Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

Waiting...

27 March 2009

Many of us are waiting -- not so patiently -- for President Obama's announcement of the new strategy on AfPak.  No matter which road we chose, it will be long and filled with liquid, political mirages.

Carlotta Gall has emerged as a premier voice on AfPak.  I've noticed over time that she seems to be ahead of the curve on reporting, and so when her name appears, my eyes focus on her words.  It remains popular to bash the New York Times, but when it comes to war reporting they are tough to match.  Alternative media sources seem to be mostly avoiding serious firsthand Afghanistan reporting.  Have any non-active duty dedicated-bloggers spent a year there yet?  I'm currently reading through the latest of about $600 worth of books on the fight -- waiting quietly in the back of the room, for today --before the rough journey ahead.  Unfortunately it looks like Mexico might fill the off-seasons from AfPak.

Read more: Waiting...

McCaffrey on Mexico - 23 March 2009

26 March 2009

General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey continues to sound cautions and alarms on Mexico.  Clearly he loves the place and doesn't want to see it fall apart.  For their sake or for ours.  I would highly suggest that journalists reach out to McCaffrey through his website.  His latest comments were published on Nationaljournal.com.

Interesting to note that apparently tons of weapons are flowing into Mexico from the United States.  During the Iraq war, weapons were/are coming from Syria and Iran.  Many Americans wanted to attack those countries for aiding the weapons flows, or even just turning a blind eye.  Now with Afghanistan: weapons flood in from Pakistan.  What about our country in regard to Mexico?

Read more: McCaffrey on Mexico - 23 March 2009

Gary Sinise to Continue Long March

25 March 2009

Gary has been supporting troops for more than two decades not just in word, but in a long stream of deeds.  Our troops post his photos on headquarters walls in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I recall during the darkest days of the Iraq war, Gary Sinise and Laura Hillebrand were helping big-hearted American donors to send millions of dollars worth of supplies to Iraqi kids.  During stints between the war, I even flew out to Kansas City just to visit the warehouse of Operation Iraqi Children, and there were pallets upon pallets of those same supplies that I had been seeing soldiers distribute to smiling Iraqi kids.  Americans at home were a big part of relieving the plight of those children, and helping turn the war around, and Gary and Laura were important “go betweens.”

Read more: Gary Sinise to Continue Long March

Small Talk

23 March 2009

Gary Sinise is an incredible American.  We were swapping some emails over the past week and I saw this article about his latest support for our troops:  Commentary: We can't do enough for our veterans.

Gary mentioned to me that he will be heading back to Afghanistan this year (that’s predictable!), and I’ll try to take a quick break from slogging around the battlefields to see Gary while he’s there.  Gary Sinise and Bruce Willis are among the few true movie stars who courageously supported our troops, even when Hollywood insiders were telling me that actors could lose jobs for supporting the troops.  Laura Ingraham, during one of our live interviews, once asked about my Hollywood connections.  Laura caught me by surprise and I denied connections.  By that, I was really saying I don’t hang out in Hollywood, but technically my answer to Laura was incorrect.

Read more: Small Talk

Treatment of Prisoners

20 March 2009

Before I lived in Germany and Poland for about six years, the Army taught me German and some Polish.  And so there were countless conversations with older Germans and Poles, and I heard earfuls of stories.  The older Germans were very respectful toward our "Greatest Generation," but pretty much hated the Russians because of their brutality.  The theme nearly always drifted to the very humane treatment we afforded German prisoners, while the Russians killed them off.  We even had German prisoners working on farms, and after the war, many Germans returned and married American women!  But the Poles didn't like the Germans or the Russians because of the very same reasons.  They had been mistreated, but the Poles have great respect for America because we treated them well.  Americans are extremely welcome in Poland, but that place sure is cold.

Read more: Treatment of Prisoners

Soldiers and Sinise

20 March 2009

A soldier emailed me with a surprise.  I did not know that Gary Sinise was involved with a film about soldiers, but you know if Gary is involved, the movie will be top-quality and accurate.

Read more: Soldiers and Sinise

Our Must-Win War

20 March 2009

By now, President Barack Obama must be acutely aware of the spiraling AfPak situation.  Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman have penned a very smart piece about the tough road ahead.  There is a subtly to this piece insofar is it might indicate the Obama Administration is quietly bucking what is likely a very expensive and exhausting plan from the Pentagon.  Active duty Generals cannot make such public declarations as seen coming from Senators McCain and Lieberman, but military leadership can get its message out in other ways.

Read more: Our Must-Win War

The Myth of Kurdistan

Published: 18 March 2009

The Myth of Kurdistan
Iraq's northern enclave used to be called a model for the rest of the country. Not anymore, say Kurds.

Lennox Samuels
NEWSWEEK
March 23, 2009

Until the old man is out of the way, everyone else who hungers for power in Iraqi Kurdistan is on hold. It could be a long wait. Despite his chronic bad knee and a Mayo Clinic heart operation last August, 75-year-old Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, is a survivor. At present, he and his longtime rival, Massoud Barzani (together with their families and their respective political machines), still control the largest part of what's worth controlling in the three northern Iraqi provinces that make up the autonomous region. Government ranks are filled with their relatives. Barzani himself is president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, while his nephew Nechirvan is its prime minister and his son Masrour is in charge of intelligence. Talabani's son Qubad is the Kurds' man in Washington, while a nephew heads counterintelligence. Backers once touted Kurdistan as the model for a democratic Iraq—perhaps even for a total makeover of the Middle East. But if anything, the place seems more and more like a stagnant, feudal principality.


Water Torture

16 March 2009
 
There has been much discussion recently about what constitutes torture.  Between research/travel in preparation for a return to Afghanistan and Iraq, I have been working on a couple of dispatches regarding torture.  Meanwhile, several U.S. military officers -- all combat veterans -- have weighed in privately.  All are staunchly opposed to torture.  At least my opposition to torture is in good company with these veterans.  We can beat the terrorists without it, and in fact can do far better without using barbaric methods.  We get huge amounts of information from normal people when they realize we are morally superior to the terrorists.  High ground is always tough to keep, and moral high ground is particularly tough to hold.  But we can do it and will win battles because of that high ground.

Read more: Water Torture

Afghan Army

12 March 2009

There is dispute whether the testimony to the British House of Commons regarding the Afghan National Army is correct.

Part of that testimony was published on my site yesterday.

Colonel Bill Hix emailed to me from Afghanistan with an on-the-ground view.  It is important to note that Colonel Hix is a veteran of Iraq, with much experience in the tough parts of Afghanistan.  I was out with his soldiers in late 2008.  Colonel Hix is highly respected among combat soldiers who don't hand out respect easily.  His views on Afghanistan are highly-informed, cautious and realistic, but definitely more optimistic than are mine.  I greatly respect his highly informed opinion and so it's important to make sure Colonel Hix's counterpoints get wide distribution.  Please link to this dispatch.  (Note to journalists seeking truth on Afghanistan: Colonel Hix is at KAF and is an important source regarding conditions in southern Afghanistan.)

Read more: Afghan Army

David Rohde Still Missing

11 March 2009

Few people realize that New York Times journalist David Rohde was kidnapped in Afghanistan back in November.  There were a few scattered stories early on, but big reporting apparently has been squashed.  In December, during a trip with Secretary Gates, I asked a New York Times reporter if she knew the status of the situation.  The story had been kept so quiet that she didn’t actually know the kidnapping had occurred.  The information came to me from several sources some weeks after the kidnapping in Afghanistan.  I sat on the information, but there are a growing number of snippets on the web, and it can safely be said that the word is out.  One extremely well placed Pentagon source told me in December that Rohde is believed to have been moved to Pakistan.


The Pathetic Afghan Army & Will Obama Fumble Iraq?

The Pathetic Afghan Army
&
Will Obama Fumble Iraq?

11 March 2009

The disconnect between reporting and reality on Iraq was dramatic during 2005.  Media stories about the incompetence and hopelessness of the Iraqi army and police were like the soup of the day, every day.  Yet month by month, before my eyes, Iraqi security forces were improving.  Reporting this truth earned the label of “stooge,” because the soup of the day was Failure.  Millions of Americans and Europeans apparently wanted Iraqis to suffer because those same Americans and Europeans seemed to hate George Bush.

Read more: The Pathetic Afghan Army & Will Obama Fumble Iraq?

Victory in Iraq - Next Stop, Afghanistan

10 March 2009

Please read my latest article by picking up a copy of Townhall Magazine.  Townhall is offering a free copy of my book "Moment of Truth in Iraq," with new subscriptions to their excellent magazine. Please keep in mind that whenever I publish in a magazine or newspaper, the editors chose the title and blurb.  The words within the articles are mine, however.  (Such as my Wall Street Journal piece last year: "Let's Surge Some More." That was not my title.)

Read more: Victory in Iraq - Next Stop, Afghanistan

Straight Talk

09 March 2009

President Obama talks straight on Afghanistan.  We are not winning.  This bit of truth has been reported clearly on this website since early 2006.  In fact, not only are we not winning, we are losing.  Pakistan is a far bigger and more important problem than Afghanistan.  On the global scale, Afghanistan is tantamount irrelevant so long as we can deny sanctuary to people who will use that land as a base to attack us.

Read more: Straight Talk

Dark Times

06 March 2009

While I work on dispatches regarding torture, it appears that some people are getting what they want; many have asked for proof that torture occurred, and that torture be defined.  These questions are fair and important.  Yet it seems that these questions often are asked with an air of smugness that the questions cannot or will not be answered.  The issue is sharply politicized and so truth will hide under the nearest rock.  My views on torture, partially shaped by battlefield experience, are apolitical.  They are merely pragmatic based on life experience.

Read more: Dark Times

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Recurring and one-time gifts are available through PayPal or Authorize.net.

supp

supp

subscribe

My BitCoin QR Code

This is for use with BitCoin apps:

189

You can now help support the next dispatch with bitcoins:

Donate Bitcoins