FADED CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O THOUGHT ABOUT RELEASING A BOOK OF SELFIES UNTIL HE LEARNED KIM KARDASHIAN WAS ALREADY DOING THAT.
REACHED FOR COMMENT, BARRY O TOLD THESE REPORTERS, "ECO-SCHMECO. IF I GAVE A DAMN ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT I'D STOP ALL THE PREGNANCIES. YOU KNOW HOW MANY LANDFILLS HAVE DIAPERS IN THEM? AND THESE DIAPERS ARE FILLED WITH STINKY POOS. STINKY POOS! BABIES ARE THE BIGGEST POLLUTERS IN THE WORLD. STINKY BABIES AND THEIR STINKY POOS."
This morning, the Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony from three retired military officials: Gen James Mattis, Gen John Keane and Adm William Fallon or, as Senator Kelly Ayotte described them, "three of America's most distinguished military leaders."
Ayotte presides over the hearing as Acting Chair since John McCain was not present. He's out of the country and we'll note why later but while he had an excuse for missing the hearing, others really didn't.
Unlike Senator Lindsay Graham, I'm referring to members of the Committee. We'll note his criticism in a minute but it would have been nice if all members in the country could have been present. There are twenty-five members on the Committee. Seven are women. That's a big deal. The Senate Judiciary Committee, by contrast, has only two women on it.
The Armed Services has seven women and three things on that.
First, show up for the hearings. You wanted on the Committee, show up.
At a time when even Brookings can decry the low number of women invited to participate in Middle East discussions, female senators on the Armed Services Committee should consider themselves obligated to participate in hearings on the Middle East.
Second, Senator Kelly Ayotte's noted here but we're not excerpting. That's not that she did anything wrong but most of her time was wasted by a witness giving an ahistorical view of the Cold War. I don't include known lies. People can have different opinions and I'm fine with that and fine with including different opinions or even different or new facts or factoids. But when you lie about history and I know it's a lie, I'm not including it. That witness took up Ayotte's entire questioning time in the first round with his rewriting. Senator Joni Ernst did attend -- one of the few women to show up. She's new and I would've graded anything on a curve because she is new. The first female Iraq War veteran to serve in the Senate, I expected Ernst would reflect on the war. I expected her view to be different than mine and I thought we'd include it. We're not noting her because she didn't talk about Iraq. She didn't ask about Iraq.
This isn't the "Afghanistan snapshot." This isn't the "Iran snapshot." This isn't the "sequestration snapshot." If Iraq's discussed, that's our focus.
One female senator did show up and did ask about Iraq.
Senator Mazie Hirono: Gen Keane, you described life in Mosul where schools are set up just to radicalize the population, where every day life has changed. And one wonders how long ISIL can so-called 'govern' in this way? So you're indicating that we need to be doing -- we, in the United States, should have people on the ground -- not boots on the ground -- when the people in Iraq finally get to the point where they want to fight ISIL. Now the question becomes then, when is that time? And would you say that is perhaps a major role for our intelligence community? To inform us as to when that critical point is that we need to be there to help the people fight back? And I'd also like to ask that question of Gen Keane because Gen Keane you noted the importance of our intelligence community in establishing priorities.
Gen John Keane: Yeah the -- Listen, that's a very tough question, Senator. The only thing I can -- in helping you with that -- is just look back a bit. We had an insurgency begin in Iraq in the spring and summer of 2003 -- led by Saddam Hussein and his people -- and the al Qaeda fell in on that very quickly. And the in 2006, some two-and-a-half, three years later, Sunni tribes began -- who were aligned with them -- began to push back -- and much of it was literally driven by women, frankly. Because the women were putting pressure on the tribal leaders that they did not want their children and their grandchildren to live like this for generations to come with 7th century Talibanism, under the foot of what al Qaeda was doing, controlling every aspect of their life -- from diet to costume behavior, Sharia law, etc. That frustration is already there. I do believe that given the fact that -- particularly in Anbar Province -- that this has existed before, the accelerate will be faster and not take three years. I'm going to make an assumption that our intelligence community, with the use of informants and others are-are monitoring what is taking place and we have some sense of what the conditions are and more importantly what the attitude and behavior of the people are themselves. But let's also be honest that there's just so much those people in Mosul will be able to do against a well armed and well equipped force as ISIS is -- in Mosul and in its suburbs. To eject them out of there will take a conventional military force to do that -- supported by air power and some pretty good intelligence on where people are. The attitude and belief of the people will be a factor. But I don't believe in and of itself it will be decisive. What will be decisive is the use of military force to defeat the military organization that is there.
Senator Mazie Hirono: And the conventional military force should be the Iraqi military itself? With --
Gen John Keane: Yes.
Senator Mazie Hirono: -- possible air support --
Gen John Keane: Yes.
Senator Mazie Hirono: -- from us and our allies.
Gen John Keane: Well it's the Peshmerga, as you know, who is the militia from Kurdistan who have the will to fight and the skill. They don't have all the weapons they need. Iraqi army? And by the way the Iraqi army is probably in better shape based on some recent reports I just got this weekend from people who returned [Kimberly and Fred Kagan] and many of the military reports are suggesting -- But secondly, and thirdly, would be the Sunni tribes. Now the Shi'ite milita are part of this and they have strengthened the Iraqi military very considerably. The best fighters in the army are Iranian-backed Shia militia
Third thing regarding the women on the Committee? Ava's going to grab that at Trina's site tonight (it's a joke we polished in the hearing). Kat's going to grab a topic at her site and Wally's planning to grab an exchange that took place during Senator Thom Tillis' round of questioning (he'll be posting at Rebecca's site).
Of all the idiotic moments in the history -- and there were a good many -- Senator Joe Manchin provided the worst as he used his time to advocate and argue for re-instating the draft -- a position that even the three generals were reluctant to embrace. Manchin kept insisting the US forces would still be in Vietnam today if there had not been a draft during the Vietnam era. He also, when he realized no one was supporting his call for a return of the draft, began proposing an enlisted force with "some" element of a draft.
Is Manchin insane?
That was the Vietnam era.
You had people drafted and you had them enlist.
I'm confused that Manchin's confused by this.
He graduated high school in 1965, he lived in this era.
Of course, he didn't serve.
The Chicken Hawk who now wants to bring back the draft didn't serve in Vietnam.
He took a football scholarship to college.
Had a -- we're sure -- 'brutal' injury on the football field -- why, he's practically a P.O.W.!
It takes a lot of nerve to be a sitting US Senator trying to bring back the draft, pointing to the Vietnam era, and failing to note that your own ass sat that war out.
And via war babies, right? Avoiding the draft by rushing into marriage and popping out war babies? Dick Cheney did the same thing. We've called him out for it as well.
When Manchin starts trying to bring back the draft, how he avoided it becomes news worthy.
And Senator Jeanne Shaheen should be happy about that. It allows us to ignore her show up for the hearing over two hours after it started and the prepared question she brought with her.
Senator Graham had criticism, as I noted earlier.
Senator Lindsey Graham: I just regret, to our media friends that are here, thank you for coming. Maybe if we had Tom Brady, we'd fill up the room. But that's the world in which we live in. We're talking about consequential things and got [only] a couple of reporters here.
Where was the media?
Where was CodePink? Oh, right, if the media's not there, CodeStink's not there.
But this was an important hearing. It was noted, by Gen John Keane, that Iraq required "a political and military alliance." He elaborated further:
Gen John Keane: There is no other way I believe that you can cope with this scale of problem without bringing the countries involved together whether they're in the region or have interests outside of the region as many do because of the export of terrorism to their countries and develop a strategy to deal with it. This isn't about the United States driving a strategy. This is about the countries together because much of what has to be done in the region where the radical Islamists are growing has to do with those countries themselves, has to do with the conditions that exist in those countries. This issues simply are -- and what the Arab Spring was about if you recall, it was about seeking political reforms, social justice and economic opportunity. Nobody was demonstrating in the streets for radical Islam. But the radical Islamists saw the Arab Spring as an opportunity and it became an accelerate for them because they saw political and social upheaval and they could take advantage of it. So using that as a backdrop -- it drives you -- those issues are still there -- political reform, social injustice and lack of economic opportunity.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"