Morning Must Reads: September 3

In the news: Syria, Pakistan, Nokia, and Diana Nyad

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Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

  • “Senate leaders are working on a revised resolution authorizing U.S. strikes in Syria that puts President Barack Obama on a short leash in responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Bashar Assad’s forces.” [Politico]
    • U.S. still hasn’t armed Syrian rebels. [WSJ]
    • Syrian refugees pass the 2 million mark. [TIME]
    • The Military Importance of the Element of Surprise in Syria [TIME]
    • Here are 9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask. [WashPost]
  • Top-secret files provided by Edward Snowden to the Washington Post reveals,  “No other nation draws as much scrutiny across so many categories of national security concern” as Pakistan. [WashPost]
  • Jeff Bezos discusses his $250 million purchase of the Post. [WashPost]
  • “Microsoft Corp. struck a $7 billion deal to acquire Nokia Corp.’s struggling cellphone business, a bold move to try to catch up in a fast-growing mobile market that is now dominated by Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc.” [WSJ]
  • CBS and Time Warner end financial dispute, blackout. [TIME]
  • Diana Nyad, 64, becomes the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. [TIME]
598 comments
La_Randy
La_Randy

I have glanced at other articles in the swampland and they are have been taken over by the twitterites. Is this the new norm for Times swampland blog?

sacredh
sacredh

OT, but a friend is visiting from down south. Tonight he told me what he wants me to leave him in my will as a keepsake. He wants my set of Beatles bubblegum cards. I have the entire collection in mint condition.

sacredh
sacredh

I still can't post links.

Why hast thou forsaken me?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Quick reality check for those who would like to rewrite history.

Clarke's view of what went wrong was buttressed by an internal military analysis of the Afghanistan war that was completed last winter. In late 2002, the Defense Department's office of Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (solic) asked retired Army Colonel Hy Rothstein, a leading military expert in unconventional warfare, to examine the planning and execution of the war in Afghanistan, with an understanding that he would focus on Special Forces.

Check it out here.  Here's a little more:

The report describes a wide gap between how Donald Rumsfeld represented the war and what was actually taking place. Rumsfeld had told reporters at the start of the Afghanistan bombing campaign, Rothstein wrote, that "you don't fight terrorists with conventional capabilities. You do it with unconventional capabilities." In December, the Taliban and Al Qaeda retreated into the countryside as the armies of the Northern Alliance, supported by American airpower and Special Forces troops, moved into the capital. There were many press accounts of America's new way of waging war, including well-publicized reports of American Special Forces on horseback and of new technologies, like the Predator drones. Nonetheless, Rothstein wrote, the United States continued to emphasize bombing and conventional warfare while "the war became increasingly unconventional," with Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters "operating in small cells, emerging only to lay land mines and launch nighttime rocket attacks before disappearing once again." Rothstein added:

What was needed after December 2001 was a greater emphasis on U.S. special operations troops, supported by light infantry, conducting counterinsurgency operations. Aerial bombardment should have become a rare thing. . . . The failure to adjust U.S. operations in line with the post-Taliban change in theater conditions cost the United States some of the fruits of victory and imposed additional, avoidable humanitarian and stability costs on Afghanistan. . . . Indeed, the war's inadvertent effects may be more significant than we think.

By the end of 2001, the Afghan war had essentially become a counterinsurgency. At this point, it was important to turn to a specific kind of unconventional warfare: "The Special Forces were created to deal with precisely this kind of enemy," Rothstein wrote. "Unorthodox thinking, drawing on a thorough understanding of war, demography, human nature, culture and technology are part of this mental approach. . . . Unconventional warfare prescribes that Special Forces soldiers must be diplomats, doctors, spies, cultural anthropologists, and good friends--all before their primary work comes into play."

Instead, Rothstein said, "the command arrangement evolved into a large and complex structure that could not (or would not) respond to the new unconventional setting." The result has been "a campaign in Afghanistan that effectively destroyed the Taliban but has been significantly less successful at being able to achieve the primary policy goal of ensuring that al Qaeda could no longer operate in Afghanistan."

collioure
collioure

Yet another episode of reviewing the conflicts in Afghanistan today with ignorant members of the hive.

Some don't even know that Al Qaeda was there in 2001 when they attacked on 9-11 and that a subsequent short incursion drove them over the mountains to Pakistan where they have remained ever since.

Others think there was continuous war right up to 2009.  But it was quiet for more than 4 years until the Taliban regrouped for an insurgency.  Bush did send a few addl soldiers to assist with fending that off. 

Obama subsequently sent 63,000 more soldiers for a grand total of 100,000 and reignited a full scale war that accomplished nothing and from which the USA is now withdrawing.

sacredh
sacredh

OT, but the blu-ray of Star Trek: Into darkness came out today. Hmmmm...what to do tonight?

sacredh
sacredh

@La_Randy, it appears to be the new norm. I have to bypass the twitter fouled threads.

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

@sacredh My guess is that Michael Scherer is using his newfound position of "Head D.C. Philosophizer" to troll us Swamcritters for all the grief we've given him...

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

And this was from 2004. At this point we already knew the war in Afghanistan was badly mismanaged. But with Iraq burning and consuming troops like popcorn could do nothing about it.

roknsteve
roknsteve

Are you gonna quote the bible to us again today and tell us to be good little sheep?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ahandout Tell that to McCain and Graham. They are the one still pushing for boots on the ground.

roknsteve
roknsteve

@collioure What is that?  I can't make it out with all the blather and foam.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@collioureNot quite clown. History shows otherwise. Remind us was Obama in office in 2008?


dmiral Mike Mullen, Staff Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that while the situation in Afghanistan is "precarious and urgent," the 10,000 additional troops needed there would be unavailable "in any significant manner" unless withdrawals from Iraq are made. However, Mullen stated that "my priorities . . . given to me by the commander in chief are: Focus on Iraq first. It's been that way for some time. Focus on Afghanistan second."[178]

In the first five months of 2008, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan increased by over 80% with a surge of 21,643 more troops, bringing the total number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan from 26,607 in January to 48,250 in June.[179] In September 2008, President Bush announced the withdrawal of over 8,000 troops from Iraq in the coming months and a further increase of up to 4,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.[180]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_Afghanistan_%282001%E2%80%93present%29


yogi
yogi

@sacredh Scream at JJ Abrams for ruining Star Trek?

La_Randy
La_Randy

@sacredh Livefrye has been acting up lately, as an experiment, clear your history then try linking. Worked for me.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@roknsteve @collioure It's just him saying Bush established peace in Afghanistan but Obama effed it up by declaring war again. Or some such drivel.

collioure
collioure

@mantisdragon91@collioure 

Here you go, Third Grade

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Withdrawal_of_U.S._troops_from_Afghanistan

I note the President's attention to "al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan."  Only his Natl Security adviser Genl Jones continued to claim that there were no more than 100 AQ in Afghanistan.

Sorry you were misled by Genl Mullen.  One of the things you take away from Woodward's book is that generals always ask for more troops.  That book goes on for several chapters with the generals just asking for more troops.  Eventually they developed an alternative strategy and Obama committed more troops to a plan that was already late in getting off the ground, one of the reasons Obama's withdrawal deadline has slipped.

collioure
collioure

@mantisdragon91 @collioure 

Generals always ask for more troops, Third Grade.

37,000 there January 2009.

They continued to ask and the incompetent community organizer acceded right up to 100,000 and he didn't even have a plan, Third Grade.

sacredh
sacredh

@yogi, I thought the idea of establishing an alternate timeline and having the characters change because of the destruction of Vulcan was a great idea.

sacredh
sacredh

@yogi, I think he's done a good job. I was never a William Shatner fan.

La_Randy
La_Randy

@TyPollard @kbanginmotown @sacredh Channeling our conservative 'friends', if you cannot disprove it with a quick look at faux news, hotair, breitbart, etc, etc, etc, then it is surely the truth.

ahandout
ahandout

@mantisdragon91 @ahandout  I seriously doubt that Israel wants the crazy al Qaeda rebels to win and take over Syria, which is what McClown wants.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ahandout @mantisdragon91 McCain and Graham are doing Israel's bidding. Now that Hezbollah is involved helping Assad they want us killing as many Hezbollah fighters for them as possible.

collioure
collioure

@mantisdragon91@Sue_N@roknsteve@collioure 

Just not true, Third Grade.

Nothing left to do in Afghanistan. It went quiet until 2006. Then there was a small insurgency, but we never sought to defeat the Taliban. Even after we had some 80,000 troops there, that objective was ruled out. In fact it took Obama's team months to produce a strategy, months after he had built up the forces.

One of the decisions that showed how unfit Barry 0 was for the job.

(Once again generals always ask for more troops.  That doesn't prove a thing.  It's what Presidents do that counts)

roknsteve
roknsteve

@Sue_N @roknsteve @collioure He's such a cereal killer that I'm sure if he squints his eyes and looks out the window he'll see flying cows.  I think the cows dropped something and it got in his brain.  

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@Sue_N @roknsteve @collioure Actually according to Admiral Mike Mullen the troops desperately needed to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan were tied up in Iraq. Wonder what would have happened if we would have devoted the resources used to Iraq in Afghanistan in the first place.

roknsteve
roknsteve

Those labs were over 10 years old and had been empty for longer.  Saddam did the same thing you do here every day-act scary and bluff but with nothing to back it up.

roknsteve
roknsteve

@ahandout @mantisdragon91 @collioure Afghanistan is a failure because Bush jumped into Iraq and took all the troops with him.  He has never finished anything in his life.  He left a mess in both Middle East countries and a mess in America for Pres. Obama..   

ahandout
ahandout

@mantisdragon91 @ahandout @collioure  We had the real evidence that Saddam USED chemical weapons.  Reports that he had them.  Reports that even Hillary believed.

But WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction.

An initial glance at the WikiLeaks war logs doesn’t reveal evidence of some massive WMD program by the Saddam Hussein regime — the Bush administration’s most (in)famous rationale for invading Iraq. But chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam’s toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents.

In August 2004, for instance, American forces surreptitiously purchased what they believed to be containers of liquid sulfur mustard, a toxic “blister agent” used as a chemical weapon since World War I. The troops tested the liquid, and “reported two positive results for blister.” The chemical was then “triple-sealed and transported to a secure site” outside their base.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/10/wikileaks-show-wmd-hunt-continued-in-iraq-with-surprising-results/

collioure
collioure

@mantisdragon91 

From the same reference

"Troop levels remained roughly constant under Barack Obama's predecessor, former president George W. Bush, with around 30,000 American troops deployed in Afghanistan"

One can assume that Bush wanted to send lots more, but he he didn't.  FACT: he left unsigned troop orders on his desk.  The inexperienced former community organizer signed them right away.

collioure
collioure

@mantisdragon91 @collioure 

Pardon me, Third Grade, but 37,000 also fits into the often heard remark that the incompetent community organizer trebled our foces there.

Woodward's book shows clearly that Obama signed troop orrders that Bush had rejected.

Hey, what did Barry 0 knonw?  He was just a community organizer by trade.

He told us all that Afghanistan was the right wat to fight, but he never explained that and in practice he showed us how faulty was that claim.

collioure
collioure

@mantisdragon91 @collioure 

Sorry, 37,000 jan 2009 is well-established

The point is that the incompetent community organizer went all in.

And quadrupled the casualty rate.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@collioure @mantisdragon91 Correction there were that many there in June of 2008. There were another 4,500 added in September of that year. This would be a more than doubling of the force that was there in January of 2008

Sue_N
Sue_N

@sacredh @yogi Hubby and I (both longtime Trekkers) have greatly enjoyed the reboot. They're fun, which previous ST movies, both TOS and NextGen, had forgotten how to be. Chris Pine makes an excellent Kirk, and Zachary Quinto is perfect as Spock.

Now, I do think Carol Marcus was a wasted character in Darkness. I thought they'd make much better use of her than, um, Pretty Girl in Jeopardy. Still, JJ makes a hell of a movie.

yogi
yogi

@sacredh @yogi I kid I kid, I actually enjoyed the reboots too, my main actual complaint were the endless lense flares

yogi
yogi

@sacredh @yogi Yeah, my complaint is where were the fraking cylons and jedis I always hear referenced from the new movies and tv shows?