“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Friday, April 04, 2003

Bollettino

Was LI harsh about the intertwining of colonial and financial interests in Iraq in our last post? We have an irrepressible lowness of mind, which gets a sick kick out of reading such items as this, from a column by Hussein Ibish in today's LA Times:

"The management of the port of Umm al Qasr, one of the few places in Iraq under complete Western control, has produced a split between British and American authorities. The British view is that the Iraqi manager, who has been in his position for years, is capable of doing the job. Our government insisted, however, in providing a lucrative contract to run the port to Stevedoring Services of Seattle."

So, of course, we wondered, who is Stevedoring Services? Phillip Mattera, of the Corporate Research Project, tracks down the ideology of this company:

"Stevedoring Services of America (SSA), the contractor chosen for this task, has never worked in a war zone, but it has been in the middle of another kind of struggle: the battle between labor and management in the West Coast ports of the United States. In fact, Seattle-based SSA -- the largest marine terminal operator in the country -- was considered the main corporate culprit in the lockout of dockworkers last fall; the International Longshore and Warehouse Union accused the company of union-busting. �While most employers want to work with us to implement new technologies,� ILWU President James Spinosa said last September, �SSA is undermining negotiations because their primary interest is breaking the union.� ILWU spokesman Steve Stallone was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as saying� �It�s ideological with these people. They are ideologically anti-union and anti-ILWU.�

SSA has a reputation in the region -- much as a dead rat behind the wall soon gets a reputation in a household. SSA was involved in a dispute in Bangladesh, according to Mattera, that involved a proposal to build a 500 million dollar containerized terminal. When Bangledesh's government seemed unappreciative of SSA's hardball tactics, the US ambassador there operated as a useful company cut-in, uttering a few threats of her own.

The company is privately held. The founder, Jon Hemingway, is, you might have guessed, a Bush man. During the Dockworkers lock-out, the Seattle paper published a little profile of the company. We especially like the trick they pulled in New Zealand --declaring bankruptcy, then reforming and rehiring their workers on a non-union basis. Nice way to violate contract law and get away with it, guys! No wonder President Bush loves ya.

So... it looks suspicious. Luckily, we know Smilin' Jay Garner, the choice of the Iraqi people, would never allow his country to be violated by predatory American companies with ties to the White House. It would just go against his grain.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Bollettino

As the H.G. Wells aspect of the War deepens -- is this the War between the Worlds, or is it the end of the Island of Doctor Moreau? -- it seems to be the case that all of Saddam's horses and all of his men can't put the guy's moustache together again. If, in fact, the war was directed by a double, with the Old Man conveniently buried under the ruins of some bunker, Smilin' Jay Garner should definitely hire that guy in one of the Gunga Din posts the Americans are preparing for a grateful, liberated Iraqi people. In fact, if he has any contacts in the double biz for a Bush look-alike...

Speaking of Smilin' Jay, since Democracy is being determined by American military forces, you would think that we would seek to win hearts and minds with a reality tv show in which four or five ex Ceos of various military hardware companies vied to be proconsul of Iraq. It could be like Survivor. A comic bit could involve all of them trying to speak arabic -- laughter all around, and it will be a two-fer: not only will it show that Americans have a sense of humor about the whole thing, but it will be an invitation to Iraqis to join in the laughter.

Winning their hearts and minds in the fog of war, of the fog of war journalism, is oh so hard. We need, as Rumsfeld might say, to think outside the box, here, guys.

The Republican Guard turned out to be a dud. The fedayeen, on the other hand, is scrapping out there in the countryside, and we doubt that Baghdad's fall is going to put a stop to them. The Guardian's Rory McCarthy reports that the Coalition of the Willing is beginning to understand that the second phase of the war is beginning. This phase does not contain Saddam Hussein. It contains an American occupying force and their consorts, hauled in from the swamps of the Potomac, and eager to make some bucks on the Iraqi frontier.
"If they blend into the city and become sleepers they could generate an enduring, destabilising influence in the aftermath," a senior British officer said. "We can envisage an aftermath in which some of these irregulars might re-emerge to champion some sort of cause."

Before the war few senior officers believed they would face such strong resistance from the paramilitaries ahead of the final battle for Baghdad. In fact, three groups, the Saddam Fedayeen, the Special Security Organisation and the Ba'ath party militia, emerged immediately, even in the very south of the country, as a significant fighting force. Militia groups are still holed up in the southern city of Basra, as well as other towns on the route north, including Nassiriya, Najaf and Kerbala."

The Saddam-ist tendency will do much better without the old man around to bloodily dodder about. And they will certainly gain traction from the resistance to Smilin Jay. Mother Jones reports that there is even a dumpjaygarner web site. Well, that sounded to us like a thing of beauty and a joy for ever, so we clicked on over to it, and signed a letter to dump the guy. The letter goes to George Bush, so there 's no chance it will be heard, or have an effect -- but there's always the possibility leadership doubles will rise up and overthrow him, so we sent it anyway. And finally, The NYT published an extended trawl through the wonderland of Wolfowitz, giving us such tidbits as this:
-- Iraqi freedom fighters (these are tough guys -- they jog on some of toughest paths by the Potomac every day, five miles sometimes) by unanimous verdict, give the information ministers post to Robert Reilly, formerly of the Voice of America.

---Timothy Carney, former U.S. ambassador to Sudan, just seems so right to take on Iraq's Ministry of Industry. Hey, he's just the kind of guy to throw an impartial glance at all those plans to re-build the Iraq we bombed to shit... until he finds, by utter coincidence, an engineering conglomerate with close ties to the Bush administration to do the work!

---Iraqis have long had their eye on Robin Raphel, ex ambassador to Tunisia. Finally a chance to get him to work for them! Yes, in the post of Ministry of Trade. Shi'ites will no doubt be in the dancing and flower throwing mood when Robin ascends to the seat -- they've longed for him, as we all know, for years.

---Ministry of Foreign Affairs was, of course, a tough one. Now, liberals, who no doubt would like some mamby pamby quota system to throw up an Iraqi as Minister for Iraq's Foreign Affairs, are going to grumble. Let em grumble -- the Supreme Court will sort em out! Ha ha! But we know the grateful Iraqi masses can't wait for Kenton Keith to take the reins there. No doubt Keith will be much more understanding, shall we say -- enthusiastic, even -- about what Donald Rumsfeld calls the "so called Occupied Territories."

So, in the words of our Prez himself, "And the liberation of millions is the fulfillment of America's founding promise." So modest, our Bush. The fullfillment of so many dreams -- the starry dreams of Raytheon, of Brown and Root, of Fluor, Inc. -- are embodied in the sturdy of these men and women, standing straight for their companies and their country.
Bollettino

My friend H. writes in to tell us to knock off "Saddam the H." -- too much H. ambiguity going on. Well, soon we will be able to draw a line through Saddam's name. In our humble opinion, if he isn't dead, he might as well be. As we've said, monotonously, the war's second phase -- Iraqi liberation by Iraqis -- succeeded its first phase -- Saddam the letter-after-G's mother of all battles --so quickly that they were one and the same.
H. also wondered about the oil, and the fires that didn't consume the oilfields. We don't know why the fires weren't started. But we are interested in the fate of the oil, too. Anatole Kaletsky, the financial editor of the London Times, has a sanguine view of the economic consequences of the War. But it seems to us it is not only sanguine -- it seems improbable. In the Times, he lays out, justly, the present state of play on the battlefield Iraq. The oil fields of Iraq are securely under American control.

"Financial markets think only of profits and economic prospects � and the threat to the global economy from the war has diminished almost to vanishing point in the past ten days, regardless of what may or may not be happening on the streets of Baghdad. To understand what I mean it is sufficient to glance at the map on the right. This shows the main oilfields, pipelines and pumping stations of Iraq. As is evident, the great bulk of Iraq�s oil assets are in the southeast and north, around Basra and Kirkuk. Indeed, the four great oilfields of the Basra region � Rumaila, West Qurna, Majnoon and Nahr Umar � account for about two thirds of Iraq�s oil production of 3.5 million barrels a day. The giant Kirkuk oilfield, the first to be developed in the Middle East and, 80 years later, still one of the most productive, provides about half the remaining output. This leaves less than 15 per cent of Iraq�s oil output coming from the other fields dotted around the centre of the country, including the large, but relatively underdeveloped, production area in east Baghdad."

The seizure of thes fields undamaged, Kaletsky writes, will quickly bring about pre-91 levels of oil production. And that is that, as far as Iraq's economic importance is concerned.

Kaletsky is right to point out that Iraq's significance, for the World Economy, is all about bubblin' crude. However, it is hard to imagine that instability in post -Saddam Iraq -- an Iraq that seems, by American account, to be here, since Saddam the H. has been laid to rest in the rubble -- is not going to impinge on oil flow. However, the Bush-ites, ever eager to make Iraq a colony of D.C.'s wildest wishes, has already sharpened up a plan for that oil. As per usual, they've dug up some self-interested old capitalist crony of (no doubt) Rumsfeld, and they've got lawyers working on how to transfer the oilfields to American power -- for the benefit, of course, of the Iraqi people, always first in our minds and hearts. The WP has a nice article today about the picking of Philip J. Carroll, former Shell executive. Here's one of the deeper-in grafs:


"Carroll, the former Shell executive, who retired last year as chief executive of Fluor Corp., would report to retired Army lieutenant general Jay M. Garner, named by the Pentagon to direct postwar reconstruction as head of a new Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. Fluor, an engineering and construction firm, is one of the companies bidding for reconstruction contracts. Carroll declined to comment today.

"If it's correct, it's a splendid choice," said Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty III, the Clinton White House chief of staff who is now president of Kissinger McLarty & Associates. "I think he's particularly well suited. He's thoroughly knowledgeable in the industry. He's had a proven record of success."

The Iraq war, it is turning out, is just an M&A of Rumsfeld, Inc. In gratitude for his outstanding work, we are waiting to see if Bush gives the country to him. A sort of stock option to keep his interests aligned with the company's, as it were.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Bollettino

MSNBC�s Michael Morin makes the LI case that the War, if it isn�t being seen as a Liberation, will be seen as an invasion. Of course, a piece like this should have been run in February � it was all entirely predictable then. That is, we knew that the D.C. ultra-hawks didn�t know a thing about Iraq. They showed no knowledge of the place, beyond their conviction that Saddam the H. was a bloody tyrant. So they made up an alternative Iraq. In this Iraq, America and American ways were much loved. They were so loved that the people would beam with joy as Smilin� Jay Garner assumed the proconsul�s role. They were so loved that the two years of occupation the Rumsfeldian plan calls for would be, itself, a love fest � imagine the scene! Starving and semi-starving Iraqis would look upon the act of divvying up oilfields to private American companies as the least they could do to say, well, thanks old buddy! And as for using the territory as a staging ground for future American liberations of various other Moslem countries � why, there�d be no Turkish tergiversations about that!

Morin has a nice graf about the future � which is within twenty miles of Baghdad, apparently, if we can trust today�s news.

� The quick victory many had hoped for � one that swept Saddam and his cronies from power, accompanied by mass surrenders and an outburst of relief on the part of ordinary Iraqis � would have been viewed as almost a mandate for the war. Its critics at home and among U.N. Security Council members would have been muted.
So far, quite the opposite has occurred.
Iraq�s own plan to resist the invasion has entranced the Arab world and other countries who felt the U.S.-led war bordered on bullying.
Within Iraq itself, the bitterness of the resistance being put up to U.S. and British troops, even in regions where Saddam�s rule is heavily resented, does not bode well for postwar forces.�

Compare Morin to Kanan Malikya�s latest

Those who imply that a rising surge of ''nationalism'' is preventing Iraqis from greeting American and British troops with open arms are wrong. What is preventing Iraqis from rising and taking over the streets of their cities is confusion about American intentions. That is confusion created by the way this war has been conducted and by fear of the murderous brown-shirt thugs, otherwise known as Saddam's Fedayeen, a militia loyal to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who control the streets of Iraqi cities and who are conducting the harassing attacks on American and British soldiers.

The coalition forces have not yet sent clear and unmistakable signals to the people of Iraq that, unlike 1991, there will be no turning back before Saddam Hussein's regime has been overturn. But in order to do this effectively they must count on the Iraqi opposition, which has so far been marginalized.

Iraqis do not get CNN. They have not heard, as we have, constant iterations of how Hussein's demise is imminent. More important, they have not seen evidence of his difficulties, as they did in 1991, when they revolted after two months of not seeing his image on TV or hearing him and his henchmen on the radio. Coalition forces so far have been content to position themselves outside cities in southern Iraq; only after incessant urging from members of the Iraqi National Congress (INC) have they finally begun to disrupt Iraqi TV, Hussein's principal means for not losing face in Iraq. And above all, coalition forces have not allowed Iraqis to go in and organize the population, something they are eager and willing to do.�

LI is, oddly enough, in agreement with the ultrahawks on this issue -- at least insofar as the employment of Iraqi troops is concerned. We have a feeling that the reason the Free Iraqi troops have not been �embedded� � Frank Gaffney�s term in the Washington Times � is that the Coalition forces fear that they will fall on their faces. This has happened before, as we know. Here�s a link to a history of the INC � the Iraqi opposition group that Kanan Malikya and Ahmad Chalabi belong to. Now, it looks pretty bad � these are by no means the Garibaldis of Iraq. Rather, the INC looks more like the anticommunist Chinese groups set up by the CIA in the fifties � groups which were invariably defeated, due to an absolute disconnect between the people and their supposed champions. Luce, the owner of Time, etc., was the godfather of those earlier groups. The INC started out with a less elevated patronage:

The agency turned to Washington insider John Rendon, whose "strategic communications" consulting firm The Rendon Group had provided support in 1988 to "spin" both the Panamanian and American media during Panama's doomed presidential election campaign. One of Rendon's most recent clients, in fact, had been the Kuwaiti royal family to help them in creating a sympathetic image in the U.S. during the Gulf War. This was a man not only with a proven track record but who also had experience in the Middle East. If anyone could get the job done, it was John Rendon.
Rendon and his team worked with the CIA to build the Al-Mu'tamar al-Watani al-Iraqi (Iraqi National Congress - INC) in 1991, and according to ABC News, "provided it with its name and more than US$12 million in covert funding between 1992 and 1996." Intelligence officers correctly saw Iraqi Kurd factions as the most potent force against Hussein's autocracy, but needed a platform for which to unite them under. So they recruited Ahmad Chalabi, an American-educated Arab Shi'ite banker who has extensive ties with Iraqi Kurds, to head the INC so that it could bring together Kurds, Iraqi Shiites, and dissident Sunni Muslims against Hussein.�

According to the Clandestine Radio article, Chalabi nearly defeated the Republican Guard in 1995. His defeat was caused by lack of American air support. This is the spin put on it ever since, by Chalabi's Perle-ish friends. According to the BBC, however, the Chalabi offense did have limited support, but was defeated anyway. Chalabi seems to have put together his troops and made his deals with the Kurds on the promise of US air support, even though there was no such promise. Thinking that a fait accompli would draw in the Americans, he attacked with 15,000 troops and was defeated.

Zero hour has been striking -- in fact, it has been striking for the last two weeks -- and the Kurds seem to be able to coordinate with the Americans to move towards Kirkuk. We wonder if Chalabi's absence from that advance is wholly fortuitous. The man might not be very liked in Northern Iraq, after the 1995 debacle.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Bollettino

In all the American media attention given to the suicide bomber, little has been made of the fact that the guy was a Shi'ite. Hmm. The Guardian carries a thumbsucker by the usually reliable Dilip Hiro that reports on the theologico-politico complexities into which Americans, whistling like Donnie Rumsfeld soaping himself up in the shower, have wandered

"Earlier, any prospects of an uprising in the predominantly Shi'ite city of Basra disappeared on Tuesday when Grand Ayatollah Mirza Ali Sistani issued a fatwa, calling on "Muslims all over the world" to help Iraqis in "a fierce battle against infidel followers who have invaded our homeland". Sistani is based in Najaf, the third holiest place of Shi'ite Muslims, and it is likely that Nomani, a Shi'ite, was following his fatwa. As the only grand ayatollah of Iraq, Sistani is the most senior cleric for Iraqi Shi'ites, who form 70% of ethnic Arabs in Iraq. Any Anglo-American attempt to devalue Sistani's opposition to the invasion - by saying he's a Saddam stooge, for example - will boomerang because of his status; there are only five grand ayatollah's in the world.

By now it is apparent that the Anglo-American decision-makers made a monumental miscalculation by imagining that Iraqis in the predominantly Shi'ite southern Iraq would welcome their soldiers as liberators. It stems from their blind faith in the unverified testimonies of the Iraqi defectors combined with their failure to realise the complexity of the task of overthrowing President Saddam Hussein's regime."
Bollettino

As liberation nears, and the irrepressible Iraqi will turns to the man whose picture is, secretly, in every Iraqi home (we mean smilin' Jay Garner, the American proconsul in waiting, who, if he could speak Arabic, would give a big shout out to all his Shi'ia buddies) we should contemplate how gracefully America is monetizing that gratitude. There's a nice piece by Frida Berrigan in In These Times (for which yours truly has written) concerning the Cheney-Halliburton connection. Dick Cheney chose to take his compensation from Halliburton (for moving down to a post as a Halliburton lobbyist - oops, I mean as Vice President of the United States), which comes out to between $100,000 and $1,000,000 per annum. And Brown and Root, everybody's favorite engineering squad, and a Halliburton subsidiary, seems on schedule for cleaning up in the great post-liberation afterwards:

"Critics argue that the U.S. Agency for International Development ignored the expertise and experience of well-regarded NGOs with decades of experience in humanitarian work in Iraq in their secretive contract process. USAID asked just five for-profit corporations to submit bids for $900 million in reconstruction contracts for the initial phase of work, scheduled to last just six months. Of course, these companies will be best situated to win billions in future contracts. An American Academy of Arts and Sciences report estimated that the reconstruction of Iraq could cost anywhere from $30 billion to $105 billion over the next decade.

KBR not only has the corner on postwar reconstruction, they were also granted a potentially huge contract to fight oil well fires throughout Iraq, even though they did not submit a bid for the job. In November, the Pentagon hired KBR to write a classified contingency plan for dealing with the fires, allowing the company to position itself for this job long before the war was a fait accompli. President Bush just asked Congress for $500 million for oil field repair, and KBR is standing by to take the money."

Sweet! Of course, it helps that Iraqi proconsul Garner is himself making a small pile on the war. As is Richard Perle. Berrigan could have included a link to Waters website, where there is a press release concerning her amendment. Here?s the link. We don't imagine this story is going to be coming to your local paper anytime soon.
Bollettino

Men have no right to what is not reasonable and to what is not for their benefit; for though a pleasant writer said, Licet perire poetis, when one of them, in cold blood, is said to have lept into the flame of a volcanic revolution, Ardentum figidus Aenam insulit, I consider such a frolic rather as an unjustifiable poetic licence, than as one of the franchises of Parnassus; and whether he were a poet, or divine, or politician, that chose to exercise this kind of right, I think that wise, because more charitable thoughts would urge me rather to save the man, than to preserve his brazen slippers as the monuments of his folly. � Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France.

We received an email from an old friend, C. a couple of days ago. Among other remarks, C. said that he wasn�t as far to the left, of course, as LI. Moi, was our startled response. So we asked our friend S. When she said that of course, we were as left as they come, we explained that at least our anti-war impulse comes from a very Tory side of our character. The War violates American tradition; the War's shapers seek the installation of a new order from above, by state dictate, in Iraq; and the War's effects will be to initiate an enterprise founded, essentially, on a doctrine of might is right. Isn�t this the blank white face that Burke discerned behind the theorists and the idealists of the French Revolution as well as behind the krewe of British looters in Bengal? We are not Tory enough to accept Burke uncritically about the French Revolution, but we understand, in our middle age, a bit more about the damage done by the frolics of the intellectual in power. This war, in particular, has been designed, argued for, and implemented through the agency of a small, distinct cabal of such intellectuals. We know who they are because they are quite proud of who they are. We know how they spread their particular brand of fever. We know how they took advantage of an attack on this country, and we know that they did this with intent. And we know that their ideas are bad � and we will know this ever more intimately as those ideas are brought to the bloody test of reality in Iraq, where they will fail to meet even the most basic challenges of common sense. We know that their manners are appalling. We know that manners express, here, something deep about their desires. It isn�t just that the Bush administration fumbled the diplomatic niceties in the build-up to war � the message conveyed by all that Rumsfeldian bullying was that diplomatic niceties were so much sugarcoating, so much falsity, to be carelessly thrown over the new world order. Burke would have been the first to spot the rooted viciousness here. When your diplomats talk like thugs, generally you can bet they will act like thugs. Words dispose towards acts. Power lust is the enemy of all mankind, whenever it appears. It�s the booted devil in the horde, the militia, the brigade, the onslaught. It�s the killer in our midst. And it is impossible not to observe this lust at work in every facet of the appalling rush towards War � a rush that has now been quietly retired from the journalist�s lexicon in favor of the rush, as it were, towards Baghdad.

We didn�t convince S.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Bollettino

We have come to expect the worst from the Bush administration. For months, the British papers have claimed that the hawks around Rumsfeld take seriously the various scenarios of world domination and Middle Eastern conquest promulgated by the likes of Wolfowitz and Donald Feith. These are Kraus's Likudniks -- a group who feels that Israel is America's 51st state. Or 50th -- this group doesn't include liberal Massachussetts in the USA. The claims are proving all too accurate. This weekends salvos with Syria are evidence of more madness. Here's today's report in the NYT:



Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. had started the war of words on Friday, when he accused Damascus of shipping sensitive military technology to the Iraqi Army, specifically night-vision goggles. These shipments, Mr. Rumsfeld said, "pose a direct threat to coalition forces." He added, "We consider such trafficking as hostile acts and will hold the Syrian government responsible."

The United States military considers its night vision technology to be a major advantage over the Iraqis. But today, a senior American commander serving in the Gulf said he had seen no evidence that the Iraqi Army has obtained night-vision goggles.

"We have not to my knowledge seen any at this point," Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said during a news briefing in Qatar."

Another interesting article in the Al Ahram Weekly -- to which we were pointed by Slate --
gives a little photo op of who is dissing whom in the Iraqi opposition. As we've said before, this opposition is spending its credility with the abandon of a junkie with a stolen platinum MasterCard. The most interesting quote comes from "Kamil Al-Mahdi, a professor of Middle East Economics at Exeter Universityand a member of the liberal Iraqi opposition in exile."

"There were those within the ranks of the Iraqi opposition who portrayed this war to be a walk in the park for the allied troops. Hence, Americans were led to believe that the Republican Guard units would soon switch sides and this would be coupled with a Shi'ite uprising in the south against Saddam. But to their surprise, this did not materialise, at least until now."
Al-Mahdi said that the fact that the opposition in exile miscalculated the strength of the Iraqi resistance is strong proof of how they have lost touch with reality in Iraq. "They can no longer claim to say they represent either the interests or the will of the Iraqi people. It will be very difficult to impose them as the new rulers of Iraq after Saddam is gone," Al-Mahdi said."

Kamil Mahdi wrote a prescient article for CounterPunch a month ago. In it, he seems to predict that the US would use an Iraqi mercenary force -- which hasn't happened yet. But the idea that the war would entail high Iraqi casualties seems to be pretty much on target. . About the Iraqi opposition, he wrote this:


Now that the US has a new policy, it intends to implement it rapidly and with all its military might. Despite what Blair claims, this has nothing to do with the interests and rights of the Iraqi people. The regime in Iraq is not invincible, but the objective of the US is to have regime change without the people of Iraq. The use of Iraqi auxiliaries is designed to minimise US and British casualties, and the result may be higher Iraqi casualties and prolonged conflict with predictably disastrous humanitarian consequences. The Bush administration has enlisted a number of Iraqi exiles to provide an excuse for invasion and a political cover for the control of Iraq. People like Ahmad Chalabi and Kanan Makiya have little credibility among Iraqis and they have a career interest in a US invasion. At the same time, the main forces of Kurdish nationalism, by disengaging from Iraqi politics and engaging in internecine conflict, have become highly dependent upon US protection and are not in a position to object to a US military onslaught. The US may enlist domestic and regional partners with varying degrees of pressure.
Post

When this War began, Mr. Limited Inc and Mr. Gadfly had a little discussion about the nature of forecasts. Mr. Limited Inc took exception to Mr. Gadfly's idea that nothing could be known about what the future held. Au contraire mon frere, we said. We know that one thing will happen and then another thing will happen. This might seem like a whole lotta null set, but it is really a whole lotta structure. We reject radical skepticism about the structure of the future. However, to be honest, we are making a point that is besides the point for Mr. Gadfly, who was pointing out something about knowledge. . Nobody in the U.S. knows enough about Iraq, and nobody in Iraq knows enough about the U.S., to make any wise prediction as to the outcome, on a realtime basis, of their encounter. This is actually a very strong point. We even think it is one of the strongest points that can be made.

But we think our point is also strong. Structure is important because, while it doesn't give us a picture of the substance of future events, it gives us a rule about how they must unfold. Ignoring the "then and then and then" structure puts a plan on a collision course with reality. When a plan violates the principle that the past has already happened (or, in other words, when a plan is premised on an incompletely known past, or a past that has been distorted by the planner in some way), it will fail, even if its outcome, by happy chance, occurs. If I try to burn down a building on a stormy day with wet matches, the building is not going to torch -- but a lightening stroke might do the trick. Plans have a trajectory over time. Planners who aren't sensitive to the temporal nature of the plan's actualization are also in violation of the above rule, although in a subtler sense -- they are adding to the past as they try to control a process that is going on into the future. We have to understand, in other words, how to sum over probabilities, and how to revise ourselves when those probabilities are realized over time.

This is why, so often, business plans go awry. Businessmen are peculiarly prone to becoming prisoners of the superlative. They are addicts of the vision statement, in which �best practices", "superb performance", and the "highest levels of excellence" vie with each other to debauch meaning. They throw around locutions like �"world class," and they are big believers in a crude version of William James' Will to Believe -- they like to think that wishing on a star will make your wish come true, or at least true enough that they can get sell their options on the star before it twinkles out. Ross Perot is the echt businessman. He came dancing out of that culture, he mouthed that culture's platitudes, and he seemed to speak a slightly deranged variant of the English tongue. Bush has the same problem. Language is always such a naysayer. But all too often, the vision statement fails. The dogs won't eat the dogfood. The punchdrunk won't drink the punch. What to do? After all, one has just indulged in an orgy of orgulousness? At this point, you look around for traitors. Failure becomes a question of disloyalty.

This is pertinent: after all, we are being directed in this war by the CEO mindset armed.

This is important if, as we think is the case, we are seeing the war split into two. One is the war against Saddam the Horrific. The other is the war against the post-Saddam guerrilla. The latter has no name, yet; the incipient program is simply, repel the invader. As the invader triumphs, setting up a state run by Rumsfeld's creepy buddy, Jay Garner (who has a first class ticket to Bushs monster ball, being one of the numerous hawks who have day jobs as Perlish vultures), we will have a new war. In this one, the Iraqi state will be our ally against Iraqi "terrorists" -- that is, the people who are firing on American forces and their Iraqi collaborators. In the new war, the goal will be a lot clearer -- it will be to repel the occupiers. As the krewe of Iraqi exiles preferred by the Pentagon are installed (over the resistance of other Iraqis) get set up, the traditional lines of the conflict will become clear a client state, an imperialist sponsor, and the usual poisonous symbiosis between them, with the client depending on the sponsor to sustain it at the same time that that dependence renders it illegitimate.

Slate's Fred Kaplan wrote an interesting report, last week, on how the military gamed its own war game on Iraq. The war game pitted two teams -- the blues, representing true blue America, and the reds, representing red as in blood Saddam H. As soon as the red team started acting in such a fashion as to upset the blue team, the rules were changed, moves were disallowed, and in general the pre-ordained triumph of the blues was vindicated at the expense of the game's realism.


Kaplan restrains himself when it comes to the Strangelovian name of the Red commander Van Riper, one "p" away from Ripper, if you can believe it �Here are three grafs that tell a lot about Bush's War:

For instance -- and here is where he displayed prescience - Van Riper used motorcycle messengers to transmit orders to Red troops, thereby eluding Blue's super-sophisticated eavesdropping technology. He maneuvered Red forces constantly. At one point in the game, when Blue's fleet entered the Persian Gulf, he sank some of the ships with suicide-bombers in speed boats. (At that point, the managers stopped the game, "refloated" the Blue fleet, and resumed play.)

"Robert Oakley, a retired U.S. ambassador who played the Red civilian leader, told the Army Times that Van Riper was "out-thinking" Blue Force from the first day of the exercise.

"Yet, Van Riper said in his e-mail, the game's managers remanded some of his moves as improper and simply blocked others from being carried out. According to the Army Times summary, "Exercise officials denied him the opportunity to use his own tactics and ideas against Blue, and on several occasions directed [Red Force] not to use certain weapons systems against Blue. It even ordered him to reveal the location of Red units."

Finally, Van Riper quit the game in protest, so as not to be associated with what would be misleading results.��

The blue game is the one they are reporting 24/7 in the American news media. We wonder how long it is going to take before the Red game is reported. Iraq, as we keep reminding our loyal band of readers, is not Afghanistan - or not, at least, the Afghanistan of our dream war. In reality, Afghanistan is heating up again -- we simply aren't paying attention to it. As why should we - we aren't planning on making Afghanistan an American protectorate. That cow doesnt milk, as we say in Texas. Or is it that cow doesn't hunt dogs? We always mix up our folksy phrases.