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April 4, 2011
Oh yeah, almost forgot to tell you - that Libya thing? It's really about Iran.By Greyhawk
(Note: There's a difference between marketing campaigns and military campaigns - this post is about the former.)
The Obama team holds no illusions about Colonel Qaddafi's long-term importance. Libya is a sideshow. Containing Iran's power remains their central goal in the Middle East. Every decision -- from Libya to Yemen to Bahrain to Syria -- is being examined under the prism of how it will affect what was, until mid-January, the dominating calculus in the Obama administration's regional strategy: how to slow Iran's nuclear progress, and speed the arrival of opportunities for a successful uprising there.
Who says? The New York Times - who've got Obama's National Security Adviser on the record. Iran, they report in the now it can be told manner that seems to follow so many critiques of the Libya op, was a consideration all along - part of the top-secret, top-level ("as President Obama heard the arguments of his security advisers about the pros and cons of using military force in Libya, the conversation soon veered into the impact in a far more strategically vital place: Iran.") situation room discussions in mid-March.
At that point the US hadn't yet committed to military action, but earlier in the month President Obama had declared "Muammar Gaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead and he must leave." (More on that here.)
Back to the latest report:
The mullahs in Tehran, noted Thomas E. Donilon, the national security adviser, were watching Mr. Obama's every move in the Arab world. They would interpret a failure to back up his declaration that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi had "lost the legitimacy to lead" as a sign of weakness -- and perhaps as a signal that Mr. Obama was equally unwilling to back up his vow never to allow Iran to gain the ability to build a nuclear weapon.
Note that's not a "we have to keep bombing because we started bombing" argument - at the time we hadn't started yet. He's declaring that (other reasons aside) "we had to start bombing because Obama talked tough."
Even before the US invasion of Iraq many in the United States (and elsewhere) argued (with abundant supporting evidence) that Iran is the top threat to global/regional/US security, and that Iran's treatment of dissidents is unequaled anywhere in scope and brutality. "We're aware of that" seems to be long-standing official US response. In that regards, this report can be seen as another restatement of that response.
But there's a more generic message being sent here, too - as "reply all" (foreign and domestic) rather than just to the specifically stated target. It's the if we stop now we look weak argument, one that appeals to those who recognize it as an obvious statement of reality. But that will likely upset others (mostly domestic) who are ever concerned with America's position as a global power, and what they perceive as signs of expansive designs.
No problem: the Obama administration has long summed up its marketing of national security/foreign policy with this statement: "the messages directed at some may undercut the messages sent to others." And the New York Times report doesn't fail in that regard. They've got a quote from Donilon's deputy downplaying his boss's statement.
"It shouldn't be overstated that this was the deciding factor, or even a principal factor" in the decision to intervene in Libya, Benjamin J. Rhodes, a senior aide who joined in the meeting, said last week.
It's worth remembering that Libyans get those messages, too. "Libya is a sideshow" is a harsh one. As a follow-up to "it's a time-limited, scope limited military action" it's hardly inspiring, and might need undercutting soon.
Posted by Greyhawk / April 4, 2011 11:47 AM | Permalink
Ever wonder what the fourth week of a planned one week war looks like? Wonder no more - it looks like this:Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other E... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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