Thursday, August 03, 2006

NYT: "Study Urges Reserve Rebuilding Forces for Cases Like Iraq" (James Glanz)

We're going to start with James Glanz' "Study Urges Reserve Rebuilding Force for Cases Like Iraq" in the New York Times for a number of reasons including it's a straight forward report but also because common sense seems to be in short supply:

The United States should create a "deployable reserve" of contracting experts for emergency reconstruction efforts like the one in Iraq and should change federal law to remove the legal straitjackets that have helped slow the effort there, the first official history of the Iraq rebuilding effort has concluded.
The 140-page history, based on dozens of inspections and audits of construction sites, interviews with participants and input from a panel of government, academic and industry officials, recounts a tale of woe as the rebuilding effort stumbled from bureaucratic confusion to problems with security and understaffing.
[. . .]
Because the United States cannot count on quickly recruiting enough people familiar with the details of contracting when a crisis comes, Mr. Bowen's history recommended creating a "deployable reserve" of experts in advance. The history also called for revisions to the sometimes conflicting federal regulations on contracting that "caused inconsistencies and inefficiencies that inhibited management and oversight."

Katrina's mentioned briefly in the report. Let's dismiss with it first. The problems with Hurricane Katrina could have been prevented ahead of time. Reconstruction "issues" had nothing to do with a lack of "experts" -- it had to do with fat cats getting rich and a "plan" being pushed (at the expense of the true residents of New Orleans).

So let's deal with Iraq quickly. You can't examine the "problem" without examing the issues of why the US illegally invaded the country. This is misidentifying the problem and insisting on a solution (see Ava and my TV commentary on a similar misidentifying). The solution lies not with a "deployable reserve" of experts -- all that "solution" does is encourage more Iraqs. We noted another nonsense group of "experts" yesterday. It's funny, their concern wasn't with the pay that leaves so many military families vulnerable (to put it mildly), it wasn't with the people serving, their supposed concern was over this: "There is not a single non-deployed Army Brigade Combat Team in the United States that is ready to deploy." Oh goodness, you mean we couldn't add on another war now?

The truth is we can. We always can. This is just more pork from a gang of pigs who'll eat their own. War Hawks want more funding for the military -- not for medical issues, not to raise the living standard, but more contracts, more 'fire power,' more pork.

The problems in Iraq with reconstruction don't result from a lack of experts -- they had their experts, they put into place their "plan" (read Naomi Klein's "Baghdad Year Zero" if you're lost). Creating a standing resource to be utilized means it will be utilizied. If any of the standing guidelines had been followed (including opening the contracts up to bidding), the situation might be somewhat different today. But for a real difference? Don't start an illegal war. Don't start a war on lies.

Pretending that the root cause of the problem isn't there doesn't allow real solutions to emerge. And creating a standing force of "experts" is the most ridiculous idea -- not only does such a creation mean that we will see more Iraqs, it also ignores the actual problem. But it's pork time for the piggies. Time for them to take more money from the American people. Now it may not be surprising that Mad Maddie doesn't have better ways to spend her time but Sandy Berger needs to lose this notion that he had a little misstep. He pleaded guilty to an action that was a betrayal of the people. He doesn't need to be in government anymore unless he can win an election. He has betrayed the trust of the American citizens. This isn't about the people, you or me, this is about the same useless fools that get us into one war after another and have no accountability only now they're screaming, "Give more money."

Nelson Hernandez offers a look at James W. Higgins Jr. (Washington Post) who died Thursday in Iraq -- the problem-solvers noted by Glanz and the AFP have no interest in Higgins' story, they're only interested in paving the way for many more Higgings. Don't mistake their cries for money as "solutions."

They're not interested in the Article 32 going on now either, or how the events happened. Their "solutions" don't go to that. Martha notes Andy Mosher's "Soldier Testifies About Comrades' Threats: Hearing May Lead to Court-Martial for Four Accused of Murdering Iraqi Detainees" (Washington Post):

An American soldier testified Wednesday that comrades threatened to kill him if he disclosed their roles in the slaying of three Iraqi detainees in May in northern Iraq.
Pfc. Bradley L. Mason, 20, said at a military hearing in Tikrit that Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard threatened him on May 10, the day after the Iraqis were shot dead in a raid on a suspected base of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq near Samarra, about 65 miles north of Baghdad.

[. . .]
Mason testified that, during the May 9 raid, Girouard told his squad that Clagett and Hunsaker were going to kill three detainees who had been handcuffed.
Clagett and Hunsaker "just smiled," said Mason, who said he objected to Girouard. "I told him I'm not down with it. It's murder," he said.

Back to the Times for more on that, from Paul von Zielbauer's "G.I.’s Say Officers Ordered Killing of Young Iraqi Men:"

The four soldiers' accounts on Wednesday varied slightly, about what the orders for engaging the enemy were, or who issued them. Taken together, though, they reinforced accusations that ranking officers had approved broad use of deadly force.
"We are now talking about the possibility of command responsibility, not just unlawful orders and simple murder," said Gary D. Solis, a former military judge and prosecutor who teaches the law of war at Georgetown University.
Colonel Steele, who led the 1993 mission in Somalia later made famous in the book and film "Black Hawk Down," has a reputation for aggressive measures. In Iraq, as a commander involved in harrowing assaults against insurgents, he inspired the use of "kill boards" to track how many Iraqis each soldier had killed over time.
On the bottom of Company C's kill board, Private Mason said, was a phrase to inspire soldiers in combat: "Let the bodies hit the floor."

Silly 'problem-solvers' interested in grabbing monies don't address that. And dropping back to the start of this entry, I think Mia's highlight fits, from Winslow T. Wheeler's "Congress and the Pentagon: Co-Abusers of the War Budget" (CounterPunch):

The Bush administration has circumvented a significant law, passed by Congress in 2004. The legislation required the president to report by January 2005 on the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the future years, 2006 to 2011. On May 13, 2005, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reported that such a report was impossible to write for any fiscal year more than one year in advance.
However, testimony at a July 18 hearing of Congressman Chris Shays', R-Conn., Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee revealed that no one ever asked the responsible official in the Defense Department to estimate the likely costs of the war: neither before the war was begun (when senior officials were dismissing others' estimates), nor in response to the statutory requirement.
There is a reasonable claim that costs for any future event is full of uncertainties, however, many have dealt with them in an analytically straightforward fashion. Using clearly articulated criteria for two different scenarios, CBO estimated the costs of future operations in Iraq.
One scenario assumed U.S. military personnel in the Persian Gulf region would be reduced to 140,000 in 2007, and the deployments would end in 2009. The additional costs for that scenario came to $202 billion.The second scenario would reduce forces to 170,000 in 2007 and 40,000 in 2010; U.S. deployments would end in 2016. Costs would be $406 billion, above the amounts already spent.
What the Bush administration was unable, rather unwilling, to reveal - CBO has analyzed.

Note that Mike's "All the words are going to bleed from me" addresses the 'problem solvers' in case anyone missed that yesterday.

The e-mail address for this site is