Who is “The Military?”

When I read stories like this, I wonder what the hell is going on:

Iraq has agreed to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build a pair of enormous power plants, the Iraqi electricity minister said Tuesday. Word of the project prompted serious concerns among American military officials, who fear that Iranian commercial investments can mask military activities at a time of heightened tension with Iran.

The Iraqi electricity minister, Karim Wahid, said that the Iranian project would be built in Sadr City, a Shiite enclave in Baghdad that is controlled by followers of the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr. He added that Iran had also agreed to provide cheap electricity from its own grid to southern Iraq, and to build a large power plant essentially free of charge in an area between the two southern Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.

The expansion of ties between Iraq and Iran comes as the United States and Iran clash on nuclear issues and about what American officials have repeatedly said is Iranian support for armed groups in Iraq. American officials have charged that Iranians, through the international military wing known as the Quds Force, are particularly active in support of elite elements of the Mahdi Army, a militia largely controlled by Mr. Sadr.

An American military official in Baghdad said that while he had no specific knowledge of the power plant contracts, any expansion of Iranian interests was a concern for the military here.

Man, it sure would be nice if we had a professional military under civilian control.

Seriously- I am tired of hearing the political opinions of anonymous military spokesmen. I know things have been confusing lately, with Bush crowning God-General after God-General in order to deflect from his disastrous leadership, but this is getting out of control. There seems to be a recent trend (this is where history buffs tell me I am full of it) in which the military feels the need to have a hand in shaping policy. It needs to stop.






24 replies
  1. 1
    Zifnab says:

    Iraq has agreed to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build a pair of enormous power plants, the Iraqi electricity minister said Tuesday.

    And where did Iraq get $1.1 billion? Did they fly it in, via a plane full of cellephane-wrapped bricks of money?

  2. 2
    Bombadil says:

    Iraq has agreed to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build a pair of enormous power plants, the Iraqi electricity minister said Tuesday.

    Why aren’t we already doing that?

  3. 3
    John Cole says:

    via a plane full of cellephane-wrapped bricks of money?

    I think you are thinking of Afghanistan.

  4. 4
    scarshapedstar says:

    And where did Iraq get $1.1 billion? Did they fly it in, via a plane full of cellephane-wrapped bricks of money?

    Why aren’t we already doing that?

    Somehow, I suspect there’s a connection between the “vanishing planeloads of cash” and “no meaningful reconstruction efforts”, but maybe I’m blinded by BDS.

  5. 5

    Seriously- I am tired of hearing the political opinions of anonymous military spokesmen. I know things have been confusing lately, with Bush crowning God-General after God-General in order to deflect from his disastrous leadership, but this is getting out of control. There seems to be a recent trend (this is where history buffs tell me I am full of it) in which the military feels the need to have a hand in shaping policy. It needs to stop.

    I think this is part of the politicization of the military that started under Reagan/Bush. It’s one of the things Admiral Crowe(CJCS 1985-1989) complained about in 1992 when he came out endorsing Bill Clinton.

    Republicans are weak and bereft of ideas for moving this nation forward. They rely upon dividing our nation, in order for them to maintain political power.

  6. 6
    lysias says:

    If “the military” here is not DOD civilians at the Pentagon, I suspect it is a PR type in uniform like that general they recently made spokesman in Baghdad right after he had been working for a while at the White House.

  7. 7
    chopper says:

    why is iraq asking the iranians for help? haven’t they seen what a great job the US did building baghdad’s police academy?

  8. 8
    Jake says:

    Word of the project prompted serious concerns among American military officials desk jockeys, who fear that Iranian commercial investments can mask military activities will make the Iraqi people throw flowers and candies at the people who got the lights back on, the pumps working and the A/C running at a time of heightened tension with Iran.

    Fixed.

    And I know this is off the topic you raised but in case anyone really thinks this has to do with those nefarious Iranians:

    An American Embassy spokesman said, “We welcome any efforts to help develop Iraq’s energy infrastructure.” “These proposals reflect the ongoing business opportunities that are arising in Iraq that American firms should be competing for,” said the spokesman, who asked not to be named because of standard protocol at the embassy.

    Note that the State Department also hides behind the curtain of Protocol. But what do you expect from an Administration that thinks responsibility is for little people?

  9. 9
    lysias says:

    On then-Brig. Gen. (now Maj. Gen.) Kevin J. Bergner: .

    See also .

  10. 10
    lysias says:

    Sorry. I failed to post the links. Let me post the URLs for the two articles on Bergner:

  11. 11
    whippoorwill says:

    I’m going to give the military a break on this one. It was Bush and his neocon wizards who sent the military into a country to topple it’s government, disband it’s military and refuse to let the US Sate Department have any role in rebuilding the country ala control freak Rumsfeld.

    It’s seems to me the military had no choice but to go into the policy business to try and get a handle on the spiraling chaos. But I do agree, it is way out of control, like a lot of things, and needs to stop. Just one more Bush breach of the constitution.

    also, Zifnab is right, I think, early on a plane full of American dollars flew to Jordan and vanished.

  12. 12
    Billy K says:

    There seems to be a recent trend (this is where history buffs tell me I am full of it) in which the military feels the need to have a hand in shaping policy. It needs to stop.

    They’ve been running the economy for 50 years. Shouldn’t they have a say in policy?

  13. 13
    Pb says:

    And where did Iraq get $1.1 billion? Did they fly it in, via a plane full of cellephane-wrapped bricks of money?

    Well it was over ten times that much cash, but since we don’t know where most of it went, sort of like all that missing weaponry (thanks, Gen. Petraeus!)…

  14. 14
    John Rohan says:

    John Cole:
    Seriously- I am tired of hearing the political opinions of anonymous military spokesmen.

    Well, I’m glad you have finally changed your mind; at last we agree on something. One thing that has exasperated me for the past several years is that 99% of all reports in the media of US torture, and secret plans to attack Iran are based on unnamed (re: anonymous) sources.

    Good to see you’re coming around.

  15. 15
    Punchy says:

    “These proposals reflect the ongoing business opportunities that are arising in Iraq that American firms should be competing for,” said the spokesman

    So we have spokesmen…people TRAINED IN HOW TO FUCKING SPEAK….ending sentences in prepositions?

    How professional. Nice to know those who should know know nothing about their f’in jobs.

  16. 16
    Gus says:

    When did we become the fucking Soviet Union? Seriously, we’re good at smashing shit, but when it’s rebuilding time the Iranians and the Chinese have to come it because we can’t help rebuild their infrastructure? Remember when the US was the place to go to get expertise on building things? Christ, we’ve been there for almost five years and half a trillion dollars, and we can’t get the basic infrastructure running.

  17. 17
    Jake says:

    Christ, we’ve been there for almost five years and half a trillion dollars, and we can’t get the basic infrastructure running.

    Large amounts of cash + Little or no oversight = This.

    Like much U.S. government work in 2003 and 2004, the contract was awarded on terms known as “cost-plus,” Parsons said, meaning that the company could bill the government for its actual cost, rather than a cost agreed to at the start, and add a profit margin. The deal was also classified as “design-build,” in which the contractor oversees the project from design to completion.

    These terms, among the most generous possible for contractors, were meant to encourage companies to undertake projects in a dangerous environment and complete them quickly.

    McCoy said Parsons subcontracted the clinics to four main Iraqi companies, which often hired local firms to do the actual construction, creating several tiers of overhead costs.

  18. 18
    Gus says:

    Yeah, maybe Soviet Union is the wrong model. Nigeria, maybe. Several tiers of overhead costs=several layers of official corruption.

  19. 19
    Billy K says:

    So we have spokesmen…people TRAINED IN HOW TO FUCKING SPEAK….ending sentences in prepositions?

    What – you want them to speak properly? How would the ‘merkin peoples understand them? They’d sound British. Or worse – gay! Didn’t you see Idiocracy?

    Remember when the US was the place to go to get expertise on building things?

    We’re still very good at building stadiums and strip malls. Very, very good.
    http://theticket.com/Cowboys/s.....7%2007.jpg

  20. 20
    LITBMueller says:

    There seems to be a recent trend (this is where history buffs tell me I am full of it) in which the military feels the need to have a hand in shaping policy. It needs to stop.

    There has certainly been a trend since the run-up to Iraq – The DoD under Rummy, and spurred on by Cheney, got incredibly involved in gathering “intelligence” (in quotes b/c most of it was bullshit) and shaping policy.

    Notice how all of the pronouncements about stuff like Iran smuggling shaped charges into Iraq comes from the military, and not the CIA? That sort of stuff is their purview, but that has all changed. CIA let its role be usurped by the military, while it privatized most of its remaining intelligence gathering activities.

    So, this is what we’re left with: a military no longer under firm civilian control that has let many of its activities be privatized (KBR – logistics; Blackwater – security; etc.) and a CIA that is no longer playing the lead role in intelligence gathering and policy-shaping, that has also been largely privatized. Plus, many of the more senior and experienced intelligence people have already left government to make money in the private sector (as is pointed out in the article I linked to).

    This is exactly how Iraq has become a insatiable monster. Many of the people that are conducting the activities that carry on the war are reliant on there actually being a war. The 21st Century MIC – and it will survive a change in administrations this time, and there’s no pesky draft to get the college kids all riled up.

    Ike is spinning in his grave.

  21. 21
    Chris says:

    You have to see the film “Why We Fight”, its a great documentary on the very topic.

    Add to this things like the story last week about the endless abuse of National Security Letters not just by the FBI, but the DOD as well. They’ve got no business getting near that shit.

    And the endless domestic threat assessments that have the DOD illegally spying on well-known violent groups like the Quaker church.

    Add Erik”Bircher” Prince and the creation of a North America Command, and its almost enough to make one paranoid.

  22. 22
    Tsulagi says:

    in which the military feels the need to have a hand in shaping policy.

    I don’t think the military has actively sought it. Not to the extent it’s occurred. It’s more a matter of their having to step into a void left by the President of No Responsibility or Accountability and the administration in his image.

    If something turns out good, thank God for Commander Guy. If it doesn’t turn out good, Commander Guy didn’t make that decision, knew nothing about it, is therefore not responsible, and is being unfairly besmirched by the actions of a few bad apples. Known truth.

  23. 23

    Why build new? I’m assuming Iraq had adequate infrastructure before the coalition forces bombed the hell out of it, so why not just fix ’em?

    Oh yeah, that isn’t something we’re interested in doing. Duh.

  24. 24
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    I disagree completely with both Cole and John Rohan about the undesirability of “anonymous military spokesmen” — given that we’re currently saddled with an administration whose attitude toward OFFICIAL releases of information very strongly resembles that of Stalin’s Politburo.

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