Nuclear Powers to Consider Nuke-Free Zone in Middle East

Nuclear Powers to Consider Nuke-Free Zone in Middle East

The world’s five recognized nuclear powers are set to talk this week about prospects for establishing the Middle East as a nuclear weapon-free zone, Interfax reported on Monday (see GSN, Feb. 17).

Envoys from China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — the five nations acknowledged as nuclear weapon states under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty — are scheduled to convene in Paris for talks on a range of potential confidence-building measures that could pave the way for future nuclear disarmament.

“One of the topics for discussion is what should be done to fully implement the resolutions of the Review Conference for the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons to create a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

At the 2010 five-year review conference of the NPT accord, treaty signatories committed to holding a regional conference in 2012 “on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction” (see GSN, June 3).

Ryabkov said the five nuclear powers — who also hold the five permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council — have gathered together before to discuss nuclear weapon issues.

“I cannot say that this whole topic is problem-free,” the Russian diplomat said. “At this meeting we will discuss how to find ways of reconciling the positions on the existing nuances” (Interfax, June 27).

“After you Brother!” Qadaffi stays and Obama leaves?

“After you Brother!”  Qadaffi stays and Obama leaves?


“After you Brother!” Qadaffi stays and Obama leaves?

Franklin Lamb, Tripoli, Libya
The 6/27/11 International Criminal Courts (ICC) arrest warrants issued for Muammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, and Libya intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi, however pleasing to the “rebels” and NATO, probably won’t have much effect on negotiating a settlement between the two camps and certainly the warrants will not facilitate a voluntary regime change. Quite likely, the warrants effects will tend toward the obverse, with the Libyan government ignoring, but ridiculing the much criticized ICC and pointing out its historical pattern of targeting African leaders. At Tripoli’s Rixos Nasser Hotel, just a few hours after the arrest warrants were announced, Libya’s Justice Minister and a high ranking Foreign Affairs official did just that and then refused to take any questions from the large gathering of western journalists of whom Libya is distrustful given a spate of recent false main stream media reports that have been exposed as hoaxes.
photoColonel Qaddafi and his supporters, in a series of what this observer refers to as “Hezbollah style free give and take dialogue sessions” are making it very plain that they will prevail in reunifying Libya and probably before Ramadan which begins, this year, in early August. They argue that the “rebels” are increasingly fighting among themselves and are losing popular support. It’s an argument similar to the one the “rebels” are using to explain how their victory is all but assured, also by the end of Ramadan.

A subsequent report will also detail NATO terrorism and crimes against the civilian population that have included the 2/17 /11 to 6/27/11 bombing of 294 civilian targets, killing and wounding a total of 6,232 according to the Libyan Red Crescent Society statistics. These civilian targets include the Libyan Down’s Syndrome Society, a school that provided speech therapy, handicrafts and sports sessions for disabled children as well as Tripoli’s Nassar University, homes, schools, medical facilities and food storage warehouses, Bombing these sites are all outlawed by the Geneva Conventions and constitute NATO war crimes. An additional massive documentation project by international organizations is expected to be completed by July 30, 2011.
Once entering Libya from Tunisia, the roughly 115 mile drive to Tripoli currently provides a fascinating if unsettling introduction to the current situation in Tripoli. By the time I arrived at the hotel my mouth tasted like I had sipped kerosene and my clothes reeked of the same. The reason is that the acute petroleum products shortage has meant that Tunisians and others are transporting for quick cash, whatever they can get to Tripoli to supply thousands of cars that are stranded along the roadside without fuel in their tanks. Just about every opened car trunk I observed being inspected randomly at more than 50 check points between Jerba, Tunisia and Tripoli, Libya, were jammed with full plastic fuel containers. Many apparently leak and over the past three months have left a heavy pall and stench for nearly one hundred miles. Some trucks, loaded with perhaps close to 1000 55 gallon drums of gasoline seemed quite ready to topple over from being seriously top-heavy with the center of gravity being at tire level. Bread, children toys as well as dry and canned goods also fill many cars.
The main attitude one encounters on the streets of the old city such as Avenue Omar Muktar, and along the cornice is defiance and strong nationalist support for Libya’s Revolution.
“It’s our country. What choice do we have but to defend it? “is a commonly expressed sentiment. One woman asked me, “Shall I take off my white Hijab and wave it to surrender when the NATO troops come to my neighborhood or shall I wear my green scarf and fire my weapons. For sure my choice is the second!”
A Libyan businessman, who admits he has lots of free time these days, and who was educated at George Washington University, commented: “UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorized the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya to supposedly protect civilians from Muammar Gaddafi. The reality is that we need NATO to just declare ‘mission accomplished’ and then stop slaughtering our “protected” people?”
This morning during a long and exhilarating discussion with an official at the Libya People’s Congress HQ in Tripoli, the General=Secretary told me that more than two million of the 3.5 million Libyans over 18 years have been armed and are training to fight NATO when/if they arrive on the ground.
Virtually everyone who is asked gives assurances that “Baba (Father) Qaddafi” will not flee but will, if necessary, die defending his country. They believe he will survive even more NATO assassination attempts. More than once officials confidently stated that Qaddafi will be here after US President Obama is rejected by the American people in the 2012 election.


Support for this idea is found in the seemingly widespread support Qaddafi appears to enjoy and also certain “benefits”resulting froma certain Libyan pride in five million citizens still full of resistance after 100 days of facing 27 countries, the bombs have united the people, forced the sometimes too comfortable population to face the future even one without Baba Gaddafi, learned that the media strikes with false stories is stronger than the military assault in some respects, the exposure of several in the government who were ready to quickly sell out, with one million young people injected new blood into the 42 year old revolution, relearning that the “Arab system” i.e. Arab League is worthless, that it’s the poor people of Libya who truly believe in the Revolution and are remaining loyal to it not those with foreign bank accounts who NATO and the US were able to quickly threaten and pressure to defect, the confidence that the peoples arms and their self-confidence will ultimately win this attempted occupation, the “rebels” have exposed the Muslim Brotherhood as a US partner and also has shown the true nature of the Jihadists, Al Qaeda and NATO itself, that the African Union has a key function to perform, that Libya is not divisible because of its social and economic interdependency, the realization that Libya must reform and reject the IMF system and learn from its mistakes in trusting the US and certain countries in 2002 when it gave up certain weapons systems and placed billions of dollars in American banks, a return to peoples capitalism not government capitalism, and the need to become more self-reliant. In addition, due to the crisis Women have stepped forward and are surprising many by “taking charge” of many governmental functions and encouraging the population to defend their country, the youth of the country are following many much like themselves across the middle east and are getting involved not just in defending their country but also in working on reforms including the drafting of a Constitution in a convention being held in Tripoli next week. Libyans are saying that they have to rejuvenate their revolution and rely on themselves. Nearly everyone is claiming that Libya was deceived in the 2004 negotiations and agreement with the US and Western countries. They admit that they have paid a big price in terms of lives lost and infrastructure damage.
Libya also intends to continue their gold based currency project and continue improving relations with African countries. Libya’s squeezing the former French colonial power out of most of Africa is one motive of that country to seek regime change.
Regime Change?
President Obama is likely to be defeated in 2012 according to former Bush advisor, Karl Rove and a swelling number of US political pundits. The US economy is very weak and unlikely to experience a significant recovery by Election Day. Key voter groups are rejecting Obama partly because of his war of choice in Libya which is seen as a bad strategic decision with NATO’s actions increasingly becoming a deadly farce with his justification increasingly ridiculed and the cost now more than 500 billion USD.
In addition, the unemployment is approaching 10% with close to 14 million Americans out of work with half of them having been without work for more than six months. They remember that Obama promised much better, declaring that his February 2009 stimulus would cause unemployment to peak at 8% by the end of summer 2009 and drop to roughly 6.8% today.
Gallup has reported Obama’s job approval rating this week at 45%, down from 67% at his inaugural. Among the groups showing a larger-than-average decline since 2009 are whites (down 25 points); older voters (down 24); independents and college graduates (both down 23), those with a high-school education or less, men, and Southerners (all down 22); women (down 21 points); married couples and those making $2,000-$4,000 a month (down 20). This all points to severe trouble in suburbs and midsized cities in states likes Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada.
Moreover, approval among younger voters has dropped 22 points, and it’s dropped 20 points among Latinos. Even African-American voters are less excited about Mr. Obama than they were and many deeply oppose his policies, and he tends to be weakest on issues voters consider most important. In the June 13 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 56% disapprove of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy. Fifty-nine percent in the Economist/YouGov poll of June 14 disapprove of how he’s dealt with the deficit.
The White House is reportedly becoming reconciled to the fact that Qaddafi may remain in the Libyan leadership.
Whether Obama will be reelected is increasingly uncertain.
Gaddafi has survived assaults of various types from US Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George Bush 1, Clinton, George Bush 2, and Obama. Vegas book makers are giving odds he’ll be the leader of Libya’s Fatah Revolution after the voters retire Obama whose broken promises included telling them that the US would be involved in Libya for days, not months.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Libya. He is reachable c\o

He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon.

He contribute to Uprooted Palestinians Blog

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Chota Rajan Gang Implicated In Jyotendra Dey Killing

[It is typical in a “false flag” type of attack to make the criminal act appear to be the work of your enemy.  In the ongoing underworld warfare of Dawood Ibrahim and former partner Chota Rajan, it may be safe to say that whatever the circumstantial evidence seems to prove, it is just as likely that the truth is just the exact opposite.  If it implicates Rajan in the killing of a reporter who was allegedly investigating Dawood, then the killer may have worked for Ibrahim.  Since the police have the testimony of the shooters that they didn’t know that their victim was a reporter until they heard it on TV, they may not have known the true source of their pay-off.] 

“Dey was believed to be working on articles on wanted gangster Dawood Ibrahim” (SEE:  Investigative journalist shot dead in Mumbai).

Chota Rajan

File photo of senior journalist Jyotendra Dey, who was shot dead by unidentified persons near his residence in Mumbai on Saturday.

PTI File photo of senior journalist Jyotendra Dey

Finally, a breakthrough

Under tremendous pressure to crack senior crime journalist Jyotirmoy Dey’s murder on June 11, the Mumbai police have come up with an underworld shooter from the Chhota Rajan gang as the main culprit. Satish Kaliya and six others are to be booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and their gang leader Chhota Rajan made an absconding accused in the case. The arrest comes a day after another gang leader, Chhota Shakeel, called up a leading newspaper and denied he had anything to do with the killing of Dey. Rajan too had reportedly denied his involvement. The Mumbai police took their time with the case and were reluctant to hand it over to the CBI. Investigations are still under way and the 3,000 emails in Dey’s inbox have to be examined for crucial evidence. Importantly no motive, whether professional or personal, has been ascribed to the killing as yet. From police accounts, the murder was planned meticulously over 20 days. However, it is rather strange that the shooter was, according to the police, unaware of the identity of Dey as a leading crime reporter and he realised it only subsequently while watching television. The investigation covered a wide ambit since Dey was writing on the oil mafia, underworld links with policemen, and other issues. Admittedly, the police had a difficult task but pressure from the press, the court, and the government forced it into speeding up the investigation and zeroing in on the alleged killers unlike in other States where nothing has happened in similar cases.

For the beleaguered Mumbai police, the arrests have come as a respite after some red herrings were thrown in the path of the investigation. Its reputation has been under the scanner for a while and, even during its moment of triumph, the State Home Minister had to suspend a police inspector who was involved in organising a rave party outside Mumbai. Having caught the suspects, the police have an even bigger challenge — unravelling the motive behind this brazen killing. Most crime reporters have excellent contacts with the underworld and a network of informers. Dey did not speak to anyone of a threat to his life or demand protection. It is an unwritten rule that the underworld rarely killed members of the media, though there were two cases in early 1980s in and outside Mumbai in the heyday of Dawood Ibrahim. The police have indicated that the emails could lay bare the reasons for Dey’s tragic death. The investigators cannot rest easy having caught the alleged culprits, though that is a major breakthrough. The reasons for the crime are just as important.

US Reenters the Fight Near Tora Bora

[This is the US forces setting-up the anvil for Pakistan’s hammer operation in Kurram, or perhaps N. Waziristan.  Is this another sign of cooperation between the two Armies?]

U.S., Afghan forces target mountains

By Carmen Gentile, Special for USA TODAY

  • U.S. Army Capt. Aaron Tapalman takes part in a foot patrol Friday with his troops in a mountainous area near the border with Pakistan at Combat Outpost Sabari in Khost province.
    By Ted Aljibe, AFP/Getty Images

    U.S. Army Capt. Aaron Tapalman takes part in a foot patrol Friday with his troops in a mountainous area near the border with Pakistan at Combat Outpost Sabari in Khost province.

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — A large-scale operation airlifting hundreds of U.S. and Afghan soldiers into the rugged, insurgent-laced mountains of eastern Afghanistan is being met with fierce resistance by the Taliban and other armed groups, according to U.S. military officials in the region.

U.S. commanders say the aim is to wipe out a persistent insurgency in the northern part of Watahpur District in Kunar province, long a stronghold for armed factions both local and from nearby Pakistan, preparing the way for a takeover by the Afghanistan National Army.

“We’re trying to kill every terrorist in the area,” said Maj. Pat Stitch, brigade operations officer for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

Stitch said the hope is that the Afghan army can “hold what we cleared” and patrol a region that has been dominated by insurgents from both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The idea is that the ANA should be doing this by themselves,” he said, adding that ideally the Afghan National Police would join the ANA in its effort.

U.S. forces were realigned

The offensive operation is the largest for the 3rd Brigade since its deployment to eastern Afghanistan in April. A brigade spokesman, Maj. David Eastburn, said it was at least “five to seven times larger than any previous operation conducted by the brigade.”

Taming this volatile area of Kunar is not an easy one, a lesson U.S. forces have learned in recent years in this region. American troops have sustained heavy casualties in Watahpur District and the surrounding area.

A small combat outpost in the restive Korengal Valley, just to the west of Watahpur, was overrun in 2009, leaving eight soldiers dead just weeks before it was scheduled to be closed.

Watahpur is bisected by the Pech River Valley, where in recent months several U.S. military bases and smaller combat outposts were handed over to the Afghan army.

Prior to the handover, a full battalion of American soldiers had a permanent presence in the region. Now there remains one U.S. Army company and an attached platoon.

Unlike the battle in southern Afghanistan, where U.S. and Afghan forces have cleared large areas of Taliban militants over the last 12 months, the insurgency in eastern Afghanistan remains a difficult face-to-face fight.

Insurgents have attacked military bases with mortar and rocket fire and planted narrow mountain roads where U.S. troops patrol by foot and armored vehicles with numerous improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

“It’s obvious we’re taking the fight to the enemy,” Stitch said. “We didn’t abandon the area, we just realigned U.S. forces.”

In a demanding battle

So far, the fight has proven particularly difficult. U.S. and Afghan forces were flown into a mountainous terrain as high as 10,000 feet where they are meeting the enemy sometimes at very close range.

Stitch said coalition troops were fortifying fighting positions “with rocks or whatever they can find” and seeking out insurgents in tiny villages that dot the area.

It’s a demanding fight, he said, with soldiers getting little rest and supplies being airdropped into the battlefield. Some firefights have been at “extremely close range,” he said.

The operation in Watahpur is also a fight without a specific timeline. Soldiers are prepared to remain in the battle “until the enemy stops shooting,” Eastburn said.

Since the operation began in earnest June 25, 30 U.S. troops have been injured and three killed.

Pfc. Tyler Sankbeil, 20, was injured when a Chinook helicopter transporting troops made what U.S. military officials call a “hard landing,” or a landing done with greater speed and force than normal. Several others were injured.

Lying on a backboard, his neck in a brace, Sankbeil characterized the helicopter landing as a crash preceded by a series of loud bangs.

“I saw people’s feet flying around and people were getting ejected from their seats,” he said. The U.S. military said the crash was caused by a mechanical failure and not enemy fire.

U.S. military commanders said they have so far killed close to 80 insurgents.

Brigade Intelligence Officer Maj. Chris Rankin said the militants were part of the Taliban and Pakistani insurgent groups such as the Tehrik-i-Taliban, known as the TTP, and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Lashkar-e-Taiba, which regularly cross the ill-defined border to wage attacks on American and Afghan troops.

“It’s (Watahpur) an ideal insurgent safe haven,” Rankin said.

Understanding the Psy-Op We Live In


Response to BBC Report “Brigadier Ali Khan: Pakistan’s dissenting army officer”

By Zahir Ebrahim
Thursday, June 23, 2011

The BBC report of this morning, June 23, 2011, Brigadier Ali Khan: Pakistan’s dissenting army officer, on first glance is very interesting. Finally a patriot military man in the Pakistani praetorian guard.

On second glance however, it isn’t. Heart and mind are two different things. Both are needed. One without the other is either blind, or cruel. Here is why it isn’t interesting on second glance.

The BBC report states, inter alia:

‘Brigadier Ali Khan, the Pakistani officer detained for his alleged links with the banned extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, had been highly critical of the Pakistani army’s high command over its relationship with the US, reports BBC Urdu’s Asif Farooqi. …

[H]e had been exerting strong pressure on the top echelons of Pakistan’s military to stop co-operating with American forces in the fight against Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents, army officers who served with the brigadier during his 32-year career told the BBC.

“The army is a cult in itself, so it’s intolerant towards any other cult within” — Maj Gen Athar Abbas, Quoted by BBC News 23 June 2011

Pakistan’s military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said that there was compelling evidence against the brigadier owing to his contacts with the banned group. …

Successive promotion boards rejected Brig Ali while his colleagues and subordinates continued to rise up the promotion ladder, overtaking him. Indeed, to date, Brig Khan is the oldest brigadier in the Pakistani army.

His colleagues thought he would be unable to withstand a career going nowhere and would seek early retirement. But they were soon proved wrong. The brigadier told his colleagues he had more to accomplish in his job.

It soon became clear what he meant by that.

Brig Khan started writing letters to army generals, some of whom were his former colleagues, with suggestions on how to become “self reliant” and “to purge the army of the American influence”.’

The aforementioned reminded me of “Re-Imagining Pakistan’s Defenses – Open Letter to a Pakistani General” November 30, 2007 (PDF )

But the following is where it stopped reminding me any further:

‘Brig Ali even wrote to the President Asif Ali Zardari suggesting ways to make Pakistan economically self-reliant by freeing the country of American aid.’

Asking Zardari sahib? ( PDF )

And the following completely tells me that the excitement of patriotism/nationalism, and finally breaking the yoke of imperialism, on the part of any Pakistani reading this BBC report may be pre-mature:

‘One officer present in the meeting said all had been going well until it was Brig Khan’s turn to speak. In his opinion, the culprits who had hidden Bin Laden and allowed the Americans to get away with breaching Pakistan’s sovereignty were to be found within the army.’

This Brig. Khan can’t tell one puppetshow from another.

While all this is admittedly only the BBC report, and like anything else appearing in any media, must be taken circumspectly, the article clearly re-asserts the existence of boogeyman Ali Baba.

Notice the play: even the most zealous and patriotic Pakistani Brigadier who even dissented with the upper echelon of the Pakistani military (at the risk of his own promotion to Major General) in its cooperation with the United States on the War on Terror, and wanted to limit its scope, also believed in the Osama Bin Laden, the Al Qaeeda, and other tales.

When a presumably patriotic Brigadier cannot see the difference between red-team/blue team operation, when a sitting Brigadier who by the account of this article should have been Maj. General by now (if not Lt. General), cannot see black-ops imperial projects to fabricate synthetic terror in order to create the hegelian dialectic of “evil doers” vs. the “good guys” in insurgency vs. counter-insurgency game of “imperial mobilization” ( ), it is not obvious to me what this fuss is all about.

Perhaps the Pakistani military command who are reading this blog (yeh!), might read ‘The Poor-Man’s Guide to Modernity’ (PDF ) and leave this poor but well-intentioned brigadier alone.

Brig. Ali Khan’s heart evidently is in the right place when he speaks of “self reliant” and “to purge the army of the American influence”, even if his analysis requires some rethinking.

And what exactly is the reality behind all this?

I won’t take the BBC’s word on it.

The only reason the BBC has published this article, in my view at least, is that the Mighty Wurlitzer is doing its job ( ).

That job is mass behavior control. Among other propaganda techniques to affect behavior, to spin narratives which on the surface are appealing to some, but still manage to echo empire’s core axioms. This is the bread and butter of dissent in the West. When mainstream news tasked with engineering consent by their owners, occasionally echo that technique to demonstrate their “objectivity”, there is essentially still no difference. In either case, the primary objective of the press is behavior control, especially for matters of immediate pertinence to current affairs and on-going “imperial mobilization” projects. It is not awareness creation of the diabolical techniques of “imperial mobilization” ( ).

Ex post facto narratives are a different beast – many will truthfully narrate that which is already a fait accompli. It is called history!

This BBC report, whatever its veracity, prima facie still underscores the undeniable fact of the mater. And that is, that even when the intention of rebellion might be genuine, even when the thirst for independence from empire’s mayhem might set an indigenous military patriot’s throat on fire in Pakistan, our modernity is a twisted devil. It comes wrapped in multifaceted Hegelian Dialectic.

Without acutely comprehending this modernity, there simply cannot be any freedom for any nation and any people, no matter how fervently riled up they might get. That riling up is simply harvested on one or the other side of the Hegelian Dialectic. You are either a “militant” aiding and abetting “insurgency” if you don’t like hegemony or have been “tickled” into it, or, are part of empire’s Allies douching it with “counter-insurgency” if you don’t like the insurgents or just love to play house negro to the white man. Once caught in such a Hegelian Dialectic where both sides are orchestrated by the same powers, there is no escape from that matrix.

Brigadier Ali Khan appears to be caught in that matrix!

Zahir Ebrahim


U.S. foreign policy: War fever subisdes

U.S. foreign policy: War fever subisdes

As Americans weary of the mission in Afghanistan, Democrats and Republicans alike are raising serious questions about the nation’s propensity for multiple, open-ended wars. Finally.

By Andrew J. BacevichJune 28, 2011

At periodic intervals, the American body politic has shown a marked susceptibility to messianic fevers. Whenever an especially acute attack occurs, a sort of delirium ensues, manifesting itself in delusions of grandeur and demented behavior.

By the time the condition passes and a semblance of health is restored, recollection of what occurred during the interval of illness tends to be hazy. What happened? How’d we get here? Most Americans prefer not to dwell on the questions. Feeling much better now! Thanks!

Gripped by such a fever in 1898, Americans evinced an irrepressible impulse to liberate oppressed Cubans. By the time they’d returned to their senses, having acquired various parcels of real estate between Puerto Rico and the Philippines, no one could quite explain what had happened or why.

In 1917, the fever suddenly returned. Amid wild ravings about waging a war to end war, Americans lurched off to France. This time the affliction passed quickly, although the course of treatment proved painful: confinement to the charnel house of the Western Front, followed by bitter medicine administered at Versailles.

The 1960s brought another bout (and yet more disappointment). An overwhelming urge to pay any price, bear any burden landed Americans in Vietnam. The fall of Saigon in 1975 seemed, for a brief interval, to inoculate the body politic against any further recurrence. Yet the salutary effects of this “Vietnam syndrome” proved fleeting. By the time the Cold War ended, Americans were running another temperature, their self-regard reaching impressive new heights.

Then came 9/11, and the fever simply soared off the charts. The messiah nation was really pissed and was going to fix things once and for all.

Nearly 10 years have passed since Washington set out to redeem the greater Middle East. The crusades have not gone especially well. In fact, in the pursuit of its mission, the American messiah has pretty much worn itself out.

Today, the post-9/11 fever finally shows signs of abating, though the sickness has by no means passed. Oddly, it lingers most strongly in the Obama White House, where a keenness to express American ideals by dropping bombs persists.

Yet, despite the urges of some in the Obama administration, after nearly a decade of self-destructive flailing about, American recovery has become a distinct possibility. Here’s some of the evidence:

In Washington, it’s no longer considered a sin to question American omnipotence. Take the case of Robert Gates. The outgoing secretary of Defense certainly restored a modicum of competence and accountability to the Pentagon. But the most enduring Gates legacy is likely to be found in his willingness, however belated, to acknowledge the limits of American power.

No one can charge Gates with being an isolationist or a national security wimp. So when he says anyone proposing another major land war in the Middle East “should have his head examined” — citing the authority of Douglas MacArthur, no less — people take notice. Or more recently there is this. “I’ve got a military that’s exhausted,” Gates remarked. “Let’s just finish the wars we’re in and keep focused on that instead of signing up for other wars of choice.” Someone should etch that into outer walls of the Pentagon’s E-ring.

Half a dozen years ago, “wars of choice” were all the rage in Washington. No more. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Or consider the officer corps. There is no “military mind,” but there are plenty of minds in the military, and some numbers of them are rethinking the role of military power.

Consider, for example, “Mr. Y,” author of “A National Strategic Narrative,” published this spring to considerable acclaim by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The actual authors of this report are two military professionals, one a Navy captain, the other a Marine colonel.

What you won’t find in this document are jingoist chest-thumping and calls for a bigger military budget. If there’s an overarching theme, it’s pragmatism. Rather than the United States imposing its will on the world, the authors want more attention paid to investment at home.

The world is too big and complicated for any one nation to call the shots, they insist. The effort to do so is self-defeating. “As Americans,” Mr. Y writes, “we needn’t seek the world’s friendship or proselytize the virtues of our society. Neither do we seek to bully, intimidate, cajole or persuade others to accept our unique values or to share our national objectives. Rather, we will let others draw their own conclusions based upon our actions…. We will pursue our national interests and let others pursue theirs.”

And finally, by gum, there is the U.S. Congress. Just when that body appeared to have entered a permanent vegetative state, a flickering of intelligent life has made its reappearance, and Democratsand Republicans alike — albeit for different reasons — are raising serious questions about the nation’s propensity for multiple, open-ended wars.

Some members cite concerns for the Constitution and the abuse of executive power. Others worry about the price tag. With Osama bin Laden out of the picture, still others insist that it’s time to rethink strategic priorities. No doubt partisan calculation or personal ambition figure alongside matters of principle. After all, they are politicians.

Given what polls indicate is a growing public unhappiness over the Afghanistan war, speaking out against the war these days doesn’t exactly require political courage. Still, the possibility of our legislators reasserting a role in deciding whether or not a war actually serves the national interest, rather than simply rubber-stamping appropriations and slinking away, now presents itself. God bless the United States Congress.

Of course, at the first signs of self-restraint, you can always count on the likes of Sen. John McCain or the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal to decry (in McCain’s words) an “isolationist-withdrawal-lack-of-knowledge-of-history attitude.” In such quarters, fever is a permanent condition, and it’s always 104 and rising. Yet it is a measure of how quickly things are changing that McCain himself, once deemed a source of straight talk, now comes across as a mere crank.

In this way, nearly a decade after our most recent descent into madness, does the possibility of recovery finally beckon.

Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His most recent book is “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.” A longer version of this piece appears at

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times