting were working for an Australian-run security company. But the people they were assigned to protect work under the same United States government agency whose security guards sprayed bullets across a crowded Baghdad square on Sept. 16, an episode that caused an uproar among Iraqi officials and is still being investigated by the United States.

    In the Tuesday shooting, as many as 40 bullets struck the car, killing the driver and the woman in the front seat on the passenger side. A woman and a boy in the back seat survived, according to witnesses and local police officials in the Karada neighborhood, where the shooting took place on a boulevard lined with appliance stores, tea shops and money changers.

    American government officials said the guards had been hired to protect financial and policy experts working for an organization under contract with the United States Agency for International Development, a quasi-independent State Department agency that does extensive aid work in Iraq.

    The organization, RTI International, is in Iraq to carry out what is ultimately a State Department effort to improve local government and democratic institutions. But a Bush administration official said the State Department bore no responsibility for overseeing RTI’s security operations.

    “A.I.D. does not direct the security arrangements of its contractors,” the official said. “These groups are contractually responsible for the safety and security of their employees. That responsibility falls entirely on the contractor.”

    A priest and relatives near the scene said that all of the people in the car were Armenian Christians, who make up a small minority group in Iraq. The Oldsmobile was shot once in the radiator, witnesses said, in front of a plumbing supply store as it approached a convoy of white sport utility vehicles 50 yards away.

    As the car kept rolling, a barrage of gunfire suddenly tore through its hood, roof and windshield, as well as the passenger side.

    The guards who were in the convoy work for Unity Resources Group, an Australian-run company that has its headquarters in Dubai and is registered in Singapore, according to a statement by the company. Unity Resources was hired by RTI to provide security in Iraq.

    In its statement, Unity Resources said that according to its initial information, the car had approached the convoy “at speed” and failed to stop in response to hand signals and a warning flare.

    “Finally shots were fired at the vehicle and it stopped,” the company said.

  3. At issue is whether intelligence that Israel presented months ago to the White House — to support claims that Syria had begun early work on what could become a nuclear weapons program with help from North Korea — was conclusive enough to justify military action by Israel and a possible rethinking of American policy toward the two nations.

    The debate has fractured along now-familiar fault lines, with Vice President Dick Cheney and conservative hawks in the administration portraying the Israeli intelligence as credible and arguing that it should cause the United States to reconsider its diplomatic overtures to Syria and North Korea.

    By contrast, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her allies within the administration have said they do not believe that the intelligence presented so far merits any change in the American diplomatic approach.

    “Some people think that it means that the sky is falling,” a senior administration official said. “Others say that they’re not convinced that the real intelligence poses a threat.”

    Several current and former officials, as well as outside experts, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the intelligence surrounding the Israeli strike remains highly classified.

    Besides Ms. Rice, officials said that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was cautious about fully endorsing Israeli warnings that Syria was on a path that could lead to a nuclear weapon. Others in the Bush administration remain unconvinced that a nascent Syrian nuclear program could pose an immediate threat.

    It has long been known that North Korean scientists have aided Damascus in developing sophisticated ballistic missile technology, and there appears to be little debate that North Koreans frequently visited a site in the Syrian desert that Israeli jets attacked Sept. 6. Where officials disagree is whether the accumulated evidence points to a Syrian nuclear program that poses a significant threat to the Middle East.

    Mr. Cheney and his allies have expressed unease at the decision last week by President Bush and Ms. Rice to proceed with an agreement to supply North Korea with economic aid in return for the North’s disabling its nuclear reactor. Those officials argued that the Israeli intelligence demonstrates that North Korea cannot be trusted. They also argue that the United States should be prepared to scuttle the agreement unless North Korea admits to its dealing with the Syrians.

    During a breakfast meeting on Oct. 2 at the White House, Ms. Rice and her chief North Korea negotiator, Christopher R. Hill, made the case to President Bush that the United States faced a choice: to continue with the nuclear pact with North Korea as a way to bring the secretive country back into the diplomatic fold and give it the incentive to stop proliferating nuclear material; or to return to the administration’s previous strategy of isolation, which detractors say left North Korea to its own devices and led it to test a nuclear device last October.

    Mr. Cheney and Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, also attended the meeting, administration officials said.

    The Israeli strike occurred at a particularly delicate time for American diplomatic efforts. In addition to the North Korean nuclear negotiations, the White House is also trying to engineer a regional Middle East peace conference that would work toward a comprehensive peace accord between Arabs and Israelis.

    The current and former American officials said Israel presented the United States with intelligence over the summer about what it described as nuclear activity in Syria. Officials have said Israel told the White House shortly in advance of the September raid that it was prepared to carry it out, but it is not clear whether the White House took a position then about whether the attack was justified.

    One former top Bush administration official said Israeli officials were so concerned about the threat posed by a potential Syrian nuclear program that they told the White House they could not wait past the end of the summer to strike the facility.

    Last week, Turkish officials traveled to Damascus to present the Syrian government with the Israeli dossier on what was believed to be a Syrian nuclear program, according to a Middle East security analyst in Washington. The analyst said that Syrian officials vigorously denied the intelligence and said that what the Israelis hit was a storage depot for strategic missiles.

  4. Meanwhile, on the
    GWB's Watch,
    Poor old Dr. Z and bin have been reduced from an imposing single training camp in Afghanistan, to a puny 30 in Pakistan, home of the Jihad's Crown Jewels.

    Does anyone seriously believe this could have occured with Clinton in office?
    The right-wing blogs and talk radio alone would have lit his ass up enough to prevent it.
    ...even with Pub Geldings and Tap-Dancers in DC.
    Some on the right still think history will compare this pathetic "leader" to Churchill.
    Har de har!

  5. Maybe President Jorge should bring Blackwater Boys back to the homefront to protect the innoncent drug and flesh runners from the south from the evil Minutemen and ever-intimidating Lactating Mothers with Childen.
    Everybody to get from Street!
    All your citizens belong to us.

  6. "Where officials disagree is whether the accumulated evidence points to a Syrian nuclear program that poses a significant threat to the Middle East"
    Mere Korean Missiles w/Saddam's leftover War Gas, oth, should be no problemo for the Joos.

  7. That's why they went ahead and let the Israeli deal with whatever it was, doug.

    But we must move forward with reconciliation. With Syria, NorKs, and Mr al-Sadr.

    What's funny at the BC, people wondering when the US will "deal" with al-Sadr. As in kill him ...

    So funny, blinded to reality of US policy by their own projections.

  8. Yes, but another wing is the All's Well Chorus, heartened by occasional comments by W such as "Islam's Death Throes"
    (Remember when the insurgency was all over but the mopping up several years ago?)

    Produces Flowery Predictions such as:
    nugzuaBeyond the Rim,

    "You hit on a very good point, Demographic Warfare. This is the method used on Israel by the "Palestinians". With mulitiple wives and with Europe's low birth rate, the vision of Eurabia is also possible.

    The death throes of Islam mentioned in an earlier comment is cogent. From my vantage point a reformation of Islam is occuring.

    The larger problem is the belief of each religion being supreme. As long as competition is non-violent missionary work and competition in doing good for humanity, there is hope and pleasure for The Most High.

    Salaam eleikum all Y'all!"

  9. Perhaps he was being sarcastic?
    We can hope!

  10. The Domestic Intelligence Imperative
    Something is wrong when sharing requires breaking the law...

  11. Cries in the Wilderness:
    "Forget the Diversity. Islam is the Problem."
    Mr Frum is no longer in the employ of Mr Bush:
    "Inspiring rhetoric and solemn promises can do only so much for an incumbent administration.
    Can it win wars?
    Can it respond to natural disasters?
    Can it safeguard the nation’s borders?
    Can it fill positions of responsibility with worthy appointees?
    If it cannot do those things, not even the most sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation can save it."
    Building a Coalition, Forgetting to Rule
    " Mr. Rove often reminded me of a miner extracting the last nuggets from an exhausted seam. His attempts to prospect a new motherlode have led the Republican party into the immigration debacle.

    In my brief service as a speechwriter inside the Bush administration, I often wondered why it was that skeptical experts on issues like immigration could never get even a hearing for their point of view. We took the self-evident brilliance of our plans so much for granted that we would not even meet, for example, with conservative academics who had the facts and figures to demonstrate the illusion of Rovian hopes for a breakthrough among Hispanic voters. We were so mesmerized by the specious analogies between 1996 and 1896 that we forgot that analogies are literary devices, not evidence.

    In 2006, Republicans and conservatives paid the price for this we-know-best attitude. I fear that we will pay an even higher price in 2008.

  12. If the GOPers do not show some imagination, they are going down with the ship.

    The pieces are there, but I do not see anyone with much imagination on the bridge. Let alone in command.

    When the GOP hopes all rest on Ms Clinton being the Dem nominee, a totally negative campaign, their prospects for victory look slim.

    Especially if the Christians stay home in protest of Rudy's or Fred's marital history. Or even dumber, their stand on abortion, which is not even a Presidental issue or responsibility. If it were, Ronnie Reagan would have squared it away.

    He was a pro-life President that had right around 8 million abortions occur on his watch.

  13. On the home front New Scanning Device being tested at airports.

    This device, if used, would spell the end of air travel for many women, I would quess.

  14. the intelligence agencies of neighboring Arab states [Sunnis] send their agents to liquidate Shiite figures and target religious authorities in the south to sow confusion and insecurity amongst Shiites

    ...In the provinces of Southern Iraq conditions are radically different, the Iraqi population is Shia, partially sympathetic to Iran, the terrain becomes flat desert and flood plains the US forces are not present in strength. The British who had occupied the area are minimising their presence to Basra airport.
    A key assessment in any war with Iran concerns Basra province and the Kuwait border. It is likely that Iran and its sympathizers could take control of population centres and interrupt oil supplies, if it was in their interest to do so.

    However it is unlikely that they could make any sustained effort against Kuwait or interrupt supply lines north from Kuwait to central Iraq. US firepower is simply too great for any Iranian conventional force. Facing the dozen or more Iranian army divisions and Revolutionary Guard Units, the US Army has extremely powerful and virtually unused missile units already in Iraq that can attack targets up to 300 km inside Iran without warning.

    The US Army’s mobile Multiple Launch Rocket System basic system can fire 1,400 cluster munitions at targets 300 kilometres every fifteen minutes and 8,000 cluster munitions every fifteen minutes to 32km. Its guided weapons version can deliver a 12 “70 kilometre sniper shot” in the same period of time. This GMLRS XM30 rocket has a GPS (Global Positioning System) and inertial guidance package. The system can also fire two Army Tactical Missile System Block IA missile extends the range to more than 300km by reducing the sub-munition payload and adding GPS guidance.

    Thus, these highly accurate ballistic missiles can attack targets up to 300 km inside Iran. Well known locations such as the nuclear research facility at Arak and the Northern city of Tabriz are within easy range of US Army ballistic missiles now in Iraq. It is hard to imagine that any US attack on Iran would not make use of these forces.

    - Dr Dan Plesch and Martin Butcher
    September 2007

  15. Principle, 'Rat:
    We must cast a princepled ballot.
    James Dobson
    I hereby cast a virtual vote for Hillary to show that I am more pro-life than thee.

  16. Even as work on the proposed resolution is to continue at an Oct. 17 meeting of senior diplomats in Europe, Putin said Wednesday that Russia was not convinced Iran is trying to create nuclear weapons.

    His comments came after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose government is firmly behind the U.S. sanctions drive, and appeared to deal a new blow to efforts to forge a consensus.

    "We have no objective data that Iran is seeking to make atomic weapons," Putin said. "Therefore, we proceed from the assumption that Iran has no such plans."

    Ms Rice, however, stressed that Russia had signed on to the Sept. 28 agreement to consider new sanctions in November and said she did not "expect that there is any deviation from that course at this point" from the Russian side.

    She also noted that Russia had in the past demonstrated its concern about Iran's program by limiting its cooperation to prevent Tehran from acquiring a full nuclear fuel cycle that could be used to produce weapons-grade material.

    "That concern was seen very clearly in Russia's offer to Iran to enrich and reprocess in a joint venture and to bring back any spent fuel so that the fuel cycle wouldn't be available to Iran," she said. "I think there is a reason for that and that is suspicion about Iran's intentions."

    Mr Putin says there is no evidence, Ms Rice agrees, says there are suspicions about Iran's intentions.

    Suspicions ...

    Based upon those Suspicions, she KNOWS the Iranians are lying about their intentions.

    But still, there is no evidence of Iranian intentions beyond electrical power generation.

    Which the Iranians sorely need, have since Dick Cheney was SecDef and the Shah was going to get 23 reactors, from GE.
    They needed that electrical power, then, they still do.

  17. I'm pro-life as I'm opposed to killing innocent people for personal convience.

    Since I consider a fetus, over about 4 months gestation, to be a person.

    The US Government disagrees, considering a fetus to be nonviable tissue mass, until the entire body passes through the birth canal, and enters the open air enviorment.

    Seems rather strange to me, that definition of human life, but there it is. A lot like genocide, depends on what we decide, as a Nation, certain words mean, like "is".

    Those Christians never were Republicans, just sold a bill of goods, that they've never had a chance to recieve.

    Sold down the river, by the Compassionate one and the GOP Congress of 2000 - 2006.

    I can understand their reluctance to be used and abused, again. Without adequate recompence.
    But they'll be ever further from their goal, if Ms Clinton recieves White House tenancy.

    Incrementally further away with each Clinton appointed Supreme

  18. Seems the whole Middle East is going to get increased electrical power...

    Iran and the nuclearization of the Middle East

    and some states want to share that technology with other states such as Sudan.

    Lots of Suspicions

    ...As Arab news channels began grainy replays of the unauthorized camera footage that revealed the execution to have been not so much dignified as gleefully revengeful, a news-blackout held in Tehran. Iranians were left uninformed by their national broadcaster that Hussein's dying curse had condemned America and--in place of Israel--Iran. They were clueless that they were being described in the Middle East by epithets such as the "Eastern tide", "Safavids" (the 16th century Persian empire that adopted Shi'ite Islam as the state dogma) and the "Persian menace".
    - Iason Athanasiadis

    Shindand is not Tehran's only worry. In Pakistan, the Pervez Musharraf government has allowed the commercial airport at Jacobabad, about 420km north of Karachi and 420km southeast of Kandahar, as one of three Pakistani bases used by US and allied forces to support their campaign in Afghanistan. The other bases are at Dalbandin and Pasni. Under the terms of an agreement with Pakistan, the allied forces can use these bases for search and rescue missions, but are not permitted to use them to stage attacks on Taliban targets. Both Jacobabad and Pasni bases have been sealed off and a five-kilometer cordon set up around the bases by Pakistani security forces.
    - Ramtanu Maitra

  19. New York Film Festival: Upheaval in Iran

    Japan's Welfare Model

    In his first year as a case worker, Mr. Fujiyabu recalled, a woman in her 50s, smelling of alcohol, asked for assistance. “I was told by my supervisor, ‘You know, don’t you think someone like that is better off dead?’”

    “2 a.m. My belly’s empty,” he wrote on May 25, some 45 days after his benefits were cut. “I want to fill my belly with rice balls.”

    He added: “Weight is also down from 68 kilograms to 54 kilograms” — from 150 pounds to 119.

    But the dead man’s next-door neighbor, Yoshiaki Kita, 72, said the city had handled his case appropriately.

    “He may have starved to death, but I believe he reaped what he sowed,” Mr. Kita said. “He was still young, so he could have taken on any job to feed himself.”

    Mr. Kita — who had once seen corpses in his job as a general contractor — had guessed from the stench that his neighbor had died. He had watched swallows fly out of the broken house with greenbottle flies in their beaks.

    A friend found the dead man’s corpse on July 10, long after his last diary entry on June 5. In his diary, the man dreamed of rice balls to the end. To most Japanese, rice balls, which are now sold in convenience stores, were traditionally a snack that mothers usually made by hand: a ball of rice, wrapped in seaweed with perhaps a red plum buried inside, to be eaten during a hiking trip or some other pleasant activity.

    “My belly’s empty,” read the diary’s last entry. “I want to eat a rice ball. I haven’t eaten rice in 25 days.”
    Ted Nugent should go teach them survival skills!

  20. BOBALHARB: This device, if used, would spell the end of air travel for many women, I would quess.

    Damn right. I want my pat down, dammits!

  21. No hyperbole; but, does anybody know the truth about that border "fence?"

    Is it really a "fence," or is it 370 miles of interspersed auto barriers, with some fencing thrown in from time, to time?

  22. Well, those Arab States should fire up the nuclear generators, they are so much "Greener" than petrochemicals.

    Everyone at the BC claims the Arabs will be out of oil in 50 years or so, maybe less. So electrical generation, via the atom, it's really the only way for them to go.

    Not many more hydro-electric opportunities there, in the desert.

    The Peaceful atom, energy so cheap that is almost free. Or so they said in my youth.

    The Iranians will be sharing their technological expertise, with Venezuela, Cuba and a host of other needy folks around the world.

    It'll take more than suspicions and Israeli intel to sway the world or even the US.

    Or NorK would still be a terrorist sponsor State, not the newest client of US largess.

  23. From the local tv reporting, rufus, from the border, it's mostly vehicle barriers, cameras stationed well away (miles) from the actual border and some actual fencing near the towns.

    Not a civil version of the Israeli "fence", nor even an old fashion triple concertina wire fence.
    I built a lot of that type fence, in my youth, a mile a day of two triples with 50 meters between is nothing for a Nation to build, if it was a priority.

    I have not driven down to "El Camino del Diablo" to look for myself.

  24. :O Would you hop in one of those see through booths Ms. T? I'm pretty sure my wife wouldn't. I'll ask her tomorrow, making a bet with myself.

    Seems to me life is a continuum, and begins at conception, where all the potential is that it's ever gonna have, and ends, or transforms, at what we think of as death. The question isn't when it begins, but whether it has any value.

  25. Thanks, Rat. That's kind of what I suspected. They're "Selling it" as a fence. There will be an uproar when the troops find out what they're Really doing.

  26. Bobalharb: Seems to me life is a continuum, and begins at conception, where all the potential is that it's ever gonna have, and ends, or transforms, at what we think of as death. The question isn't when it begins, but whether it has any value.

    Certainly life has value to any creature with a working self-preservation instinct, Moose Limb suicide bombers excepted. The most devout Christian is looking forward to meeting Jesus, but not quite yet, thank you. And that's fine, there are good things here in this world.

  27. BOBAL: :O Would you hop in one of those see through booths Ms. T? I'm pretty sure my wife wouldn't. I'll ask her tomorrow, making a bet with myself.

    Sure, I would walk through one of those Total Recall x-ray vision things. We are no longer the Home of the Brave, so we must give up all pretensions of being the Land of the Free.

  28. Turkey crosses national border in response to PKK cross border attacks, and is justified in doing so?

    The UN and NATO remain silent.

    Interesting scenario for other nations in the region.

    ..."In the ISR world, there will be more and different things we will try out," says a senior Navy official. To the surprise of acquisition officials, many of the capabilities developed for the Navy and Air Force will see their first, extensive operational use in support of the Army, he says.

    At the heart of the effort will be unmanned and manned aircraft networked to a greater degree than ever before. However, that doesn't mean a large number of UAVs will be shipped to Iraq even though they are available. The bottleneck is in the U.S. There the shortage of "cockpits" and aircrews (located at Nellis AFB, and Creech AFB, Nev.) needed to fly the unmanned systems operating in Iraq and Afghanistan is the limiting factor.

    Those monitoring these programs say there will be additional UAVs deployed, including some new designs; but primarily changes will involve improved ISR capabilities for existing UAVs such as the Global Hawk and Predator. Another thrust will be the addition of improved network-centric warfare systems that, by linking the output of many platforms, can provide wider coverage and better situational awareness for the ground troops.

    Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk Flies New Electronic Signal Intelligence Sensor

    Israel used electronic attack in air strike against Syrian mystery target

    Smack 'em Flattens Targets

  29. The Fence:
    When they gave their 300 mile lie, they included PRE-EXISTING FENCE!

    Picture of some actual new fence that I saw looked like the Cyclone fence at our Nike base in Kansas that I accidentally drove through with a Farmall!

    But those dumb Mexicans'll never figure out a way.

  30. Scratch that:
    Make that those
    Dumb Dubya Dhimmi Gringos.

  31. If the US was justified to preemptively invade Iraq, the Turks are more than justified to invade it, reactively.

    They have more than enough cause to justify crossing the border to destroy the Kurdish infrastructure that supports the PKK.

    If the PKK is using US weapons, by many peoples standards in the blogsphere and reportedly Mr Cheney's, vis a vie Iran, Iraq & US, they could justifiably attack US logistical trains and warehouses, preemptively, to stop the flow of US weaponry to the terrorists.

    Wouldn't that be an interesting case of the pot callin' the kettle black.

  32. Oh, my view on the Democrat Genocide Ploy.
    Really stupid and destructive AT THIS TIME.

    Just one more example of old Kick the Can Bush:
    If he had made good his vow the day after he got in, it woulda been water under the bridge.

    Looking back, it's been all downhill since Tora Bora, with Bush bending over for Lawyers, Muzzies, Mexicans, Dems, or John McCain, ever since.

  33. He should have made that announcement, doug, the day after the 4th ID headed south via the Suez and not overland.

    Keeping his word, not one of GW's strong points.

  34. I assume that the Turks are still massed on the Iraqi frontier.

    Waiting for an opportunity to "Save" the Turkman minority in Kirkurk.

    Then they'd not have to import any more oil, they'd own all they needed. Draw a few different lines on the map.

    The return of the Ottomans and stability through strength. Or genocide, depending upon the definition of "is".

  35. They have more than enough cause to justify crossing the border to destroy the Kurdish infrastructure that supports the PKK.

    They have more than enough cause to justify crossing the border to destroy the Iranian infrastructure that supports Iraqi militias/Quds force members.

    Petraeus: 'Show me' if Iran has stopped supplying Iraqi insurgents

  36. The storyline, the US being unable to control the Iraq/Turkey border area from terrorist organizations that repeatedly cross that border to kill Turks, the Turks have to take it upon themselves to do so.

    Totally justified.
    Then, as per the US example, they could not leave until the Turkman minority in Iraq was safe and secure.
    Which would never be the case. Just like the West Bank.
    Just like Gaza.
    Just like Baghdad

    Only the Turks wouldn't take the crap the Israeli or the US does, from the occupied peoples.
    They'd kill 'em.

    Old school, those Turks.

  37. Justification alone does not always make for good decisons.

    If the US were to go to war with Iran, if the Congress approved, then the US should destroy Iran's ability to function, on any level.

    But the Congress won't Authorize, I don't think. If the President orders a war on his own Authority, it be an impeachable offense, I think.

    But I don't even play a lawyer on tv.

  38. ...The long-suffering and persecuted Kurds...have agitated both militarily and politically for greater autonomy or independence in the countries where they have been oppressed:

    Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran.

    The PKK is to some the torchbearer of the Kurdish struggle agsinst oppressors.

    Land for peace? Right?

  39. Even FDR, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, went to Congress for a Declaration of War.

    There is no "emergency" or lack of lead time to go to Congress, if there is a dase for war with Iran.

    Mr Romney was way off base, Rudy as well, to think that the President can order up a war with a soveriegn country without Congressional approval, regardless of his lawyers opinions.

    The Constitution is clear on who has authority to declare a state of war exists. That'd be Congress, not the President.

  40. Not to the US, the PKK is a terrorist organization, like Hezbollah and Hamas.
    On the same list.

    While many feel the Kurds are justified to seek independence and their own Nation State they cannot be justified to use terror in their cause.

    One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.

    Matter of perception. The US percieves the PKK to be terrorists. They are on the list.

    North Korea no longer is. So there is hope that the PKK can reform their methods, choose the path of peace and reconciliation, like North Korea, then recieve US largess, legally.

  41. THat and the United States opposes a free Kurdistan, it is in our "vital interests" that there is not.

    Our actions in Iraq prove that.

  42. We are no longer the Home of the Brave, so we must give up all pretensions of being the Land of the Free.


    We are no longer the Land of the Free, so we must give up all pretensions of being the Home of the Brave?

  43. Screw the Kurds. They've got "something" going on with the Qods, and, I'll betcha, has had for a long time. They're just as sleazy, and bloody as the rest. It just suited their agenda to be on the "right side" of uncle sugar for awhile.

  44. What would be the response of Congress to a mass casuality event?

    Indeed, it is possible that Iran would be able to predict a coming attack and begin hostilities itself. As the Atlantic Monthly wrote in 2004:
    Thomas Hammes, the Marine expert in counterinsurgency, said . "We never 'red-celled' the enemy in this exercise" (that is, let him have the first move), Hammes said after the Iran war game. "What if they try to pre-empt us? What if we threaten them, and the next day we find mines in Baltimore Harbor and the Golden Gate, with a warning that there will be more? Its leaders would have every incentive to strike pre-emptively in their own defense. Unlike Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a threatened Iran would have many ways to harm America and its interests. Apart from cross-border disruptions in Iraq, it might form an outright alliance with al-Qaeda to support major new attacks within the United States. It could work with other oil producers to punish America economically. It could, as Hammes warned, apply the logic of "asymmetric," or "fourth-generation," warfare, in which a superficially weak adversary avoids a direct challenge to U.S. military power and instead strikes the most vulnerable points in American civilian society, as al-Qaeda did on 9/11. If it thought that the U.S. goal was to install a wholly new regime rather than to change the current regime's behavior, it would have no incentive for restraint. That Iran would seek to destabilize Iraq, and hit out at US forces and interest there, is a common assumption amongst analysts and planners. Iran has close links with Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army; helped form and trained the Badr brigades, which fought against Saddam and have now mostly been absorbed into security forces in Basra and other areas of southern Iraq; as well as with the Dawa Party of prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and with many other politicians. Their ability to send Revolutionary Guards and others into Iraq to work with their allies and foment a major uprising against the coalition forces there should not be understated. It is also likely that Iranian allies in Afghanistan would carry out similar actions, although on a much smaller scale.

    Most analysts also assume that Iran would also push Hezbollah to attack Israel and look for other ways to hit back.

    The Center for Non-proliferation Studies published just such an analysis: On July 5, 2004, during a visit to Hamedan in western Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a crowd of thousands: "the United States says that we have endangered their interests... if anyone invades our nation, we will jeopardize their interests around the world." In December 2003, Iran's Air Force Commander General Seyed Reza Pardis, said in response to statements by Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz that if Israel attacks Iran it will be "digging its own grave." Considering the extensive financial and national policy investment Iran has committed to its nuclear projects, it is almost certain that an attack by Israel would result in immediate retaliation. A likely scenario includes an immediate Iranian missile counterattack on Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf, followed by a very serious effort to destabilize Iraq and foment all-out confrontation between the United States and Iraq's Shi'i majority. Iran could also opt to destabilize Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states with a significant Shi'i population, and induce Lebanese Hizbullah to launch a series of rocket attacks on Northern Israel.

    Iranian missile attacks are to be feared. Iran is thought to have around 500 missiles capable of delivering high explosives, chemical or biological weapons to Israel and to US allies in the Gulf States. As the CNS says:
    .. the destructive potential of these ballistic missile systems should not be underestimated. Although these Scud variants are relatively inaccurate - they are certainly incapable of the pinpoint accuracy associated with U.S. cruise missiles and guided munitions - they do have much greater accuracy and higher payloads than the Iraqi al-Husseins that turned out a mediocre CEP (circular error probability) of 1 to 3km in 1991. Multiple missiles attacks on U.S. or Israeli targets carrying large warheads can potentially be very deadly, as demonstrated by an Iraqi Scud attack on barracks in Saudi Arabia in early 1991. It turned out to be the deadliest such incident of the entire war for U.S. troops, killing 28 and injuring 98. However as discussed in the section “Scud Hunt” above such attacks would not be decisive in the war. They might be able - if not neutralized - to cause significant economic damage in the Gulf region.

  45. It is their country, rufus.
    Mr Talabani says the Ianians that General P cals Quds are Iranian civil servants.

    Which they well may be, also.

  46. dRat,

    The PKK is Turkish intelligence. The PKK is a vehicle to carry out Turkey's genocidal campaign against the Kurds. 30,000 Kurdish communities destroyed, and counting.

  47. The Iranians are no better than the Turks, as it concerns the Kurds. I’m having hard time believing the Kurds would collude with the Iranians.

  48. Exactly, elijah.

    All that, and more.
    Which is why it is up to Congress to decide, for US, not a lameduck or newly elected President.

    The matter was well debated and decided, prior to ratification of the Constitution.
    We do not elect an Emperor.

    If the Congress decides, in the face of Iranian aggression to back off, then the US backs off.

    Elections and the Rule of Law must count, or we'd be living in Russia.

  49. May be, mat, but the US does not recongnize the PKK to be Turkey.

    So they are not.
    From the US perspective.

    The Turks are NATO members, esteemed allies.

    We support the status que, not a return to tribalism, except in the Sunni regions of Iraq. Having failed to meet the original goals of the Occupation.

    Which was putting the Tribes in the dust bin of Iraqi history. US Policy was the Tribes had no place in the "New" Iraq.

    Anbar is now secure, since the US surrendered on it's original Goals and changed course.
    Ending the "War"

  50. Embracing the enemy, and reconciling.
    After surrendering on our core cultural values. Which was that tribalism had to go. Tribes do not a democracy make. Bremmer was right, when the goal was to rebuld Iraq in a democratic image.

    When that was defined as "Victory"

  51. Like a buddy, with about an 850 IQ, said when I started edeecatin him about Sunnis, and Shia, and Kurds, and persians, and whatnot, "They all look like Arabs to me."

    Personally, I think everyone in the White House, the Pentagon, and half the Congress gets on their knees every night, and Prays that the Iranians will attack.

  52. I just pray Trish reads your posts this evening!
    She'll wipe out Columbian Drug Lords on her own with the leftover rage!

  53. It's an ill wind that blows no good, Doug. :)

  54. Bremmer was never right about much of anything:
    The Iraqi Army was not tribal, but highly integrated, with Shia Officers as well as Sunni.

    So the Col had them on them on the payroll, and he decides to make them insurgents instead.
    Like releasing 5 million Prisoners in the US.
    ...just following W's plan in his own way I guess, when EVERYBODY else had a better plan.

  55. "One of the most notorious killers in Topchi, who residents say was a Mahdi Army fighter, Haidar Rahim, was born in 1989. On a hot August afternoon, he and two accomplices shot and killed a woman named Eman, a divorced mother, in front of her house, residents said. The fighters said she was a prostitute, but shortly after her death they brought tenants to rent her house.

    “They are kids with guns, who have cars and money,” said Eman’s neighbor, referring to the fighters. “Being kids, they are tempted by all of this.”
    Like the "Hispanics" in South Central!

  56. I wish that depressed old broad would find a man, or a young boy, or a girl, or "something."

    Jeez, she's getting loonier by the day.

  57. Don't show it to "US," Bob. Send it to Romney, . . . . or, . . . his lawyers, . . . or something.

  58. Legal matter, AlBob:
    Above my pay grade.

  59. Nite Ruf,
    Hope you don't suffer any wet dreams after talking about your honey so close to bedtime!

  60. Nite AlBobAl!
    Aloha (Al)-Akbar.

  61. What, if not that, cutler, did you expect?

    The Brits were the main target, they pulled out, the Iraqi get control of their city. To do with, now, as the Iraqi please.

    The US faced the same situation in Anbar. Once we announced we would not fight the Tribes, but assist them against both aQ and the central Government, the amount of violence directed towards US dropped way off.

    Now the US acts a Peacekeeper and moderator 'tween the Government and the Tribes.

    Combat is over.

    Basra and Anbar are success, the models, but vastly different.

    Granted few of the underlying political problems are solved, but those are Iraqi problems, not British or US problems.
    The Iraqi Government has emerged.
    That emergance exemplified in Basra, but not Anbar.
    There the Sunni Insurgents have been given control of the ground, and we call it success. The Iraqi Government sees it as a US sell out, confirming, to Mr Maliki and the Government, that Professor Lewis's point of the US being an unreliable friend is accurate.

  62. elijah: What would be the response of Congress to a mass casuality event?

    The first declaration of war since World War II.

    Most analysts also assume that Iran would also push Hezbollah to attack Israel and look for other ways to hit back.

    We've been holding Israel back, even under the unspeakable provocation of the Scud attack, and to this day, when rockets rain on Israel from Gaza, we tell Israel not to feed the cycle of violence. If the balloon goes up, no such restraints would exist, and you would see a Middle East military superpower unleashed.

    However as discussed in the section “Scud Hunt” above such attacks would not be decisive in the war. They might be able - if not neutralized - to cause significant economic damage in the Gulf region.

    If Iran starts throwing missiles at tankers, oil prices will spike, but a world recession would be the natural result, led by an American economy that is already tipping over. Then oil would fall to levels not seen since the days of Asian flu, like $8 a barrel, which is NOT in the interests of Saudi Arabia and the gulf emirates. Iran (which does not have enough refinery capacity to supply its own populace with gasoline due to decades of neglect brought on by subsidies) would be facing a blockade. Suddenly Ahmedinejad would have a revolution to deal with and thoughts of ushering in the 12th Iman via a military adventure would be far from his mind.

  63. Excellent article on Iraq today and future prospects.

    Must read for all sides of the Iraq debate.