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The Eagle Went Over The Mountain

Tue, 28 Jul 2009 12:08:00 +0000

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They've Got To Admit, It's Getting Better

Mon, 30 Jul 2007 13:37:00 +0000

From Captains Quarters:
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

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Fri, 20 Jul 2007 14:24:00 +0000

From Captains Quarters:
If it appears rather backwards to have Congress ignore the advice of the military commander on the ground in a war, along with the ambassador and the commander's #2, now we know why the founders made sure that the prosecution of war remained the responsibility of the executive. Congress insisted on benchmarks as their own standard of progress, and the truth is that they did a poor job of selecting them. Confronted with that truth, they have chosen to ignore the men closest to the situation and best able to analyze it in favor of their own flawed presumptions.
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Initial Benchmark Assessment Report

Fri, 13 Jul 2007 06:25:00 +0000

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From the White House

Over 2007 and into 2008, we are focusing on the following core objectives:

  • Defeat al-Qaida and its supporters and ensure that no terrorist safe haven exists in Iraq.
  • Support Iraqi efforts to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad and regain control over the capital.
  • Ensure the territorial integrity of Iraq and counter/limit destructive Iranian and Syrian activity in Iraq.
  • Help safeguard democracy in Iraq by encouraging strong democratic institutions impartially serving all Iraqis and preventing the return of the forces of tyranny.
  • Foster the conditions for Iraqi national reconciliation but with the Iraqi Government clearly in the lead.
  • Continue to strengthen Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and accelerate the transition of security responsibility to the Iraqi Government.
  • Encourage an expanding Iraqi economy, including by helping Iraq maintain and expand its export of oil to support Iraqi development.
  • Promote support for Iraq from its neighbors, the region, and the international community.
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The Bloggers set things right.

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 08:06:00 +0000

From Desert Fliers Blog:

  1. We are here. I won't get into why we initially came, but the fact is irrefutable: here we are with a significant presence in Iraq and the Middle East. We have a foothold in by far the world's most unstable region.

  2. Many brave men and women have lost their lives for this tenuous foothold. After all they and many others have sacrificed, to leave now would be a disservice to them, their families, and all that we want to accomplish: a stable and prosperous Iraqi government free of terrorism.

  3. It sure doesn't seem like it now, but a permanent, or at least long-term, Western presence in the Middle East may lead to significant stabilization of a historically unstable region.

  4. We are heavily investing in Iraq's economy and infrastructure and making progress every week.

  5. Finally, after years of indifference and outright hostility, regional tribes, clans, and sheiks are aligned with us. There were mistakes along the way. The road we initially took was littered with misunderstandings. But week by week, the potholes are disappearing. Like a recently paved interstate, the clans and councils from Baghdad to Anbar are rapidly taking over their own security and governmental processes. Are they self-sufficient and self-reliant. Nope. Not even close. However, if it wasn't for our resources, infrastructure, and corporate knowledge they wouldn't stand a chance to succeed. Pulling out now is a poor option indeed.

  6. Baghdad, and the main government currently in place, is not meeting our benchmarks. However, we also did not meet our own benchmarks: Baghdad and parts of Anbar Province are still wickedly dangerous places. We have a plan to correct that problem, but it's only been in place for a month. The surge needs more than a few weeks before politicians deem it a failure. From where I'm standing, that borders on the ridiculous. Time may prove me wrong, but at least I won't mark my opinions before giving it a chance. The Iraqi government will continue to miss deadlines and benchmarks so long as Baghdad and the surrounding provinces remain unstable.

  7. I finish with a question: we have maintained a presence in Europe for over 50 years. Does the U.S. have a permanent place in Iraq, too?

Progress is slow, I admit. However, who gets to set the timetable for success? Who defines success, and what is it? Right now, there are still many more questions than answers. That is exactly why setting timetables for withdrawl would, in my humble opinion, be a grave mistake. I fear it would spell a total failure and complete negation of my and many others' sacrifice. Our options:

  1. Set a timetable and start phasing troops out of Iraq. This Country is guaranteed to fall into anarchy. Iran will more than likely move in from the East, while Syria moves in from the West. The sectarian squabbling between Shiite and Sunni we see now will pale in comparison to how badly this region would spin out of control. Iraq goes down in history as my generation's Vietnam: an abject failure.
  2. We stay permanently in a few key areas around Iraq. Worst case scenario: Iraq becomes my generation's Cuba. We maintain a presence despite occasional open hostility.
  3. We stay permanently, and Iraq becomes my generation's Europe. We maintain a presence and work hand in hand with the Iraqi government. We patiently wait until they are organized and stable enough to take the lead, and we give them full autonomy while maintaining open-ended leases on a few key military bases

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Top commander expects big Iraq strikes

Tue, 10 Jul 2007 14:12:00 +0000

An interesting article from the
Last year's wave of sectarian killings, which escalated after the February 2006 bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra "really tore the fabric" of Iraqi society, Petraeus said.

"At the national level, progress to foster true reconciliation is still a work in progress," Petraeus said. "In some respects we should recognize that these issues are fundamental, that they are doing it in an environment shaped by very bad sectarian violence" last year.

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After Losses, UBS Ousts Its Chief

Fri, 06 Jul 2007 22:51:00 +0000

From the NYTimes. A lot more information then what you get from the Swiss Media.

Meanwhile, in May, UBS shut down its hedge fund group, Dillon Read, which had started in 2005 amid much fanfare. To quickly build up a presence in the hedge fund industry, UBS transferred many top traders from the investment bank to the hedge fund unit and seeded it with hundreds of millions of dollars of UBS capital. But this year, bad bets in subprime mortgage investments led to losses of $124 million.

UBS was the first Wall Street firm to announce heavy losses in the subprime sector, although it was not the only brokerage firm to do so. Last month, Bear Stearns said that it would provide up to $1.6 billion in secured financing to bail out one of two hedge funds run by its asset management division that had sustained substantial losses in complex loans and securities backed by subprime mortgages.

In the case of UBS, however, what shocked some analysts and investors was the $300 million it cost to close Dillon Read. Of that amount, $200 million went to severance payments and other costs for the hedge fund manager and his team.

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G.I.’s Forge Sunni Tie in Bid to Squeeze Militants

Fri, 06 Jul 2007 06:30:00 +0000

A highly insightful piece of work by Michael R. Gordon from the NYTimes.

Initially, the Americans stood on the sidelines, concerned that they might be witnessing a turf fight among insurgents and militias. “We were not sure what was going on,” Captain Richards recalled. “We were not sure we could trust the people not to turn on us afterwards.”

But after the militants gained the upper hand and more than 1,000 residents began to flee on foot, the Americans moved to prevent the militants from establishing their control throughout the neighborhood. The soldiers called in an airstrike, which demolished a local militant headquarters.

The meeting between the residents and the Americans was Abu Ali’s initiative. The locals wanted ammunition to carry on their fight. Captain Richards had another proposal: the residents should tip off the Americans on which Iraqis belonged to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and where they had buried their bombs.



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Vigilantes target Iraq porn surfers

Wed, 04 Jul 2007 20:06:00 +0000

This post is from Al-Jazeera directly:Spending most of his free time alone, he turned to browsing the internet and soon began surfing online pornography. But that is a decision he now bitterly regrets. Late in May, Abdel-Qahar was kidnapped after leaving an internet cafe. He was blindfolded and taken to a house he believes to be on the outskirts of the capital. "Someone was sitting near me at the internet cafe and probably was an extremist spy. He saw when I was watching some erotic movies and when I left the place I was immediately taken in a car with three men," the 23-year-old engineering student said. He recalled that he was beaten with an iron bar and belt and forced to drink chicken blood and his own urine. "They told me to take off all my clothes and handcuffed me. They started to beat me and use cigarettes to burn my legs. "I was desperate and was shouting asking why they were doing that with me and after three hours of continuous torture they told me that it was because I was watching non-Muslim sites on the internet," he said.[...]



Big Media Does Not Care.

Wed, 04 Jul 2007 08:52:00 +0000

From Michael Yon Online in relation to this original post:

The name of the village was not on any maps I examined while preparing the dispatch, but Colonel Hiduit said the name is al Hamira. Coordinates to the area of the gravesites are MC 679 381.

...
But for those publications who actually had people embedded in Baqubah when the story first broke and still failed to cover it, their malaise is inexplicable. I do not know why all failed to report the murders and booby-trapped village: apparently no reporters bothered to go out there, even though it’s only about 3.5 miles from this base. Any one of the reporters currently in Baqubah could still go to these coordinates and follow his or her nose and find the gravesites.

...
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The US and A are still No 1.

Fri, 29 Jun 2007 17:46:00 +0000

From this weeks Economist.

If America were a stock, it would be a “buy”: an undervalued market leader, in need of new management. But that points to its last great strength. More than any rival, America corrects itself. Under pressure from voters, Mr Bush has already rediscovered some of the charms of multilateralism; he is talking about climate change; a Middle East peace initiative is possible. Next year's presidential election offers a chance for renewal. Such corrections are not automatic: something (a misadventure in Iran?) may yet compound the misery of Iraq in the same way Watergate followed Vietnam. But America recovered from the 1970s. It will bounce back stronger again.
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The USA always bounce back and they will be world leader for the next 100 years, at least.(image)



David Pogue on the iPhone

Wed, 27 Jun 2007 12:11:00 +0000

Totally worthwhile to read! Also see the the movie. From the NYTimes.(image)



New Zealand Wins Again in America’s Cup Race

Wed, 27 Jun 2007 07:15:00 +0000

Well for this one I can not agree more with what the NYTimes have to say about the 3rd Race in this years Americas Cup. Quote from Bertarelli from the article:

“I do a lot of racing in Lake Geneva, where it’s very flaky, and you do have shifts of 20 to 40 degrees at a time,” Bertarelli said. “I do go to Las Vegas, as well, which I enjoy a lot, but the America’s Cup for me is a different thing than what we had today. I don’t think the race committee should have started the regatta. We waited for two hours and one second before the 5 o’clock time line, we launch a regatta and one minute after the start, we have a 20 degree shift. If Team New Zealand saw right, well good on them.”

“I’m sure for those who are watching, it’s exciting for sure,” he added. “But you know, I think you can go to Las Vegas for that. It’s not exactly what sailing should be, at least at this level. I think this level is about the boat and about the crew. I’m actually more satisfied today than I was on Sunday. That was a race we should have won.”

Whereas the Kiwis have this answer:

“You know we’ve been racing through the Louis Vuitton in conditions a lot worse than that; that’s part of yacht racing,” said Matt Mason, the mastman on Team New Zealand. “That’s the venue here. That’s what Valencia is like on some of these days. You’d lose a lot of days if you didn’t go out and sail in a day like today.”

It is also about the weather call, and Team New Zealand’s afterguard and its team led by Don “Clouds” Badham certainly got it right on the first leg. According to Mason, the mood on board was still far from celebratory.

“You know straight away when you get the lead like that so quickly, it’s probably going to turn their way at some stage,” he said. “Your dream is not going to carry on.”

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Understanding Current Operations in Iraq

Tue, 26 Jun 2007 12:01:00 +0000

From his latest post, quote by David Kilcullen:
"I know some people in the media are already starting to sort of write off the surge and say Hey, hang on: weve been going since January, we havent seen a massive turnaround; it mustnt be working. What weve been doing to date is putting forces into position. We havent actually started what I would call the surge yet. All weve been doing is building up forces and trying to secure the population. And what I would say to people who say that its already failed is watch this space. Because youre going to see, in fairly short order, some changes in the way were operating that will make whats been happening over the past few months look like what it isjust a preliminary build up."
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The difference between "a suicide bomber" and an "Attacker".

Tue, 26 Jun 2007 07:56:00 +0000

What is the difference between the word "Attacker" and the word "Suicide Bomber". Obviously for the NYTimes this is exactly the same. Not for me! To me a suicide Bomber is always worse. So why does the NYTimes put a title like this "Attacker Kills 4 Sunni Sheiks Who Aided U.S." and then start the first sentence of the article like this "A suicide bomber on Monday assassinated ...". Sometimes I just do not understand the totally biased, old fashioned Media, whose freedoms of speech - we should not forget - depend on very democratic values. Free speech does not exist in a place like Iran. I do not understand why the NYTimes does not more vigorously defend the very basic and simple values that make it possible to do her business?(image)



Dealing with Different Tasks

Tue, 26 Jun 2007 07:27:00 +0000

Our working days consists of many tasks. How do we deal with the different tasks throughout the day?

1. New Tasks
Those are the easiest. Because they are fresh and new and you can put your mind to something new. Baisically you can start when ever you feel like it though I believe it is better to start when _you_ want to start or when you _planned_ to start.

2. "A task that makes you angry"
Those are more difficult to deal with emotionally because obviously something did not work out as planned and you are upset and you want to fix it because you are angry. Fixing something because you are angry is never a good idea. I believe it is best when you approach the emergency Task _after_ it has cooled down, after your emotions have cooled down. Put tasks that make you angry in a short period of time ahead of you. First let you anger cool off.

3. Emergency Tasks
Emergency tasks should never happen. If they do happen then you have to deal with them immediately, instantly. There has to be a will in you not wanting to have "emergency tasks". Never.

4. Decide actively what task you want to do next
Who "decides" how you work? Does the task dictate your working schedule or are you deciding what task you want to deal with next. You have to make your choice actively. If you do not make your choice actively the tasks will dictate your working day.

5. Test in peace
When you have to test if what you did really works do it in peace and use the scheduled time. Do not take shortcuts.(image)



Google-Reader is not updating

Mon, 25 Jun 2007 12:08:00 +0000

I do not know about you but Google-Reader is not updating my RSS-Feeds since this morning 0800 GMT. Normally Google-Reader Updates every 5 minutes as I have subscribed to more then 100 RSS-Feeds.(image)



New Paradigms for 21st Century Conflict

Sat, 23 Jun 2007 18:58:00 +0000

A new piece by David Kilcullen is out, from his post at SWJ:

a. Integrate terrorism, subversion, humanitarian work, and insurgency to support propaganda designed to manipulate the perceptions of local and global audiences.
b. Aggregate the effects of a very large number of grassroots actors, scattered across many countries, into a mass movement greater than the sum of its parts, with dispersed leadership and planning functions that deny us detectable targets.
c. Exploit the speed and ubiquity of modern communications media to mobilize supporters and sympathizers, at speeds far greater than governments can muster.
d. Exploit deep-seated belief systems founded in religious, ethnic, tribal, or cultural identity, to create extremely lethal, nonrational reactions among social groups.
e. Exploit safe havens such as ungoverned or undergoverned areas (in physical or cyber space); ideological, religious, or cultural blind spots; or legal loopholes.
f. Use high-profile symbolic attacks that provoke nation-states into overreactions that damage their long-term interests.
g. Mount numerous, cheap, small-scale challenges to exhaust us by provoking expensive containment, prevention, and response efforts in dozens of remote areas.
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Turning on al-Qaeda in Baquba

Fri, 22 Jun 2007 10:20:00 +0000

A interesting article from TIME by Joe Klein. From the article:

After the briefing I asked Colonel Antonia if he'd asked the Sunnis why they had turned against al-Qaeda. "They said it was religious stuff," he said. "AQI demanded that the women wear abayas, no smoking and they preached an extreme version of Islam in the mosque. They'd also spent the winter without food and fuel because of the violence al-Qaeda was causing. One guy said to me, 'We fought against you because you invaded our country and you're infidels. But you treat us with more dignity than al-Qaeda,' and he said they'd continue to work with us. I've been involved in many operations here and this is a first—usually everybody's shooting at us. This is the first time we've had any of them on our side." (In web postings, the 1920 Revolutionary Brigade has denied it is cooperating with the Americans.)

Also Michael Yon criticizes the PAO (Public Affairs Officers) for doing a bad job for the media not giving them the facilities and equipment they need to do good journalistic work.(image)



Michael R. Gordon on the selection of General Petraeus

Fri, 22 Jun 2007 08:00:00 +0000

Another great piece from Michael R. Gordon about General Petraeus copied from here:Why only 20,000 [additional troops in the surge]? How do we get at the specifics of what they decide to do? There's a whole discussion now about how big the reinforcement should be. Gen. Casey, he understands that the White House wants a different approach, and he himself has increased his force by some 7,000 in August. So he develops a recommendation, which I think really becomes something for two-brigade reinforcement, which is about another 7,000. ... And this time, the Iraqis of course [are] supposed to pony up the brigades they never supplied last time, plus one. So the two brigades that never showed last time are supposed to show this time, plus one. So there will be three additional Iraqi brigades, bringing their brigades up to nine. ... So a plan is developed. Really, until the very last moment, there's an option that's promulgated that's called 2-1-2: two American brigade combat teams in Baghdad; one on call in Kuwait as kind of a reserve force; two on call in the United States, if you need them. It would be sort of a phased introduction of forces. ... The broader context for this is the American military is stretched thin, and there's just not a lot of excess capacity. In fact, there's no excess capacity. ... So that's a leading option. ... But remember, the White House has seen this movie before. They gave 7,000 troops in August. Now they're talking about another 7,000 troops. It just smacks of incrementalism to the president, to the vice president, to some of his advisers -- another kind of piecemeal effort that's unlikely to be decisive. ... And another important factor is by this time, the decision has been made that a new strategy requires a new commander, and that new commander is to be Dave Petraeus. And Dave Petraeus -- the former commanding general of the 101st Airborne, former head of the training effort of the Iraqi army in Iraq, and the senior American Army general at Fort Leavenworth who's overseen the development of the new counterinsurgency manual -- wants five brigades, and he wants them as quickly as possible. He doesn't want to do this incremental approach -- send two; if you need it, send another one; if you need it, send more. He believes that you need mass, because it's a big city; you need everybody you can get. He wants to be decisive, and he wants access to all five brigades. That becomes his position, and it's a position that's very much in tune with the thinking at the White House. So when the decision is made -- and I believe it's made over just the last few days prior to being announced -- the president opts for the bigger package. And he announces a surge of five brigade combat teams -- not up to five -- five brigade combat teams for Baghdad, two additional battalions for Anbar, and then they're going to hold over a Marine unit there. So you end up with a force that's upward of 20,000 -- 21,500 or so becomes the total force. And I wouldn't be surprised if it eventually ends up being somewhat larger, although it can't be greatly larger. ... Who is [Gen.] Jack Keane and what is his role in all of this? There's a very interesting side story to this. ... Gen. Jack Keane, who was the former vice chief of staff for the Army under Shinseki, was Rumsfeld's choice for a while to replace Shinseki, but was unable to take the job for personal reasons. He becomes a very active force in the discussions outside of government as to what to do next. He has a lot of influence inside the government, a[...]



A great comment by "Conflict Blotter"

Fri, 22 Jun 2007 07:17:00 +0000

Hamas and Fatah have secured their fiefdoms for now anyways, Fatah in the West Bank, Hamas in Gaza. The two will continue their struggle for hearts and minds in the Palestinian street. The campaign will be a comparison between what Hamas has done with Gaza and what Fatah has done with the West Bank. Hamas will tout the restoration of law and order in Gaza, and Fatah will boast of bettering the economy in the West Bank. The Fatah economic model in the West Bank vs the Hamas security model in Gaza.
From Conflict Blotter.(image)



Quote: “Most of the people living in this neighborhood trust the Americans more than the Iraqi Army”

Fri, 22 Jun 2007 07:03:00 +0000

A highly interesting article by Michael R. Gordon in the NYT! This is what I call good journalistic work. More about Michael R. Gordon from pbs.org.(image)



Opera Mini 4 Beta

Thu, 21 Jun 2007 11:52:00 +0000

I tested the Opera Mini 4 Beta on my Treo 680 and it does not work in a usable manner. I crashed my device twice without being able to load a single search result from Google or ODDB.org. Does anybody have any success with his Opera Mini 4 Beta on a Treo 680?(image)



Baghdad Area

Thu, 21 Jun 2007 07:23:00 +0000

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A nice map from BillRoggio.com.(image)



Rice Orders That Diplomatic Jobs in Iraq Be Filled First

Thu, 21 Jun 2007 07:08:00 +0000

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered this week that U.S. diplomatic positions in Iraq must be filled before any other State Department openings in Washington or overseas are made available, raising the possibility that soon the agency will be forced to order its employees to serve in Iraq.

From the Washington Post(image)