Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend, or so we hope!

Let's begin with a little symbolism for Thursday.

First, we have now all heard of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS, a Sunni Islamist group bent on overthrowing the Shiate led government of Maliki in Baghdad.  At first, it looks like any other half-assed attempt at making a catchy acronym.  However, if we look at "Isis" we learn something more.

Isis- the Egyptian goddess whose name means "seat" or "throne"firmly points to her association with sovereignty (from "The Ancient Gods Speak; A guide to Egyptian religion" by Donald A. Redford).

It appears then the the group "ISIS" coined an acronym that harkens back to ancient times to tell the adepts that they are regaining sovereignty for the Sunnis.

What do you do about a bunch of pissed-off Syrians and Iraqis then that are envying ancient deities in their cause?  If you are the current White House, you look towards cozying-up to the Persians (Iran);

With options limited, the combination of crisis and mutual interest might make possible what many foreign policy experts once thought unthinkable: that the U.S. and Iran, archenemies since the taking of 50 hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, become partners, frenemies for the sake of Iraq.

“It may be an unholy alliance to some folks but countries don’t have allies, they have interests,” said retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, a senior adviser at the National Security Network, a liberal research center. “And in this case, Iran is a natural ally of the U.S. They want a stable country around them, and that’s what we want. From a purely realpolitik, Kissinger view of the world, we may have some strange bedfellows here.”--McClatchy DC

Obama, Kerry, Hagel and Rice are about to make the same mistake that Reagan, George H. Bush, George Schhultz and Caspar Weinberger did 30 years ago.  The former group is so worried about "radical terrorism" taking over Iraq that they are willing to pretend that Iran has the same interest.  The latter group of the Reagan administration thought that the mujahideen of Afghanistan hatred of the Soviets made them friends with the US.  For those that may not know, a prominent member of the mujahideen in the 1980s was a fellow named Osama bin Laden.  (The mujahideen became the Taliban and al-Qaeda of today.)

Obama and Kerry along with former Secretary of State Clinton have done everything in the power to bring sanctions and condemnation of Iran for pursuing a nuclear weapons program.  Of course they are just the most recent occupants of the White House to have jingoistic approach to Iran.  The US and UK favored the regime of Shah Pahlavi which led to the Tehran Embassy crisis.  Carter lost his re-election mainly because of the crisis (or you could say Reagan won because of it).  Since the Carter administration, Iran went from being an ally (quick, what air force still flies F-14 Tomcats?) to an enemy.

The Reagan administration supported a little known despot at the time named Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran.  This included the use of chemical weapons against the Revolutionary Guards when things got ugly for Saddam.  In only the manner in which Westerners can do, the White House has rewritten their view of this events to mean that Iran has an interest in helping them stabilize Iraq.

Iranians are Persians and I can't stress that enough.  The First Persian Empire dates back to 550 BC.  This is ancient and proud culture that hasn't survived this long by being duped by upstarts.  Tehran is not going to fall for the White House suddenly being nice.  The Iranians will capitalize on any support they offer and the US won't even see it coming.

Meanwhile, the troop drawdown in Afghanistan is having similar results as in Iraq;

Afghan government officials said Wednesday that at least 35 civilians, 40 government troops and more than 100 Taliban attackers had been killed since the offensive began Sunday in Helmand province's Sangin district. Fighting has since spread to four other districts along the restive border, driving more than 2,000 families from their homes, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi reported.--L.A. Times

First Afghanistan and then Iraq, the US track record in not compelling and I truly doubt Iran will enter into any kind of agreement without some serious concessions on the part of the US.  That or the US will end-up creating another version of al-Qaed in Iran.

Interestingly, Afghanistan could have been the exception to the rule.  A little know story has come out about a US soldier in Afghanistan, MAJ Jim Grant.  MAJ Grant was a Green Beret who used his skills and training in unconventional warfare to live amongst the Pushtan tribes to "win their hearts and minds".  He was so successful, he was dubbed "Lawrence of Afghanistan" and perhaps more than anyone else really understood what it was going to take to actually win over the people of Afghanistan.

All special forces are taught to think outside the box, known more so than Green Berets who combine the training of special forces with the knowledge of sociology, psychology and political science.  They are adept at becoming part of the culture.  Grant excelled at this and was eerily similar to the Colonel Walter Kurtz character in "Apocalypse Now".  Like Kurtz, his success was threatening to some.  In 2012, he was airlifted out of Afghanistan forced to shave off his bear and returned to Ft Bragg.  There he was stripped of his Green Beret status and reduced in rank to captain (Note, Grant appears to have been prior enlisted.  Normally prior-enlisted officers are busted back to enlisted for grievous offenses.  Busting a field grade officer back to company grade is almost unheard of).

What did Grant do to warrant this treatment?  While in Afghanistan, Grant was married.  He met and fell in love with former Washington Post report Anne Tyson (who was also married at the time).  They both fell in love and she ended living with Grant in Afghanistan clandestinely.  She became as successful as Grant at winning over the trust of the Pushtan women and children.

Grant having an affair with Tyson was a violation of the UCMJ, conduct unbecoming an officer.  Grant is not the first, not the last, officer to have an affair.  The military in general has come under intense scrutiny for the high number of sexual assaults that have occurred with commanders often reducing the charges or dismissing them altogether.  But Grant didn't assault or rape Tyson but his actions were inappropriate.  However, the Army seems to have really overreacted as well.

Grant was taught to think outside the box from day one and how to live amongst the indigenous people and become one of them.  He did that beyond all expectations.  That he had an affair with a married woman should not be ignored but to have stripped of all of his status and to call him a "disgrace" is hypocritical at best.  Gen David Petraeus did the same thing but no one stripped him of his status nor called him a disgrace.  Today he suffers from PTSD and his mental state is fragile after the events left him addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs.  Why was someone who was doing exactly what he was told to do treated so harshly?

I have a hunch that the success and status that Grant had achieved was a threat to some senior officers.  Or perhaps the fact Grant was winning a war without the use of high tech weapons and contractors was a threat to defense contractors.  Either way, to be summarily pulled out of a special operations like this and to by dealt with so summarily smacks of a hidden agenda.  Read more about MAJ Grant here.

Iran sees how we treat our own soldiers, they won't be duped into thinking they can trust the US.

Read more here:

No comments: