Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 26, 2006

WB: Declare Victory and Go Home


Why "declare victory" in Iraq just so you can "declare victory" a little bit later in Afghanistan?

Well, I guess it is a British tradition of sorts.

Declare Victory and Go Home

Posted by b on October 26, 2006 at 17:39 UTC | Permalink


Hmm - Bush had two press conferences yesterday. On in the morning where the transcript was posted at the site, and one in the afternoon in the oval office. The transcript is at the NRO site.

Reading it - the guy is heavily on meds or whatever ...

Posted by: b | Oct 26 2006 17:57 utc | 1

Or, in the words of the noble knights of the Round Table, "Run away!"

Posted by: Dick Durata | Oct 26 2006 18:37 utc | 2

the guy is heavily on meds or whatever ...

jeez, there are so many absurdities in that press conference one wouldn't know where to begin!

did you catch this clincher..

Abizaid, who I think is one of the really great thinkers, John Abizaid — I don't know if you've ever had a chance to talk to him, he's a smart guy — he came up with this construct: If we leave, they will follow us here. That's really different from other wars we've been in. If we leave, okay, so they suffer in other parts of the world, used to be the old mantra. This one is different. This war is, if they leave, they're coming after us. As a matter of fact, they'll be more emboldened to come after us. They will be able to find more recruits to come after us.

ouch, convinced yet?

Let's see here. Interesting dynamic in the Middle East — just so you know — the main worry now from most of the leaders I've talked to is Iran. People in our country should find it illustrative that as Olmert began to reach out — Olmert campaigns on a platform:  "Vote for me, I'll withdraw from the West Bank."  I am a two-state solution person.  I don't believe Israel could possibly survive in the long-term unless there's a democracy on her border.  I don't see how she retains her Jewish state if there's not a place for Palestinians to go to.  That's why, on the right of return issue, I was pretty clear about changing the dynamics, for the first time in Middle Easter peace talks.

Olmert believes in the same thing.  His attitude is, if I don't have a partner, I'm going to withdraw anyway.  That's what he campaigned on.  My attitude is, give him a chance to participate with you in the process, to make it lasting.  He said, fine.  He starts to reach out to the Palestinians, the Jordanians, and others, and Hamas strikes; then Hezbollah strikes.  This is a group of extremists who can't stand the thought of democracy.


Q Just to follow up on what Tony was saying, if the — as you say, you need to be on the offense all the time and stay on the offense. Isn't the problem that the American people were behind — solidly behind this when you went in and you toppled the Taliban, when you go in and you topple Saddam. But when it just seems to be a kind of thankless semi-colonial policing defensive operation with no end — I mean, where is the offense in this? Instead of talking to Syria — can't Syria get some payback for sending all these guys over the border to subvert Iraq? Can't — shouldn't Syria be getting subverted in return, in some way?

THE PRESIDENT: Now you're thinking. (Laughter.) First of all, we are on the offense and we had made a conscience effort not to be a body count team. And you're right, and it's frustrating for me. So like I asked Pete Pace, how we doing. Every day, by the way, so you know, I see who dies on our team. I don't see who dies on their team. And so it gives you the impression that they're just there, they're kind of moving around, directing traffic, and somebody takes a shot at them and they're down. That's not exactly what's happening.

too much to list

Posted by: annie | Oct 26 2006 18:41 utc | 3

Blimey, I never realised that Gordon Brown was Welsh!

Posted by: dan | Oct 26 2006 19:54 utc | 4

The powers that be have been informed, by factions inside Iraq and Afghanistan, that an "unleash hell" moment is fast approaching when the indigenous populations in these countries will rid itself of the pesky Coalition flies, with a slap.

And the tick-tock turning of the screw in actions against the Coalition forces is taking place in order to make it clear what could happen, should someone give it a full turn.

Bush and Blair can't be sleeping much these days. Their "Bringing purple fingers to every corner of the world" campaign is not doing very well.

Posted by: SteinL | Oct 26 2006 20:22 utc | 5

Billmon: the Navy assets now on station in the Gulf are there in order to protect US forces during their withdrawal from Iraq, should a true tipping point occur. The US could no more attack Iran now than Hitler could march on Moscow in 1945.

Posted by: SteinL | Oct 26 2006 20:24 utc | 6

the cheney bush junta have lost this war some time ago - they just don't know it

they will lose this war & they will lose it decisively<; that is to say, humiliated. to a degree that will make dien ben phu or khe sahn seem like a picnic

not only will they lose but they will have done what panarabists have been unable to do - that is to find the steel that has always existed in the people of the desert & it will slice thru the hollow horror show - that is contemporary politics

at the heart of even the hardest islamic fundamentalists heart is a horror at the inequality of this world - an inequality generated by the u s empire - even if we accept slothrop's contention that it is just the bully boy of international capital

the empire & the fundamentalist are as one on the utilisation of this inequality. the empire seeks profit at all & any costs, the islamic fundamentalists seek to arrive at an ideological or political gain

& i have a feeling that islamic fundamentalism is only the blunt edge of that ideological weapon - it appears to me that here are generations in the middle east & in africa who are preparing themselves for the wars to come & they are no daydreamers because they have been borne in blood & not the semen that occidental culture seeks to reproduce its own image

we are no longer dynamic. we live off the wealth & the energy & the conciousness of the poor & the oppressed - that i believe is our destiny. the oppressed out of pure circumstance & like the slaves of antiquity before them they will transfrom this worl in a way neither a cheney or a bush & certainly not a rumsfield have the wit to see

& what the west does not understand in its own vanity & self concern that a village leader in anbar province has more rel power than a pretender like tony blair who is nothing more than the memory of a well run sunday school class

their world has finished & i think you can see it even in their cultural expression through mass culture - never has delirium held such sway - as it does now & billmon was right to ask the other day how come a sportscaster becomes the new edward murrow

the only thing t s eliot, that old anti-semite, had to say of substance was ; "we are the hollow men"

& in the west we have become hollow because we have believed or we have become complicit with crimes we should have fought more vigorously. i am as guilty of that crime as any other because even as an old leninist i have believed in a certain order

& that order, quite simply, does not exist

as someone has sd elsewhere, never has a culture been so entertained & so misinformed, so wilfully misinformed

& in the days & years to come - a bill will come to our table - & this history of our era will be written on it

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 26 2006 20:38 utc | 7

tho steinl - there is nothing like a rich man to play double or nothing with other people's lives

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 26 2006 20:47 utc | 8

& what is clear,as steinl suggests especially in the last 18 months that in iraq & in afghanistan - the resistance can hit - at their will & withdraw into the sea of people

if the cnnspeak were true - then they should have become isolated & easily targeted & the opposite is the truth. they are protected, nourished & manned by that sea of people

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 26 2006 21:02 utc | 9

the cheney bush junta knew they might! win but would probably lose. what matter to them? send off cannon fodder and profiteer. no matter. another day, another situation, move on.

islamic fundamentalists are a tiny, insignificant class, with no power at all.

what muslims have going for them is is not agression but appeals to solidarity and closing ranks against the oppressors and hegemon(s). and they will win, at great cost, but win, no doubt about it.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

 Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

Yup. (that was ts eliot.)

free drinks all round at the bar.

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 26 2006 21:11 utc | 10


y got me - there is perhaps more than one line in the old man's oeuvre

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 26 2006 21:14 utc | 11

Military Gulf exercise set for October 31

Oct 31: US-UK, France, & Bahrain exercise intercepting Gulf ships with WMD (new USS Liberty/Tonkin?)

You can never go home again...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 26 2006 21:15 utc | 12


When there were still bicycles I wept to have one. I crawled at your feet. You told me to go to hell. Now there are none.

--- from endgame, Beckett.

(that was for rgiap.)

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 26 2006 21:20 utc | 13

In and out the chamber the polywogs go,
Talking about Mr. Foley-oooh!

Posted by: | Oct 26 2006 21:31 utc | 14

"I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."

"I do not think that they will sing for me."

Posted by: beq | Oct 26 2006 21:31 utc | 15

Billmon: re the paranoia watch post. The information in the Kos diary is totally wrong.

The Enterprise Group, according to the US navy's own website, has left the Gulf and is now in the Arabian sea, presumably heading back to the USA; it's possible that it left early to make an appearance off the NoKo coast for a few days. The Eisenhower Group is at Limassol in Cyprus, which is a good 3000 mile sail ( 7 - 10 days ) from the Gulf - that's assuming of course that US naval assets are still incapable of teleporting. The ESG that is on exercise off the coast of Goa is a good 1200 miles from the Gulf, and is fully scheduled for some fun and frolics with their Indian counterparts.

This leaves one small US naval group, with no Aircraft carrier, in the Gulf, which is supposed to be doing the PSI exercises with the crack Bahraini fleet off the coast of Kuwait; contrary to rumours there appear to be no French or British naval assets joining in the rather pointless exercise - this is largely because North Korea stopped using boats to transport defence exports back in 2003, and has resorted to using cargo planes instead.

Contrary to the Iran attack hysteria, the sum total of all this is that the US naval presence in the Gulf is at its lowest point in, er, decades.

Posted by: dan | Oct 26 2006 21:39 utc | 16

In this forum I'm stating the obvious, but Iran has 140.000 hostages in Iraq, and getting them out under established Force Protection Rules is going to take some doing. Attacking Iran would result in attacks on US forces in Iraq that go far beyond anything we have seen now. And even if as the presence of US forces is scaled down, the vulnerability of those remaining will increase exponentially. It's a very tender game the US has to play now, if it is to have anything left to go marauding with in the future.

As to the true purpose of the Navy assets in the Gulf. Who knows what lunacy flashes inside the brains of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld?
But all the helicopters used to evacuate people from Saigon came from carrier groups such as those assembled now. These groups are also necessary to defend US personnel as they leave Iraq, should any players in the region choose to take advantage of the shambles about to ensue there.
It took Maliki exactly fifteen minutes to tell the world that Bush was spouting nonsense with his timetables and timelines -- no wonder the NeoCons have been talking about getting rid of the sitting government. You can just imagine what the US has been told in chambers.

Posted by: SteinL | Oct 26 2006 21:42 utc | 17


Back in 1975, the helicopters were coming from carriers parked less than 100km from Saigon - it's a 1000km+ round trip from Baghdad to the northernmost end of the Persian Gulf, and most helicopters simply don't have the range for a trip like that.

Posted by: dan | Oct 26 2006 21:48 utc | 18

Dan - so you're giving up the U.S. forces, then?

Not all are in Baghdad, you'll have to remember. And some are closer to "friendly" Kurdistan, and would go that way. We're talking about the people at the end of the exodus -- and they would be pulled out through waystations "north, south, east and west of there" - right?

Posted by: SteinL | Oct 26 2006 21:53 utc | 19

BTW - anyone catch Rumsfeld go down in flames in his press conference just now? His schtick is over.

Posted by: SteinL | Oct 26 2006 21:56 utc | 20

BTW - anyone catch Rumsfeld go down in flames in his press conference just now? His schtick is over.

Posted by: SteinL | Oct 26 2006 21:56 utc | 21

Yea, I read that he told war critics to "back off". He's a fucking disgrace.

Posted by: ran | Oct 26 2006 22:04 utc | 22

fin de partie/engame is perhaps my favourite with the joke about the tailor & the world being one of the best i know. still have a soft spot for mercier & camier, krapps last tape. something he says. paul auster tries to copy it into a routine & it was tiring from the first

beckett, today in the darkest of circumstances, gives me the giggles

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 26 2006 22:20 utc | 23

& rereading the magisterial memory of kim philby - my silent war - for the 50th time which is not without a sense of humour itself

i statrted writing for theatre with a meditation on philby & james jesus angleton - a friend of eliot & pound -about transcendance through betrayal - which is in itself another "british tradition of sorts"

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 26 2006 22:27 utc | 24

i did not see or hear the rumsfield routine but did he go through his question & answer(of himself) rigmarole of the hours

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 26 2006 22:33 utc | 25

Trumpets sound

the mermaids sway
swirl, the rocks

Declare victory!
March on, yes
Till victory is won

birds hide, flutter
apples fall

Triumph - silence now

blind eyes reflect the light
waves wash the dead

the mermaids gather foam with open hands


bit drunk, better to scribble than watch the teevee - krapps last tape is great. what always made me laugh the most was Watt. helpless. with laughter.

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 26 2006 22:37 utc | 26

Rumsfeld's Press Conference

RUMSFELD: "You ought to just back off, take a look at it, relax, understand that it's complicated, it's difficult," Rumsfeld said regarding deadlines. "Honorable people are working on these things together."
The nation must to a degree take it on faith that we too are honorable men devoted to her service. -- Richard Helms, CIA Director [found guilty of committing perjury]

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 26 2006 23:10 utc | 27

Yes, a Nimitz class CVN like Eisenhower can get through Suez.

Optimally carrier strike forces are made up of pods of three. Eisenhower, of course, has a greater air force alone than 90% of the nations on the planet. She can do a lot by herself.

"War?" What kinda funkin' war are these felons talking about? Strike force, seems to me, not occupation. Even they have not become that deranged. I doubt they will try it, actually.

It's always nice to have extra forces around, too. Amphibious groups are extremely useful in retreat, you know.

Posted by: paradox | Oct 26 2006 23:57 utc | 28

Here is an image of Eisenhower in the Suez canal.

Serious strike force is made up of at least three carriers and four Arleigh Burke Aegis class destroyers--the ultimate in air-to-air missile defense. One carrier group just doesn't strike me as that awesome or fearful, not considering what the United States Navy can really do.

Eisenhower is an awesome air power arm, yes. Air power can't solve the Iranian nuclear problem, not with conventional weapons, and Bush isn't that deranged yet either. I gullibly trust Sy Hersch that the nuclear genie has truly been put away.

Posted by: paradox | Oct 27 2006 0:21 utc | 29

Dan (#16),
Got a link? I checked & and couldn't find anything. I'm not being snarky, I genuinely would like to know.

Posted by: darms | Oct 27 2006 0:38 utc | 30

Afghan Officials Say Dozens of Civilians Died in NATO Military Strike

Dozens of civilians were killed in a NATO military strike against suspected Taliban insurgents, Afghan officials said Thursday. Villagers fled the southern region by car and donkey, and hundreds attended a funeral for about 20 people buried in a mass grave.

The civilian death toll, estimated by Afghan officials at between 30 and 85, including many women and children, is among the highest in foreign military action here since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
Maj. Luke Knittig, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said as many as 70 insurgents may have been killed in three clashes. The fighting took place in or around the villages of Lay Kundi and Mirwisa Mina. According to Knittig, Taliban fighters attacked NATO forces, drawing return artillery fire and airstrikes aimed at them.
Richards last month said reconstruction and development efforts, which many officers see as critical for winning over Afghans after the military action, would soon begin in the region. But since then, heavy fighting has broken out.

CENTAF releases airpower summary for Oct. 26

U.S. Central Command Air Forces officials have released the airpower summary for Oct. 26.

In Afghanistan Oct. 25, Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs provided close-air support for International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Khakeran. The A-10s expended a general-purpose 500-pound bomb on an enemy position.

Royal Air Force GR-7 Harriers provided close-air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Band-e Kajaki.

In total, 31 close-air-support missions were flown in support of ISAF and Afghan troops, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Posted by: b | Oct 27 2006 5:59 utc | 31

It appears to me that the carrier strike group in the eastern Med is not much further (by air) from Tehran (and other targets in NW Iran, which would be of primary concern along the Iraqi border) than if they were in the Persian Gulf. And probably a lot safer since the Iranian Navy is considered to have some heavy firepower.

So to say that because the carrier isn't in the Gulf means it's not capable of participating in an attack seems naive and possibly disingenuous.

With Iraq in between, there's certainly plenty of capacity to land and/or aerial refuel any aircraft from a Mediterrian-based carrier.

In fact, the more I think about the scenario the more it makes sense. Considering that an attack would certainly bring about an attempt at reprisials against our troops on the ground in Iraq, bases and other targets along the Iraqi/Iranian border would be of primary concern. There's almost no reason to send the carrier to the gulf, since southern and eastern Iran would be less important at the outset of hostilites, and we could certainly reach those targets from bases in Iraq anyway.

Already being on the ground in Iraq allows us to reach our 'legs' anywhere in the region without having to put our most important assets within reach of reprisals.

Posted by: lutton | Oct 27 2006 12:47 utc | 32


I fully expect an attack on Iran before election booths close in the USA.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Oct 27 2006 13:12 utc | 33


The distance from the Eastern Med to Teheran is near double that from the Persian Gulf, especially as flying over Syria - the most direct route - is not an option. It's largely irrelevant anyway: naval carrier aviation assets don't have spectacularly long ranges, so 3000km round-trip flights are not really feasible without adding layers of complex logistics support and logistics protection. Whilst parking them at airbases in Iraq is possible, these are all in easy range of Iran's large inventory of medium range missiles, and Baghdad is a mere 15-30 minute flight time for Iran's airforce coming out of Kermanshahr. Then again, when insurgent mortar teams are knocking out ammo dumps in Baghdad, a few Iranian special forces teams with the requisite kit and a good plan might well have the capacity to do runway interdiction all by their lonesome.

The closest US forces get to Iran is at Khanaqin in Diyala province, and like the rest of their buddies in Iraq, they already have their hands full trying to deal with an insurgency - they don't have the resources or the time to deal with additional problems as is.

Without a substantial naval presence in the Gulf, the US would be utterly incapable of preventing the Iranians from blocking the Straits of Hormuz and taking a large slice of the global oil supply off the markets. It gets worse than that: the ESG that is in the Gulf would be incapable of protecting the US naval bases in Bahrain and Dubai and the key logistics staging areas that run from the port of Kuwait into Iraq - a mere 30-45 minutes flight time for Iran's airforce from Abadan, Bandar Abbas or Shiraz.

Hard as it may be for some people to believe, Iran actually has the military advantage, and a delightful menu of killer strategic options that it can choose from, because it doesn't have 140k troops and the associated aviation and logistical assets tied down fighting an insurgency. Furthermore, the US military is tied to static positions at a relatively small number of well-known, key locations; the Iranians have the mobility advantage as they aren't stuck in a sea of raging chaos and under constant harrassment.

Posted by: dan | Oct 27 2006 13:24 utc | 34

Dan, (#16 & #34)
Again, can you give me a link to the strike group's status & location? I looked last night on & and couldn't find anything, my guess is that I was looking in the wrong place. No snark at all, I just want to verify this stuff for myself - I've been following this story for some time & good info has been hard for me to find. Thanx

Posted by: darms | Oct 27 2006 14:40 utc | 35


Sorry, I just followed the link that was embedded in a comment in the Kos diary. The URL This should give you the page which lists the locations of the various US ships on deployment.

Posted by: dan | Oct 27 2006 15:06 utc | 36

That is uncanny. I just got a copy of Philby's memoir, had never read it before.

The man had balls of steel, I have never read anything like it in my life.

Now on to Knightley's biog. (Knightley seems to like him, while Le Carre clearly loathed him.)

Posted by: Dismal Science | Oct 28 2006 1:37 utc | 37

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