Jeff Huber's blog

Gaza's Eyes to Cry With

 "Leave them nothing but their eyes to cry with."

-- Attributed to a Union colonel of the Civil War serving as an adviser to the Prussian General Staff during the Franco-Prussian War.

The United Nations has called for an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza strip. Pope Benedict XVI has also called for a ceasefire, and senior Vatican official Cardinal Renato Martino describes Gaza as "a big concentration camp."

The Senate has passed a resolution endorsing Israel's invasion of Gaza and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) says the U.S. "must continue to stand strongly with its friend and democratic ally."

There you have the difference between the U.N., the Catholic Church and the U.S. Congress; the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) doesn't own the U.N. or the Catholic Church.

The Unchosen People

Thanks to investigative journalist Gareth Porter we know that in January 2006, when Hamas won a 56 percent majority in the Palestinian parliamentary election, the Bush administration initiated actions to overturn the election results. It coerced the UN, the European Union and Russia into demanding that Hamas "disarm" before a political solution could be reached between Palestine and Israel.

This is a signal characteristic of administration's behavior in foreign affairs: require the target to cede its bargaining chips as a precondition of negotiations. In the case of Iran, the "offer they must refuse" is the demand that they give up their UN guaranteed "inalienable right" to peaceful nuclear development. The administration gave Hamas an ultimatum to bare its throat to an armed and U.S. backed Israel, a move that would have been suicidal. Given the overwhelming preponderance of the Israelis' actions and rhetoric over the past three years, I see no way to avoid the conclusion that they consider genocide of a defenseless adversary to be a perfectly legitimate course of action.

And it looks like they can get away with it for at least as long as George W. Bush is in office.

Children of a Lesser Allah

I don't know if there's a good guy in the Gaza Strip travesty; if there is one, it sure isn't young Mr. Bush, or Lord Cheney, or Keystone Kondi Rice, or, lamentably, Barack Obama, and it sure as h-e-double hockey sticks isn't Israel.

Speaking of perdition, somebody needs to throw another handful of clean coal in the brazier under Yasser Arafat, and hopefully someone has confirmed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's reservation for the spot next to Arafat's. Bush and Kondi and Lord Cheney and Bad Will Ambassador John Bolton must be looking forward to occupying adjoining rooms with a view of the inferno in the LBJ Hilton, because they appear bent on squeezing in as much last minute evil as they can before a house drops on them.

Never tired of watching its own horror show, the Bush team is reprising the scenario it ran in Lebanon: Cheney goads Bush into giving tacit approval for Israel to launch a military offensive against a group of sand colored people who, in terms of relative firepower, amount to an ant colony. Kondi does her hair up like a fright wig and drags out the ceasefire process until Israel a) has killed all the sand colored people it wants to kill or b) starts getting its tohkes kicked by the sand colored people and wants mommy to make them stop it.

Revenge of the Surge

We got through Christmas without having NORAD accidently blow Santa out of the sky, but don't let your guard down yet. While visions of sugarplums danced in our heads, the Pentagon flew another escalation strategy under the radar. On the eve of Christmas Eve, Dexter Filkins of the New York Times reported "Taking a page from the successful experiment in Iraq, American commanders and Afghan leaders are preparing to arm local militias to help in the fight against a resurgent Taliban."

Merry Christmas, fellow citizens. Odds are now almost certain that your country will be in a state of war throughout your lifetimes, and possibly throughout your children's lifetimes as well.

The Tailor of Mumbai

My December 10 article "Our Man in Bananastan" discussed how the hasty conclusion that Pakistani militants were behind the terror attack in India sounded like the bogus intelligence described in satiric espionage novels by Graham Greene and John le Carre. The New York Times, following the journalistic standard it established when it helped Dick Cheney sell the Iraq invasion, reported the "facts" of the Mumbai affair as deduced from double secret hearsay.

Iran Ate My Caliphate

by Jeff Huber


Last week, at a meeting of his country's ruling party, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak accused Iran of "trying to devour the Arab states." Don't worry, Hosni. Iran won't eat you. It can't. It can't sit on you either. It's too far away.

What led Mubarak to say such a mean thing about Iran? Well, it seems that a bunch of Iranian students shouted a bunch of mean things at the Egyptian embassy in Tehran, including their apparently genuine wish that someone would hang Mubarak. The Iranian students shouted mean things about Mubarak because Egypt wouldn't let the Iranian Red Crescent sneak around Israel's blockade of the Gaza strip and deliver food and supplies to Palestinians, who have been reduced to eating grass.

So Iran wasn't trying to eat Arabs; it was trying to feed them. Gee, how did Mubarak get that story all backwards?

Our Man in Bananastan

by Jeff Huber

Truth is truly stranger than fiction. Graham Greene's 1958 spy novel Our Man in Havana told a tragicomic tale of false intelligence crafted to suit the needs of a political agenda. John le Carre's 1996 The Tailor of Panama repeated the theme.

Ahmed Chalabi was Dick Cheney's real life man of the hour when it came time to shake and bake the intelligence on Iraq, and the Dark Lord and his neocon chamberlains are still trying to fabricate a casus belli for Iran. The Persian Ploy may be running up against a term limit, but there's all the time in the world left to slip on the Bananastan peel. Heck, western superpowers have been flinging themselves down that slope for centuries.

At this point in the American experiment, U.S. intelligence is to intelligence what Kenny G is to jazz. After nearly a decade of getting gang-buggered over the kitchen table by the minions of the Office of the Vice President, our spy agencies have no more credibility than our sacked and pillaged mainstream press. In fact, the lines between intelligence and news and popular entertainment have virtually vanished. As evidence of this, witness Exhibit A: "Plans of Attack," by intelligence analyst, counterterrorism expert, news commentator and novelist Richard A. Clarke.

Queer Eye for the G.I.

by Jeff Huber

William S. Lind, co-creator of the Fourth Generation Warfare concept and director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism, says a lot of smart things about national security, but he doesn't say any of them about the issue of gays and women in the military. My admittedly limited experience of the gay lifestyle hasn't endeared me to it: my older male dog humps my younger male dog, my younger male dog humps my leg, and I pay all the bills; an arrangement, come to think of it, not so different from my experience of marriage. So I don't, so to speak, have a dog in the fight over whether gays or women should be "allowed" to serve in the military, but Lind makes such a cock and bull argument against it I feel obliged to apologize on behalf of the entire heterosexual male community.

In a pair of recent opinion pieces, Lind asserts that we shouldn't let women and gays in the armed services because if we do, "men who want to prove they are real men will not join."

Lind's relative manliness doesn't necessarily add to or subtract from his opinion's validity, but unnamed sources who knew him when assure me that the closest he ever came to wearing a uniform was dressing his G.I. Joe doll in one.

Shiver Me Neocons

by Jeff Huber

It was only a matter of time before Long Bill Kristol and his scurvy dogs of war used piracy as an excuse to goad young Mr. Bush into invading one last country before the door hits him. In the latest gurgitation of the Weekly Standard, Bill suggests that the best thing young Mr. Bush can do in his final days as commander in chief is send the Marines into Somalia to deep six those pesky buccaneers. Now: if we can't identify and capture pirates while they're plundering ships on the bounding main, I'd like to know how the yo-ho-ho Bill thinks the Marines can tell the pirates from the rest of the poor starving Somalis once they go ashore.

Great White Junta

by Jeff Huber

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mike Mullen appears to be the most powerful man in the world. Americans elected a president who pledged to get U.S. troops out of Iraq in 16 months. Iraq's parliament, by a substantial majority, has ratified a security agreement that requires all American troops to be out of the country by the end of 2011, a deadline specifically "not governed by circumstances on the ground."

One might think the book is closed on the matter of U.S. occupation of Iraq, but no. Admiral Mullen says it's "theoretically possible" to change the agreement. "Three years is a long time," he says, and we will "continue to have discussions with them [the Iraqis] over time as conditions continue to evolve." In July, Mullen said that a deadline for a U.S. withdrawal would be "dangerous." Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has been asked to hang around for a year or so into the Obama regime, objected to the 16 month plan during the presidential campaign, and incoming National Security Adviser James L. Jones, a retired Marine four-star, said in 2007 that a deadline for our withdrawal from Iraq would be "against our national interest."

What do they call it again, when a country is run by its military?

Hillary, Rahm and Other Wild Turkeys

by Jeff Huber

This year I'm thankful Dick Cheney and the Bush administration haven't destroyed the whole world. Yet. I suspect young Mr. Bush has lost his enthusiasm for the project, but I'm concerned that the Dark Lord's little helpers will keep the fuse burning right up to the closing bell. We dodged an October surprise, but plenty can still happen between now and January 20. NORAD and the FAA better keep close tabs on Santa's sleigh come Christmas Eve, that's all I can say. We don't need no stinking 12/24.

I'm thankful John McCain didn't win the presidential election. You hear some of the TV satire guys crying about what great material they'll miss out on without Gramps and Bering Strait Barbie in the White House, but I'm not complaining on that score. Joe Biden as vice president? Come on, he'll be better than having Chico Marx running around the West Wing (Getta you tootsie frootsie money quotes).

And Hillary as Secretary of State?


Shock and Awe and Flying Submarines

by Jeff Huber

Last spring my dog Shady and I were walking across the bridge over Pleasure House Creek when I heard a disturbance in the water. I looked down and saw a Great Blue Heron breaking the water's surface. The heron flicked the water from its wings, flapped them, and went flying down the creek about two feet above the surface.

Impressive, I thought. Boy, wouldn't the weapons procurement nimrods at the Pentagon like to get their mitts on technology that could do that?

Thus it was that I reacted with both amusement and horror to an email notice I received in October from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) offering federal grant money for "a feasibility study and experiments to prove out the possibility of making an aircraft that can maneuver underwater."

In other words, DARPA wants to pay someone to come up with a phony baloney argument that says it's possible to make a flying submarine.

Polish Missile Joke

by Jeff Huber

This Polish missile defense system walks into a bar one afternoon and orders six shots of vodka and a beer. The bartender says, "How can you afford to get drunk in the middle of a business day?" and the Polish missile defense system says, "I don't work."

And lo it has come to pass that as the End of Bush Days draws near, Dick Cheney and the neocons are taking their last shot at instigating Cold War II by deploying a ballistic missile defense system that doesn't work to defend against ballistic missiles that don't work either.

President-elect Barack Obama doesn't seem sure whether he approves or not.

President Elect Perplexes Pack of Puckered Persians

by Jeff Huber

"Obama from the Bullpen" discussed how the president-elect's edict that the U.S. will not keep permanent bases in Iraq helped avert Cold War II, but he has far to go to fix all of the foreign relations fiascos he's about to inherit. "Puckered Persians" addresses how Obama needs to handle the Iran piece of the puzzle.

The neocons may have lost the election but they still own the narrative. For nearly a decade they've repeated their message of messianic fear and loathing through Rupert Murdoch's Big Brother Broadcast and the compliant mainstream media over and over and over and over until that's what everybody says so it must be true.

One has to wonder, then, how much of the neocon line on Iran Barack Obama had swallowed when he said at his first post election press conference that, "Iran's development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening."

Our intelligence services say that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in fall of 2003. I'm not convinced they ever had one at all, exactly. The Russians didn't start building Iran's first nuclear reactor until fall of 2002. It's hard to say how much of a nuclear weapons program they could have developed in a year starting from scratch, but it couldn't have amounted to the program my dogs have going on in the back yard.

Obama from the Bullpen

by Jeff Huber

Navy skippers immemorial wrote "He hit the deck running" on their new junior officers' fitness reports until the phrase became, well, ship-worn. You mean that the officer just checked aboard, seems eager, if a bit much so, has done a nice thing or two, but it's not time to recommend him either for your job or for immediate transfer to civilian command. In other words, it's an expression that sounds impressive but doesn't really mean anything, something common to at least 95 percent of Navy writing.

But the expression appears to mean something in the case of Barack Obama, whose orders just showed up on the message board, as we say in the NAV, and who doesn’t even check aboard for two more months. In the past week he's made three significant interrelated foreign policy moves that involve Iraq, Iran and Russia that have potential to look good, go bad or turn ugly, depending on how he follows up on them.