“Like tethered goats to the killing fields …”

Sidney Blumenthal has a must-read article in today’s Guardian (emphasis added).

Since the Iraqi elections in January, US foreign service officers at the Baghdad embassy have been writing a steady stream of disturbing cables describing drastically worsening conditions. Violence from incipient communal civil war is rapidly rising. Last month there were eight times as many assassinations committed by Shia militias as terrorist murders by Sunni insurgents. The insurgency, according to the reports, also continues to mutate. Meanwhile, President Bush’s strategy of training Iraqi police and army to take over from coalition forces – “when they stand up, we’ll stand down” – is perversely and portentously accelerating the strife. State department officials in the field are reporting that Shia militias use training as cover to infiltrate key positions. Thus the strategy to create institutions of order and security is fuelling civil war.

Rather than being received as invaluable intelligence, the messages are discarded or, worse, considered signs of disloyalty. Rejecting the facts on the ground apparently requires blaming the messengers. So far, two top attaches at the embassy have been reassigned elsewhere for producing factual reports that are too upsetting.

The Bush administration’s preferred response to increasing disintegration is to act as if it has a strategy that is succeeding.

This is, of course, the way the Bushies have operated since the days Dubya was governor of Texas. But it’s one thing to claim, for example, that Texas tax policies were a success when in fact they were not. Now the Bushies are flushing Iraq, not to mention an incalculable number of lives, down the toilet and calling it victory.

It gets even more amazing …

Under the pretence that Iraq is being pacified, the military is partially withdrawing from hostile towns in the countryside and parts of Baghdad. By reducing the number of soldiers, the administration can claim its policy is working going into the midterm elections. But the jobs the military doesn’t want to perform are being sloughed off on state department “provisional reconstruction teams” (PRTs) led by foreign service officers. The rationale is that they will win Iraqi hearts-and-minds by organising civil functions.

Blood and destruction just to get Republicans elected in a midterm election. Awesome. But, says Blumenthal, the Pentagon has informed the State Department it will not provide security for the foreign service officers. The PRTs are supposed to hire mercenaries if they want protection.

The state department’s Intelligence and Research Bureau was correct in its scepticism before the war about Saddam Hussein’s possession of WMDs, but was ignored. The department was correct in its assessment in its 17-volume Future of Iraq project about the immense effort required for reconstruction after the war, but it was disregarded. Now its reports from Iraq are correct, but their authors are being punished. Foreign service officers are to be sent out like tethered goats to the killing fields. When these misbegotten projects inevitably fail, the department will be blamed. Passive resistance to these assignments reflects anticipation of impending disaster, including the likely murder of diplomats.

But, hey, what’s a few beheaded diplomats if it’ll help win the midterm elections?

Best of all, the Secretary of State has “washed her hands” of her own department. Unfortunately her exceptional skills, most notably her talent for looking straight at a camera and lying her ass off, do not translate into effective management of the State Department. She has handed the task of coaxing diplomats into being tethered goats to an underling while she flits about the world getting her face in the news.

While the state department was racked last week by collapsing morale, Rice travelled to England to visit the constituency of Jack Straw. She declared that though the Bush administration had committed “tactical errors, thousands of them” in Iraq, it is right on the strategy. Then she and Straw took a magic carpet to Baghdad to try to overthrow Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari in favour of a more pliable character.

Juan Cole reports today that the magic carpet ride didn’t help.

Iraqi politicians said on Wednesday that the visit to Iraq of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw had proved counter-productive. Positions actually hardened with the visit. Haider al-Abadi said, “All it’s doing is hardening the position of people who are supporting Jaafari . . . They shouldn’t have come to Baghdad.”

Meanwhile — today Josh White reports in the Washington Post that Rummy has taken offense at Condi’s charge that the U.S. made thousands of tactical errors in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of “tactical errors” in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.

Speaking during a radio interview on WDAY in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday, Rumsfeld said calling changes in military tactics during the war “errors” reflects a lack of understanding of warfare. Rumsfeld defended his war plan for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact with the enemy.

Unfortunately, Rummy’s achievements as Secretary of Defense reveal a lack of understanding of the entire bleeping time-space continuum. See also Sadly, No.

16 thoughts on ““Like tethered goats to the killing fields …”

  1. While we hear all of this, there is no doubt that sane people are simutaneously appalled and seperating themselves from any possible support on whatever grounds. This doesn’t stop this lame crew from running us further into the morass(two s’s or one?) As this whole thing, in conjunction with every other action/event taking place, unfolds I can’t shake the feeling we are watching ww3 begining. Like in slo-mo but then again I didn’t watch the build up to ww2 so maybe this is how it happens.

  2. We always thought a damn would break, a scandal would wake the press, people would get their eyes opened. Instead we have a slow rumbling, small shakes magnitude 3 or 4 but shocks everyday constantly slowmotion like a glacier, perhaps like a glacier melting. It is still there but it is falling apart in slow mo before our eyes. We have seen it so long we don’t even see it anymore. The majority and the entire media are still in denial that the entire government or at least the top third of the pyramid needs to be demolished as it is ready to slide into the abyss and take us with it (but just won’t go that easily.) The performance goes on, the band plays on while the entire edifice crumbles.

  3. The same folks who told us that Iraq would be a cakewalk are now telling us that two B-I bombers will take care of Iran. They obviously believe we are a nation of idiots.
    After emigrating from Ireland in 1962 I became a United States citizen in 1965. This is the most depressed I have felt about our country in all of those years.

  4. But…. the ‘permanent’ bases [away from hostile towns] are still in ongoing and massive construction — a sure way to continue handing over money to the Bush crony corporations who get billions for construction and for provisioning those troops held at those bases. Same strategy seems to be operative about protecting state department reconstruction teams….let the bucks go to the private mercenary industry……and let the deaths of soldiers be replaced with deaths of private hires and diplomats. [Easier to hide from the public, too]
    So our tax money continues to go into the pockets of the war profiteers who will then pony up huge campaign contributions to the right wing.


    Scooter Libby says thats Bush authorized leak of CIA person’s identity – Valerie Plame! This was announced the legal staff working for Libby.

    Bush has NO regard for the law.

    Impeach the imcompetent fuckhead!

  6. The Bush administration’s reaction to reports from the field in Iraq, reminds me of Saddam’s reaction to reports from his people as Bush’s war was getting underway. Both lived in denial, the difference was in the severity of consequences to the messenger for telling the truth: Saddam rewarded “disloyalty” with execution. What is it about tyrants, these masters of reality?

    I’ve said before that what we’re going through is like the denial of an alcoholic or drug addict to the consequences of their actions. We’re collectively in this boat with Bush and the somnolent media, like it or not.

    A drug addict or alcoholic typically has to suffer a series of losses, each one escalating to some final catastrophic failure, something so big that it is beyond their ability to rationalize any more. I suspect for us, a failure of this magnitude will come in the form of a major, undeniable US defeat. Use your imagination, as Rod Serling used to say, but my nightmare scenarios include the loss of US city to terrorists or perhaps the sinking of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz, something so big that it cannot be hidden any more.

  7. “Rumsfeld defended his war plan for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact with the enemy.”

    Great. Rumsfeld has just confirmed that reality is the Enemy.

  8. Britwit,

    Breaking CNN news; After the commercial break the CNN anchors came on the air and apologized for stating that Libby cited bush as his athority to leak Plames name? They must of got a call from the department of homeland security. Free Press my ass.

  9. uncledad- thanks, so you did see the same breaking news. Well, CNN is stating the same think now that Bush authorized per Libby Court Papers. Apparently, Cheney says Bush approved. It’s on just now.

  10. Well, now they are backpeddaling again! It says that Bush authorized use of certain parts of a classified document. Something is fishy here with all this damn double talk. As your last 4 words state, “Free Press my ass”.

  11. Britwit,

    I would be willing to bet, that they got a call from someone telling them to change the story. I believe absoulutly nothing I see on TV news anymore, they are all part of the global corporate cabal. Now the house is busy changing the telecom laws to limit what we can see, hear, and read on the internet. There are so many things fucked up in this country it’s hard to keep track, I long for the days of washington gridlock, the less they legislate the better. I find it amazing that millions of people will go to the streets and protest over immigration reform, but everyone sits on thier asses while this goverment flushes the constitution down the shitter.

  12. uncledad – You are so correct sir or ma’m!

    People march, protest about stuff that doesn’t matter. Everything is fucked up because of Bush and we are living in a “Mad, Mad World”.

  13. Funny to hear ( thousands of -mistakes- dead)condi:
    Q: Are we going to have permanent bases?
    A: People would tell you that we do not seek permanent bases anywhere in the world

    Gee condi is ‘people would tell’ like ‘some people say’?

  14. Britwit,

    Don’t blame Bush for everything, he is only the figurehead, albeit an evil ingnorrant figurehead. The illegals are marching because the Catholic Church put them up to it, they organized it. They see their flock shrinking (child molesting priests) and these converted third world people are just what they need. It does make me slightly ill but that is what organized religion has done for centuries. Organized religion + Big business interests = Bad news. Funny that I see very little of the immigration topic on Maha’s site. Don’t get me wrong I think legal immigration should be encouraged and expanded. But these band Aid approaches do nothing but continue the exploitation of illegal desperate people while dragging down the living wages of everyday citizens.

  15. The fact that we have people from Mexico desperate to enter this country proves that NAFTA didn’t work. I mean the ass wipes that propose the immigration answer (t.v.+polititians+ apologist) they are the same people that said NAFTA was the answer. Wake up. Why did we sell off 40% of our light manufacturing to Mexico over the last 10 years? To have an increase in illegal immigration of over 670%.? Bring em on. They are getting sold the same bill of goods as us. Stop shopping at Wal-Mart, stop cheating yourself. Stop cheating others.

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