FADED CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O'S BUTT WAS YET AGAIN SAVED BY CLOSET CASE JOHN ROBERTS WHOSE WORLD WEARY WIFE SIGHED AND SAID, "OH GET A ROOM!"
This afternoon, a House Armed Services Committee held a hearing.
The Subcommittee Committee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities managed to do something every group holding a hearing longs to do -- establish clearly where the problem lies.
And the hearing did exactly that, the Subcommittee documented the Emerging Threats.
I'm not really sure though that they grasp that they did.
Appearing before the Subcommittee were the New American Foundation's Brian Fishman, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Michael Eisenstadt, RAND Corporation's Linda Robinson and the American Enterprise Institute's Frederick Kagan.
All four offered testimony and -- to one degree or another -- waived the Fifth Amendment.
It was a long hearing but, more importantly, it was a soul draining hearing.While madmen sit up building bombsAnd making laws and barsThey're gonna slam free choice behind us
Last night I dreamed I saw the planet flickerGreat forests fell like buffaloEverything got sickerAnd to the bitter end Big business bickered And they call for the three great stimulantsOf the exhausted onesArtifice, brutality and innocenceArtifice and innocence
-- "Three Great Stimulants," written by Joni Mitchell
, first appears on her Dog Eat Dog
And when Robinson and Kagan especially competed to be 'smartest in the room,' you longed for them to stop cooperating with the Subcommittee and instead reply, "I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me."
We often mock Fred Kagan here as being the "arm candy" of Kimberly Kagan.
We do that for two reasons. One, when we started the joke, it was the rare press piece on Kimberly that couldn't work in 'she married to Frederick Kagan!' while the pieces on him could sail right by without ever noting her. (That's sexism, for those of you on autopilot.) Second, he's seen -- by some -- as so intelligent. But he's not. Kimberly Kagan is not someone I agree with very often -- we're on opposite sides of the political fence -- but she generally speaks -- I'm not talking soundbytes, I'm talking testimony, speeches, papers -- in a manner that acknowledges humanity. For that reason alone, she's the smarter of the pair.
When Fred Kagan speaks, we're all just ants in his ant farm that he seems ready to toss in the trash, so bored has he become with humanity and living.
After nearly two hours, the hearing was finally drawing to a close when Kagan, baited by , had to show just how ugly he can be.
Yes, Kagan insisted, the US government did have a problem with the current plan or 'plan' for combating the Islamic State in Iraq.
Too much effort was being made to not kill civilians.
Think I misheard?
Here's the exchange with US House Rep Doug Lamborn. Let's listen in with horror.US House Rep: Doug Lamborn: Thank you all for being here and I'd like to ask you about our targeting of ISIS' assets. The New York Times reported on May 26th that "American officials say they are not striking significant and obvious Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians. But many Iraqi commanders and some American officers say that exercising such prudence with airstrikes is a major reason ISIS has been able to seize vast territory in recent months in Iraq and Syria." Dr. Kagan, would you agree with that assessment? And-and is it possible to step up aistrikes while still, uh, to the degree possible, uh, preserving civilians lives?
Frederick Kagan: Uh, I think that there is a trade off between deciding that you're going to have a more effective air campaign and accepting a higher risk of civilian casualties. I think if your standard for civilian casualties is low, you're probably going to have a very hard time increasing, uh, the intensity of the air campaign -- especially as long as you're not prepared to put forward air controllers on the ground, uh, which would be something that would mitigate that. But I think that we have too high of a standard, uh, for -- from the standard of collateral damage for civilian casualties. I think that, uh, the truth is this is a war and, uhm, we always try to minimize, uh, collateral damage and civilian casualty but, uhm, a standard of effectively zero has done enormous harm to our ability to prosecute this war with the tools that we have at our disposal.
To make a few things clear . . .
When Kagan made his puzzling remarks to US House Rep Trent Franks that the US government had poor relations with the Sunnis in Iraq because of the US government's support for the Kurds in Iraq, I disagreed. (Like Franks, who quickly changed the subject, I couldn't grasp what Kagan was attempting to say or the basis for that bizarre call.) But as strongly as I disagreed, I could write it off as just disagreeing.
Second, Kagan is not just right wing, he's a neocon. Part of one of the biggest neocon families (his brother Robert Kagan, his sister-in-law the dreadful Victoria Nuland, his father is Donald Kagan, etc.). But his remarks are not a neocon attitude -- or not solely a neocon attitude.
The allegedly left Foreign Policy In Focus was arguing the same points Kagan was -- we called them out in the June 4th snapshot
as well as in "Iraq: Failed follow ups and whining that bombs aren't being dropped quick enough
" -- a point worth remembering for those of us on the left who might want to write Kagan's remarks off as something 'only the right could say.'
Third, the New York Times article was written by the Washington-based Eric Schmitt
so we never took it or Schmitty to seriously.
"Many Iraqi commanders"?
Did you phone 'em, Schmitty?
Or did you maybe just put a finger on each temple and 'psychically' connect with them?
(I'm sure many Shi'ite commanders in the Iraqi military feel there's too much restraint when it comes to bombing Sunni areas. We've seen, in Tikrit most recently, what Shi'ite forces can do in the name of 'liberation' to Sunnis and Sunni homes. I'm just as sure that Schmitty himself did not speak to "many Iraqi commanders" -- though he did feel the need to 'give voice to them' -- or maybe just put words in their mouths?)
And for those who might want to insist that Schmitt got the byline but others could have spoken to Iraqi commanders? Ben Hubbard was in Urfa, Turkey, Anne Barnard and Maher Samaan were in Beirut. Only Omar al-Jawoshy was in Iraq (Baghdad). No, I'm not picturing him rushing to and from commander for comments.