Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Boss speaks out - good regional insight

Cool It Call Over 'Sabre-Rattling'
(GULF DAILY NEWS 07 SEP 07) Mark Summers

IRAN must stop its "disruptive" rhetoric and behaviour to cool tensions
in the region, a top US military official warned in Bahrain yesterday.

The US takes Iranian threats seriously and is ready to deal with them,
said US Navy Fifth Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff.

The Iranian regime is bringing pressure upon itself with its own
actions, he said, after addressing a meeting of the American Chamber of
Commerce (AmCham) Bahrain, at the Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel, Residence
and Spa.

"Is Iran a threat? I think what concerns me with Iran is their rhetoric
and the fact that they say things that I don't think need saying," said
Vice-Adm Cosgriff.

"If you recall, not too many weeks ago they made a comment about Bahrain
- essentially that this was a province of Iran."

"First of all it's not true. It was intended to intimidate and coerce
and that is disruptive. What we believe in is security and stability and
disruptive behaviour is always a concern."

"I would hope that the government of Iran would stop that sort of
language because it is intended to incite, to coerce and to intimidate
and I don't think that has a useful role in the region."

He was referring to a widely-reported editorial written by Hossein
Sharjatmadari, editor of a hard-line Iranian newspaper and close aide to
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which claimed Bahrain as
Iranian territory.

The Iranian government immediately distanced itself from the remarks,
saying they did not represent the government view.

Vice-Adm Cosgriff urged Iran to moderate its actions, to avoid the risk
of military conflict.

"Hopefully there will be no reason for the international community to
confront Iran," he said.

"You would hope that they would listen to the international community
and the various mechanisms that have been put in place to try to resolve
the issue that Iran brought on itself."

"The issue is peace versus military application of nuclear power and
Iran following the rules that they have agreed to, that they are now
apparently not doing.

"So we would encourage them to work with the UN, work with the Group of
Six, or with other people who are trying to mediate and solve it

In June, Iranian parliament speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel warned that
Iran would strike US military bases in neighbouring Gulf states if they
were used as staging posts to attack the Islamic republic over its
nuclear programme.

Vice-Adm Cosgriff said he did not take such words lightly.

"I do take it seriously, I get paid to take things like that at face
value," he said. "It's like you are walking down the street of a big
city in someplace and somebody jumps out and says I am going to take
your wallet."

"We want to project the fact that we are a ready navy force and that we
posture ourselves in a way that would make sure that if somebody started
something, then we are going to be able to manage ourselves

"We are here for what I have said. We are here for - which is regional
security, regional stability - we believe that contributes to the
prosperity of Bahrain and other countries and it is important to global
economic stability because of the statistics of oil and gas exploration
upon which regional prosperity is based.

On piracy in the Gulf, Vice-Adm Cosgriff slammed the "thuggery" of those
who steal the possessions of others at sea.

"The common language of the pirates to date has been Farsi," he said,

In his speech to the AmCham gathering, Vice-Adm Cosgriff outlined the
nature of the responsibilities he faced as Fifth fleet commander.

"I am in charge of all 25,000 sailors afloat and ashore across this
region - and the region goes from Egypt to Pakistan and from Kazakhstan
to Kenya," he said.

"On the coalition side, the principle focus is maritime security. This
is where we want to build partnerships with the navies and the
coastguards in the region to help them with their capacity building, but
also more importantly the protection of their infrastructure."

"All of these forces out here, it is important to keep in mind, are
doing what they do against the backdrop of the ongoing struggle of
violent extremism."

He stressed that he has responsibility for a peaceful and orderly
maritime environment, given that 40 per cent of the world's oil passes
through the Strait of Hormuz.

Vice-Adm Cosgtriff praised Bahrain for its co-operation with the Fifth

"We are fortunate to have in Bahrain, such a strong partner - obviously
housing the headquarters was no small contribution, also they were the
first Gulf country to actually join the maritime coalition and send
ships to sea," he said.

Vice-Adm Cosgriff cited respect, commitment, persistence and strength as
the beliefs of his fleet.

"We believe in certain things. First and foremost we believe in the idea
of respect, based on the rule of law and international norms, but it is
also based on a respect for the religious and cultural heritage of this

"We believe in commitment. Maritime security is based on the belief that
the region and its people obviously are important in their own right,
but also mindful of the region's role in the larger global economy and

"We believe in persistence, the US Navy has been present in the region
for more than 60 years and we have every expectation to be here for
decades to come."

"The coalition that we established seven years ago is getting stronger
and we are going to keep making it better and better."

"Lastly, we believe in strength, certainly we want to remain ready
across the full range of our military capabilities. We also remain ready
because of that capability and can respond across a range of more
peaceful and contributory missions, such as disaster relief."

Vice-Admiral Cosgriff also revealed US authorities were studying the
idea of permitting sailors' families to again reside in Bahrain for the
first time since the US ordered them to leave the kingdom, in 2004.

"First and foremost, it is important for the sailors. Second, it is
important for my headquarters - with the continuity you get from longer
tours of duty and third, it is important for our long-term relationship
with Bahrain."

"I am optimistic that while I am in command, we will begin to see change
in the policy."

"I am quite optimistic that we will continue to build on the visits and
eventually get approval to start bringing families back - they are not
going to show up over night, but that's okay. Once we get the
green-light, we will start bringing them here."

Vice-Admiral Cosgriff said he was "optimistic" about allied operations
in Iraq.

"My hope is that some of the trends we are seeing will continue in terms
of the overall level of violence," he said.

The city of Baghdad still has areas that are troublesome, but by and
large the trends are going in the right direction."

"I think we are going to have a lot of news here in the next couple of
weeks with the General Petraeus report and how that is greeted in the
US. I think there is reason to be optimistic."

Newly-appointed US Ambassador to Bahrain Joseph Ereli was amongst those
attending the gathering.

1 comment:

SC said...

Today is September 11. Its been 6 years since the country was sucker punched by a bunch of well organized Islamic terrorists who murderd 3000 innocent civilians while killing themselves. Some think we should have seen the attack coming. Some think we brought it on ourselves. One thing is certain: the world has changed forever since that bright September morning.

Six years after the attack on Pearl Harbor the world was already at peace. Our enemies had been vanquished; 250,000 Americans had been sacraficed on the altar of freedom - their blood shed in the name of stability, sanity and freedom for the other 2 billion residents of the planet. America was united. America was energized. America had been solely focused towards a single purpose of utterly defeating murderous enemies who brought us into the fight. America mobilized and fought on two fronts simultaneously. And America dropped two atomic bombs to finally end the war and save the world.

For all the death and destruction of 3 1/2 years of worldwide conflict, our country was overflowing with post-war optimism in 1947. It was the beginning of the baby boom and Americans collectively and unashamedly believed in the patriotism, the inherent goodness of democracy and the incalculable benefit of freedom that was granted to victor and vanquished alike.

Those were the good old days.

The war of this generation is more technical, more surgical and much 'lighter' than previous wars. Each of the 3300 American deaths attributable to the Iraq / Afghanistan wars are no less tragic, but miniscule in comparison to the horrifying numbers from World War Two. War reporting today isn't meant to inform so much as it is to inflame the hearts of Americans. We, the audience, have fallen victim to our own 24/7 news cycle, lulled into parroting back the jingoisitc phrases of angry and arrogant  news organizations who view their knowledge as more perfect, their ideas as more brilliant and their motives as more pure than those elected to run the country - of either party.

At the heart of this unfortunate situation however is the estrangement of Americans from the governing institutions and the uniquely successful American processes that have stood the test of the first 225 years of the Republic. More newsworthy apparently than the efficacy of important issues of the day -- the war, the economy, the future of social security, the importance of finding a solution to the health care mess -- is the presumed sexual preference of a Senator or whether Britney Spears is too fat and too depraved to lip synch her way back to her status of entertainer in chief to a hoard of vacuous teenage Americans.

Where is the sense of shared sacrafice in our country?

What happened to shared responsibility of our multi-generational society?

Where is the collective spirit to move America forward as a force for Good?

Sixty years after World War Two, Americans are selfishly concerned more about their cultural icons - their designer clothes, MTV, and their 401Ks than the opportunity to contribute to the greater good of the country.

We should take a take a lesson from the selfless lives of American Soldier, sailors, Airmen and Marines who dedicate 4 years, 10 years, even 30 years of their lives to advance the cause of Freedom. We might be surprised how rich we'd become in the course of giving part of our own lives away.