Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A War Hawk Think Tank struggles for relevancy

Donna Summer got it wrong, "whore." Not "you," "whore." There will always be a whore ("There Will Always Be A You" is a song Donna wrote which appears on her Bad Girls album.) "Don't ask me why," Donna sings and who knows why but the greasy-headed War Hawk Nora Bensahel -- who almost passes for stylish when contrasted with the other ethical deviants working for CNAS, showed up Monday on PRI's The Takeaway to insist that the US military would maintain a 'longterm' presence in Iraq but that's really not "permanent" and we need to be clear there for legal reasons. (Instead it will be "bases that US forces use at they rotate in and out" for years and years.) Only a woman stupid enough to daily go out in public with greasy, unwashed and uncombed hair would think she could also get away with that little lie outside of a courtroom.

In the court of public opinion, she's just one more War Hawk whoring to keep war going (but that is the point of CNAS).

There's a very important looming deadline for the US military. In order to withdraw by 2011, they really have to start doing all of the preparation and all of the moving the equipment and all of that, they really have to start doing that this summer.

Really? She can check with her CNAS buddy, Michele Flournoy, Joe Biden publicly went over this in 2008, in a hearing. No, that's not how it has to go at all. If the US government thinks that there's a chance that Iraq will extend the SOFA or enter a new deal, the US military can stay on the US bases in Iraq for a few weeks after 2011 ends as things are negotiated. And if they can do that, per Joe, then they can also do that and, if no agreement comes, then depart. If Flournoy can't remember that, Nora can remind Michele that she was wearing her modified sarai that looked, on the back, as if it had been drug through a pig stye -- something Flournoy probably didn't realize until the end of the business day but something that everyone else at that hearing was pointing to and laughing at.

Oh, those wacky CNAS-ers. They were created to be the Arm Chair Warriors of the next Democratic administration. And, once Barack was elected, they had their entry point. It hasn't worked out as well as they might have hoped -- even with Michele forming a power alliance with Samantha Power -- they're still shut out. Michele, for example, just knew she was going to be the new Secretary of Defense when Robert Gates left. And why not? Wouldn't it have made perfect sense for the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy of the US to leap frog over the more qualified and seize the position? And, yes, the country is engaged in multiple wars and she has no military experience but, hey, her husband was in the Navy!

They are the most deluded and they are in desperate need of an organizing hula hoop. For four years, it has been rally around counter-insurgency. But they know that's had its moment in the sun. There must be a new hula hoop! There must be!

It must be very difficult for the CNAS-ers right now. They want the Iraq War to continue ('for humanitarian reasons!' thunders CNAS-er Thomas E. Ricks, his multiple chins and mighty man boobs shaking in fury)

In addition, Dr. Nora, there is also the Late Show with David Letterman. No, I'm not joking. Adm Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, was a guest on Monday night's show.

David Letterman: Tell us about troops coming home. Iraq? Up and functioning on its own? Not functioning on its own?

Adm Mike Mullen: Well Iraq's actually doing pretty well. We've still got 47,000 troops there -- that's from almost 200,000 a couple of years ago. We will continue to downsize that footprint. Right now, to zero -- based on the agreement we have with the Iraqis. Whether the Iraqis will ask us for some kind of small footprint in the future is to be determined here in the next few months.

He was not in a panic, he was not speaking with any sense of urgency. CNAS-ers have a real flair for melodrama. And listening to Nora babble away to Celeste Headlee was to realize how 'smart' she thinks she is and how 'dumb' she thinks everyone else is. Presenting the three areas that she thinks the US military would focus on -- her three? Those are the three have repeatedly been presented to the Congress this year by the administration.

Last week, Kelley B. Vlahos reported on CNAS in "CNAS Conference Becomes 'Thumbsucker'" (

The event I once said was “so pumped up by its own mission of salvation for the broader Middle East and Central Asia that it could take off like a rocket ship of its own self-satisfaction into the stratosphere,” has become so thin and milquetoast it seems at risk of floating away—period. It really did leave one almost wishing for the near-giddy arrogance of the old COIN cheerleader days circa 2009. Back then you could say there was a “buzz,” now there’s hardly a pulse.

“It’s a thumbsucker,” eagle eye Gareth Porter proclaimed during the lunch break on Thursday, after three and a half hours of largely insignificant analysis from CNAS fellows, Pentagon and State Department officials and establishment-approved national security analysts, most of whom say nothing anyone with half a wit about foreign policy hasn’t heard already.

At the beginning of the day, CNAS CEO Nathaniel Fick, himself a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, now sadly indistinguishable in the army of think tank suits that inhabit the Beltway, promised that the Willard Ballroom “won’t be the most boring place on earth.” On the contrary, the morning alone was akin to driving around in the car listening to the Friday round-up on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. You know, the kind of radio banter for which you’re not likely to miss anything if you pop outside to pump gas or pick up the dry cleaning. That’s because it’s about all about the title and the self-important tone, and not about depth or nuance, or what they call “value-added” knowledge. Watch out CNAS, you’re practically there.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends