One Fine Day

...little noticed and under-appreciated was how Bush/Cheney rule gave us the first "good war" of this new century. Oh, don't you remember? Afghanistan. That was a good war, wasn't it? It was justified. We went in after Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. We didn't get them but we sure got a lot of other people. You mean you don't remember? John Walker Lindh. The wedding party.all bombed out.ruined. Sure. But there's one thing about the United States. We don't intentionally target wedding parties...

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FOB Armadillo

Armadillo is the name of an FOB -  a "forward operating base" - in Afghanistan's Helmand province that is home to 170 Danish and British soldiers serving in the ISAF. Armadillo is also the name of a new film called by young Danish director Janus Metz that has provoked a furious debate in Denmark since its premiere in Cannes in mid-May. The Guardian picks up the story:

The incident that caused particular consternation comes toward the end of the documentary when the Danish soldiers are caught in a firefight with the Taliban. The soldiers are exhilarated after they finally kill their adversaries. What has shocked Danish public opinion is the suggestion (as one soldier later puts it) that they "liquidated wounded people and piled up the dead to take pictures of ourselves as heroes".

Armadillo doesn't offer conclusive proof that the Danish soldiers broke the rules of engagement. Nonetheless, the very possibility that they might have done is startling in itself. The public has been shocked by the level of brutality shown by Metz. The notion that the Danes are in Afghanistan on a peacekeeping mission and spend their days building schools and "giving out candy to kids" is clearly no longer tenable. What really happened when the Taliban in the ditch were killed is unlikely ever to be unravelled. Says Metz: "It was my intention to place the viewer in a position where he could say that it's not even possible to know what was going on. Maybe the soldiers don't even know themselves."

June 2010 was the deadliest month of the war in Afghanistan for ISAF troops with 101 killed in what is now nearly a nine year war. The previous deadliest month was August 2009, when there were a total of 77 ISAF casualties. The rules of engagement, which require stricter reviews of requests for the use of air power in the field than in the past and set strict protocols on when and how soldiers can use deadly force, were drawn up by Gen. Stanley McChrystal in an effort to limit the civilian casualties have been one of the Taliban’s principal recruiting tools.

But are the rules of engagment the cause of the increased causalities or it is to be expected given the increase in troops and the expanded scope of operation?

“From our perspective, while certainly these added casualties and the increased violence are unfortunate, it’s expected,” Air Force Lt. Col. John Dorrian, an spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul told Christian Science Monitor. “ISAF forces with their Afghan partners are challenging Taliban insurgents in territory that was in many cases completely controlled by them for years.”



The promise of a primary for Obama

Here's the line in the sand. Everyone pretty much believes now that Republicans are going to win back the House.  In the Senate, its even possible, but much less likely it seems. There are two issues that, if Obama does not draw his own line with Republicans, that he will lose the Party over.

First, the Bush tax-cuts. The notion that this is going to be something where Democrats can keep them in place for those under $250K, and end it for those above, is a false lie for anyone to pretend a possibility. The Republicans will not let that happen-- its all of them, or nothing.

The question is, with a Republican House, will there be 40 Democrats to filibuster the passage of the complete tax package, in the spring of 2011?  Do the math. Looking at it the other way, are there 13 or so Democrats who the Republicans can count on for cloture?  So, that (the complete Bush Tax Cuts) lands on Obama's desk. Lets ponder whether he would veto it or not.

Second, the Afghanistan quagmire. All it takes is to watch this video to realize the disengunuitity that Obama has performed with his reckless abandoment of his promise of his entire candidacy. There are knaves who would like to pretend that Obamaplayed a straight hand on Afghanistan with Democrats in the leadup to the 2008 election, but those are liars and fools. We are currently amidst Obama's own Friedman Unit, that expires in July 2011.

General Peatrus has played the President like a fiddle with the surge to over 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. The Generals now openly speak of there being no such deadline, and being in Afghanistan until 2020. VP Biden has cowardly backtracked on the deadline he said was set in stone.

That Obama will give us enduring war in Afghanistan beyond July 2011 seems a given. Will it come on the heels of his buckling to the Republican passage of the Bush Tax cut package? 

And when I say lose the Party, I mean explicitly that he will be primaried in 2012, and hopefully, denied the nomination.

Wikileaks Iraq documents raise critical questions

The trove of Iraq war documents recently made public by Wikileaks underscores several important truths.

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