Category Archives: Iraq

Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power

[Book Review] The author, David Sanger, appears to have better access to classified information than most gov’t intel analysts; he certainly has better access to policy makers and strategists. The coverage of cyber operations, especially Stuxnet and Olympic Games, is the most powerful and revealing section of the book – given that Sanger was at the forefront of breaking these stories in the media, hardly a surprise.


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Israel Considering Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Facilities?

Interesting, and somewhat ominous article in the Times today (and another one in the Post) about Israel possibly stepping up preparations for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities in Natanz. Having been on the ground in the area, I can attest to the tightness of the security – not two minutes after pulling off to the side of the road to check directions, my guide and I had soldiers pounding on the car, demanding to know what we were doing.

While Iranian air defenses are probably too weak to prevent, or perhaps even detect, a surprise Israeli strike, antiaircraft weaponry is ubiquitous in the area and would certainly strive to be a factor.

My take? Once U.S. military forces have officially withdrawn from Iraq and are no longer ‘blocking’ an Israeli strike, the possibility of one increases markedly – an interesting corollary to our presence in Iraq has been helping to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran. Definitely an issue worth keeping an eye on once the new year arrives.


Axis of Evil World Tour – An American’s Travels in Iran, Iraq and North Korea

A book on my travels in Bush’s three Axis of Evil countries. Excerpts from the book are available in the Iraq, Iran, and North Korea sections of this blog, with additional photos on the book’s website at:

My goal in writing the book is to present the countries as I saw them, without adhering to any particular branch of U.S. politics or foreign policy – if you are a diehard Democratic or Republican ideologue, I’m not your guy. For more on the book, please check out my interview with Chicago NPR station, WBEZ.


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My Ticket into Iraq (Book Excerpt, Iraq 1)


Qatar U.S. Air Force Passenger Terminal
Qatar – U.S. Air Force Passenger Terminal

It’s called a ‘tactical landing’. Wary of missiles or other ground fire, planes ferrying troops and cargo into Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) start taking evasive action a few miles from the runway – one minute you’re flying along strapped onto your bench in the packed cargo bay, the next minute you’ve suddenly been flung off a cliff. Your stomach floats up as you wonder if you’re going to pop out of your seat, when suddenly the plane banks sharply and you try not to knock over the soldier sitting to your side. Next you’re slammed into the bottom of the seat as the pilot jerks the plane higher. All this played out for miles in a windowless, fetid cargo hold stinking of fuel and sweat. Nausea and vomiting are common, with the first chunks summoning others as the smell wafts its way through the plane.


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Iraq – Life on Base (Book Excerpt, Iraq 2)

As I got more comfortable with the job and figured out a routine, plus got to know some of the people I was working with, I was able to get out and explore the vast areas near the airport under the control of U.S. and coalition forces. Dominating the center of our compound was a large artificial lake dotted with a couple of small islands and stocked with fish. The whole area had been a walled-off, well-watered, rest and relaxation spot for the Hussein family and upper-level Baath Party members. Though somewhat rundown, bombed, and shot up, it was still kind of nice.

Baath Headquarters, Baghdad
Baath Headquarters, Baghdad – now inside a U.S. base


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