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Likely Scenario That Will Be Pretense For War With Iran February 10, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Commentary, Congress, Main, Military News, Politics, US News, White House, World News.
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This will be my last post on Not A Pundit. With the birth of my second “baby pundit” I find that I am having to squeeze my news posts at odd hours of the day. I leave you all with this final post on what I hope will not come to be true, but I think that Zbigniew Brzezinski has laid out a likely scenario that will be pretense for war with Iran.

Unless you live like a hermit or live in a cave, you must be aware of the Bush saber rattling towards Iran. The nuclear weapons issue is important but some analyst agree Iran is years away from being able to build a weapon. I’m not an intelligence official so it may be true or it may not be true, but one thing that is true is the capture of five Iranians in Iraq that has increased tensions between both the US and Iran. Iraq has become a military quagmire at a time when North Korea, Venezuela and Iran are testing our world hegemony. That is not a good thing to show the world. So what to do?

Iraq has become a proxy battleground between Washington and Tehran, which is challenging – at least rhetorically – the U.S.’s dominance of the Gulf. That has worried even Iraq’s U.S.-backed Shiite prime minister, who – in a reflection of Iraq’s complexity – also has close ties to Iran.

Prof. Gary Sick, a leading authority on Iran, believes the U.S. is seeking to divert world attention from the crisis in Iraq and organize a coalition of Israel and conservative Sunni Arab states to confront Iran.

“The truth is that Iraq is a mess. It is in a state of low-level civil war. And all of these groups are largely self-motivated,” he said on the Council on Foreign Relations Web site. “But it’s much easier to blame it on the Iranians.”

Would the US go to war with Iran alone? Yes and no. At this point I don’t see the US confronting Iran militarily without some Sunni Arab support. Not necessarily military but tacit approval from those nations. Israel and NATO frankly are the better military allies.

The truth is that Iraq is a powder keg ready to explode. In more ways than just a proxy war between the US and Iran. But a powder keg indeed:

In Tehran, political analyst Hermidas Bavand said U.S. force increases were leading many Iranians to believe Washington is looking to pick a fight.

“It’s an extremely dangerous situation,” Bavand said. “I don’t think Tehran wants war under any circumstances. But there might be an accidental event that could escalate into a large confrontation.”

The US has increased its military presence in the Persian Gulf with additional battle carriers. The troop surge supposedly to go to Iraq is forming in Kuwait awaiting their orders. Hhmm…I wonder when they’ll reach Iraq?

Let there be no doubt of possible war with Iran, because our President has made it clear:

Bush said Monday the U.S. “will respond firmly” if Iran escalates military action in Iraq and endangers U.S. forces. The U.S. accuses Iran of arming and training Shiite Muslim extremists in Iraq. U.S. troops have responded by arresting Iranian diplomats in Iraq, and the White House has said Bush signed an order allowing U.S. troops to kill or capture Iranians inside Iraq.

This leads me to my final point that reminds me of an article that went over the newswires that grabbed little attention. Basically Zbigniew Brzezinski laid out to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee what he thought would be the likely outcome of a continued military quagmire in Iraq and the likely scenario leading to a confrontation with Iran.

Zbigniew Brzezinski also told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Bush administration policy was driven by “imperial hubris” and has proved to be a disaster on historic, strategic and moral grounds.

“If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, and I emphasize what I am about to say, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large,” Brzezinski said.

Brzezinski set out as a plausible scenario for military collision: Iraq fails to meet benchmarks set by the U.S., followed by accusations that Iran is responsible for the failure and then a terrorist act or some provocation blamed on Iran. This scenario, he said, would play out with a defensive U.S. military action against Iran.

That, Brzezinski said, would plunge the U.S. into a quagmire that eventually would range across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Brzezinski’s Solution:

Proposing a massive shift in policy, Brzezinski said the U.S. should announce with no ambiguity its determination to leave Iraq “in a reasonably short period of time.”

Can this be something that our President will do? I’m not holding my breath. Can Congress use its legislative power to push for such a massive policy shift? Lets all hope they can. They can recall the National Guard back to the states. They can place a cap on troops in Iraq. They can refure to provide funding for additional troops. They simply can refuse to authorize the President to go to war with Iran. Plain and simple. Our congressional leaders just need to actually debate the issue this time in the full light of day, instead of the weak abdication of power they showed when authorizing the war in Iraq.

Pentagon: White House Seeks $623 Billion In FY 2008 Defense Budget February 5, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Military News, US News, White House.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The White House on Monday submitted $623 billion in requests for fiscal year 2008, along with a request for more war funding in the current fiscal year, according to Defense Department documents.

The 2008 defense request includes $481.4 billion in the base budget, plus $141.7 billion in extra funds related to the global war on terrorism. The base budget is about 11% above the enacted 2007 budget, or 8.6% more when adjusted for inflation, according to Pentagon projections.

Big weapons programs like Lockheed Martin Corp.’s (LMT) Joint Strike Fighter and Boeing Co.’s (BA) Future Combat Systems upgrade for the Army get big chunks of the 2008 request. But the military services each expect lots of unpaid bills and will campaign heavily for more money, while trying to maintain the appearance of Defense Department-wide cooperation.

Wartime spending has helped the big defense contractors post healthy fourth-quarter earnings with strong prospects for 2007. The new budget suggests the defense industry hasn’t yet peaked, analysts said.

“There’s no sign of a flagging in demand for military goods or services,” said Lexington Institute defense analyst Loren Thompson. “I continue to believe that we’re at a top, but you can’t find that in these numbers.”

Most big weapons programs saw their requested funding increase over 2007 levels. But the 2008 request includes a $500 million cut to missile defense programs.

Some weapons program requests in the new budget include:

– $27 billion for various aircraft programs, including $6.1 billion for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, $4.6 billion for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and $2.6 billion for the V-22 Osprey, made by Boeing Co. and Textron Inc.’s (TXT) Bell Helicopter unit.

– $3.7 billion for the Army’s Future Combat Systems

– $6.0 billion for satellite systems and other space programs

– $8.9 billion for missile defense programs

– $14.4 billion for shipbuilding programs, including $3 billion for the next generation DDG-1000 destroyer made by Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) and General Dynamics Corp. (GD)

-By Rebecca Christie, Dow Jones Newswires

Pentagon To Try Again With Non-Nuclear Ballistic Missile Plan February 5, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Military News, US News.
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By Rebecca Christie

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The Pentagon plans to resurrect its quest for a long-range missile that can quickly attack a target on the other side of the world, without using a nuclear warhead, according to Defense Department officials.

The new plan will come up in the next round of budget hearings, which start this week. By changing their approach, defense officials hopes to win over skeptical lawmakers.

Congress nixed past plans to convert submarine-launched Trident missiles into conventional weapons, in part because of fears that they might be misidentified and accidentally start a nuclear war. Last year, lawmakers approved only a fraction of the White House’s funding request, primarily to fund studies.

The Defense Department now seeks to accommodate that concern, said the Pentagon’s Lisa Marie Cheney, deputy assistant secretary for legislative affairs. This new approach will take longer and cost more than adapting an existing weapon, Cheney said. But she said the Defense Department is willing to search for a new weapon without ties to the Cold War.

“We need to look at something that is based on a commercial foundation that doesn’t have a nuclear platform as its basis, that will provide the ability that we and the war fighters are looking for,” Cheney said last week at a Precision Strike Association conference outside Washington.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other senior officials will include this proposal in upcoming discussions with Congress, amid a series of budget-related hearings, Cheney told reporters. She said lawmakers understand the need for this kind of weapon, but want an alternative to the previous proposal.

It will probably take about 10 years to develop the new weapon, Cheney said. Still, she said, the Defense Department hasn’t wavered in its support for some type of long-range, non-nuclear missile for “prompt global strike.”

Analysts said industry already is working on possible options. For example, Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) has offered a ballistic missile that doesn’t look like a Trident missile but could also be launched from a submarine, said Loren Thompson, a defense consultant at the Lexington Institute think tank.

Last year’s plan was known as the conventional Trident modification, or CTM plan. It called for converting some, but not all, of the Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)-made Trident missiles carried on Ohio-class submarines. The Defense Department had estimated the conversions would cost about $503 million, according to documents on the Defense Department Web site.
-By Rebecca Christie, Dow Jones Newswires

Iraqi Security Operation To Start Soon – Iraqi, US Military February 5, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Military News, US News, World News.
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BAGHDAD (AP)–The general who will lead Iraqi forces in the coming security crackdown in Baghdad took charge Monday and a senior U.S. military official said the much-vaunted joint operation with U.S. forces to curb sectarian bloodshed would start “very soon thereafter.”

With the major security push in Baghdad believed to be just days, perhaps hours away, the U.S. military confirmed that Lt. Gen. Abboud Gambar, whose choice to lead the operation was reported by The Associated Press nearly a month ago, would lead the operation in Baghdad.

He was named to the top position under pressure from the U.S. military, which rejected Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s first choice – Lt. Gen. Mohan al-Freiji.

Gambar will have two Iraqi deputies, one on each side of the Tigris River that splits Baghdad north to south. The city was to be divided into nine districts, and there were to be as many as 600 U.S. forces in each district to back up Iraqi troops who will take the lead in the security drive. It will be the third attempt to restore calm since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took office nearly nine months ago.

The coming security drive, for which U.S. President George W. Bush has dispatched 21,500 additional troops, was seen as a last-chance effort to quell the sectarian violence ravaging the capital and surrounding regions.

Sunday, an Interior Ministry official said about 1,000 Iraqis – including civilians, security forces and gunmen – had been killed in the last week alone.

US General Takes Over Command Of NATO Troops In Afghanistan February 4, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Military News, US News.
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KABUL (AP)–U.S. Gen. Dan McNeil took over command of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan in a ceremony on Sunday.

McNeil replaced U.K. Gen. David Richards at the helm of the 35,500 strong force at the time when the Western alliance braces for a renewed fight with the resurgent Taliban militants.

During his nine months as commander of NATO’s International Stabilization and Assistance Force, Richards oversaw the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

About 4,000 people died in insurgency-related violence in 2006, according to an Associated Press count based on numbers from U.S., NATO and Afghan officials.