Tuesday, August 02, 2005

All ye know on earth, and all ye need to know

A remark by General Jack Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army who consults on Iraq, started off a controversy about the size, nature and location of the enemy. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Lawrence Di Rita was recently questioned about Keane's remarks. A Department of Defense News transcript reports:

Q General Conway, General Jack Keane, the former vice chief of the Army has apparently just come back from Iraq. And he has said at a luncheon yesterday that U.S. forces had either captured or killed some 50,000 insurgents so far this year. Is that number accurate? Can you tell us how many were captured or how many were killed? And whether or not -- you know, what that says about the size of the insurgency?

GEN. CONWAY: I just saw the article this morning, and I accept the fact that General Keane has been in-country certainly since I have. I can't speak to his source of the figures. I can tell you that we don't keep that metric here. So I'm afraid I can't confirm or deny the accuracy of those figures.

Q Well, I mean -- U.S. forces are constantly rolling up -- and Iraqi forces are rolling up suspected insurgents. Some are held, some are released. Do you not -- can either one of you give us any idea of how many are being held now, and does the numbers seem reasonable? And setting the number aside for a moment, what does it say about the size of the insurgency if there have been numbers in that range?

MR. DI RITA: Well, you know, it's something that commanders have been asked on many occasions. I think the secretary has certainly been asked it. It's an interesting thing to understand, you know, what's the size of the adversary that we're facing. And the estimates have ranged from a few thousand on the low end to many tens of thousands on the high end -- this now -- this comment that General Keane has made. It's not a number that we do track. It's -- there is -- we are capturing or killing a large number of bad guys in Iraq. We are detaining a large number of people who are under investigation either as criminal elements or potential insurgents from whom we can gather additional information.

But, you know, we don't tend to count. Nobody's maintaining a count of the size of the insurgency or the numbers that we're capturing because, as we've discussed from here and elsewhere -- before Congress -- it's not a -- first of all, it's not a metric that has a lot of meaning by itself. And secondly, it's a difficult thing to do, and for the effort that would be expended, one would have to wonder what we'd have at the end of the day if we were able to count it with precision. ... 

Q General Keane also said that the U.S. has a pretty good idea of the leadership of the insurgency. He mentioned that eight to 10 leaders occasionally meet and that that was something that was known. Can you comment on that, and whether that's accurate? Is there a -- do you know if there's a core of eight to 10 leaders? Have they met?

GEN. CONWAY: I think those statements are accurate. We're starting to get into some classified type of material at this point. But we have an index, we think, on who the leadership is, and we do know that they occasionally meet. That doesn't portend, I think, other views that it is a very well commanded or controlled insurgency, but we do know that they meet from time to time to talk organization and tactics.

Keane amplified some of his views on the insurgency at a presentation at the Washington Institute, which provided the following summary of his remarks.

The Iraqi insurgency is overwhelmingly Sunni Arab based and can be divided into two main branches: former regime elements and Sunnis opposed to the occupation. The approximately 150,000 thugs and secret police from the former regime are the core of the problem. They have no political agenda for the country, nor are they fighting for a political ideology. Foreign terrorists constitute a small but critical part of the insurgency. Syria, which would like to see the Baath Party to return to power in Iraq, has made it a national objective to help the insurgency. As a result, the insurgents are well-financed and capable of maintaining a level of violence that creates instability and discourages reconstruction efforts. ...

Given the insurgents’ focus on provoking sectarian violence, the absence of all-out civil conflict is remarkable. Of note is the political maturity of the Kurds and Shiites, especially the remarkable restraint demonstrated by the latter in not retaliating on a large scale against Sunnis for attacks clearly calculated to foment civil war. Watching Ayatollah Ali Hussein al-Sistani deal with elements within his own community (e.g., Muqtada al-Sadr) has been instructive. Although civil war would be a tragedy, with immense costs, it would at least force a definitive outcome to the ongoing struggle in Iraq. But there are no signs of that happening at this time.

The best indicator of success in Iraq will be the political process. Many ministries and government institutions are effectively being rebuilt from scratch, and that takes time, particularly given the insurgency’s intimidation campaign. If the political transition is stymied, U.S. public support for the war will erode. That is the goal of the insurgents. They believe they can break the will of the American public as occurred during the Vietnam War, when a premature U.S. withdrawal led to military defeat. Indeed, if the United States withdraws from Iraq before the ISF is capable of sustaining itself, it would lose there as well. That, however, is not likely to happen.

Two other speakers, Francis West and Jeffrey White, (both former officials in Defense and intelligence) shared the podium with General Keane. The Washington Institute provided these excerpts of their speech.

West: 'When U.S. forces invaded, they avoided Sunni areas and thus never actually eliminated the Sunni Arab threat. ... The insurgents show no signs of weakening; in fact, they have begun to adopt tactics that are difficult for coalition forces to counter. These fighters learned their lesson in Falluja; they now favor bombs over direct attacks on coalition troops. They have also mastered the art of wrapping their efforts in religion. Accordingly, anti-sedition laws should be passed so that those who incite violence in mosques and schools can be held accountable. ... Regarding Syria, the country is essentially a safe haven for insurgents. The coalition should not allow this. Despite the many obstacles, victory is achievable. When will the coalition know it has won? The day an Iraqi soldier can sit on a bus in uniform and not worry about being a target.'

White: 'The United States has forced Sunni Arabs to make serious decisions about their future. Many of them now appear to be cooperating with the new Iraqi government and participating in the political process. ... The insurgency is growing in intensity and can be expected to continue at its current level for at least six to twelve months. It has endured despite coalition offensives designed explicitly to eliminate it. ... For example, it has reemerged in Falluja despite two major offensives that ostensibly eliminated the insurgent presence there. Even more disturbing, the insurgency enjoys popular support in Iraq. ... Overall, several signs indicate that a civil conflict is under way in Iraq; the Sunnis certainly seem to see it that way. As the ISF assumes more responsibility, the increased targeting of Sunnis in security operations will run an even greater risk of transforming the counterinsurgency into a war against Sunnis. The insurgents are obviously targeting Shiites, while the growing frequency of low-level attacks on Sunnis and the seizure of Sunni mosques indicate further escalation. Unfortunately, these sorts of situations tend to get worse. The upcoming referendum on the Iraqi constitution will give the insurgents a chance to inflict damage on the political process. They may find it easier to enforce a boycott than to compel Sunnis to vote their way. Once people are in the voting booths, the insurgents will not be able to prevent them from voting their conscience.'

(Personal note: I interpret the sentence attributed to Jeffrey White's that "the insurgency enjoys popular support in Iraq" to mean 'the insurgency is becoming or has become a Sunni national war' in the context of his overall depiction of the insurgency as a civil war between Sunni and Shi'ite. Clearly an insurgency which is actually a civil war cannot be gaining popularity among Shi'ites and Kurds as it is directed against them.)

One of the interesting implications of Keane's remarks and its subsequent press fallout, only fleetingly amplified by the forum at the Washington Institute, is how greatly politics has distorted the public face of operations in Iraq. It offers a momentary glimpse into the internal strategic debate. The remarks, let slip by Keane in a fit of supposed absentmindedness, suggest the US cannot admit to inflicting huge numbers of losses on enemy forces because it would imply the insurgency was bigger than earlier described -- at least to Congress. It hints at resistance to recognizing the belligerent role of Damascus. It indicates the Islamic religious establishment, at least of the Sunni variety, has become belligerent itself. It implies that politics prevents recognizing the 'insurgency' not as a struggle between 'Iraqis' and invading Americans, nor even a duel between Al Qaeda and America, but a civil war between Sunnis and Shi'ites and Kurds: in other words, between the ancien regime and a new client ethnic group supported by the US in lieu of the old masters.

(Speculation alert) It hints at the strategic decisions America has taken, not always with success. Direct attacks on Syria may have been vetoed in favor of efforts to detach the insurgency from its Syrian rear, such as Operation Matador. The US apparently continues to build a workable Iraqi unitary state despite the temptation to unleash the Shi'ites on the Sunnis. ('Although civil war would be a tragedy, with immense costs, it would at least force a definitive outcome to the ongoing struggle in Iraq.' -- Keane) America tries not to tar Islam, or even certain sects of Islam, with the brush of terrorism, despite open incitements in mosques. ('anti-sedition laws should be passed so that those who incite violence in mosques and schools can be held accountable.' -- West). Yet the Iraqi operation is adjudged winnable despite these limitations. ('Indeed, if the United States withdraws from Iraq before the ISF is capable of sustaining itself, it would lose there as well. That, however, is not likely to happen.' -- Keane. 'Despite the many obstacles, victory is achievable.' -- West. 'Once people are in the voting booths, the insurgents will not be able to prevent them from voting their conscience.' -- White).

But what sort of victory would it be? Perhaps a shadow victory like that achieved in Korea 50 years ago. A Syria belligerent but not really; Islam still the 'religion of peace' -- whenever it is not inciting attacks against America; Bin Laden in Pakistan but only when he is actually spotted; an Iran with nuclear weapons which they will be bribed not to use. A West partially mobilized against enemies it cannot bring itself to name or destroy, a display of aggression from the civilized herd to prevent further attack from the circling pack of predators serving in lieu. Iraq dozing in an uneasy peace. An act of faith really; faith that things will work out if only we can keep the world spinning on its axis.

120 Comments:

Blogger Monty said...

I think the administration fears attacking Syria at this point because it would essentially give us two basket-cases to deal with instead of only one (Iraq). The only meaningful strike against Syria would be a decapitation strike, and we'd have the same situation in Syria that we now have in the Sunni Triangle. In fact, the situation might be worse because Sunnis comprise about 70% of the population, as opposed to about 30% in Iraq. The Sunni population would almost certainly be opposed to any US attack, and would either actively oppose us or give aid and comfort to our opponents.

Much of what happens now is out of our hands. It's clear that the war plan for now is mainly political: helping the Iraqis to form a popularly-elected government and to rebuild their civil society. Our military is there to further that end. However, this plan could easily be trumped: if Iran goes nuclear, if Israel attacks Iran's nuclear sites, if there is an Islamic coup in Turkey (not all that far-fetched).

Iraq is a test-case for the theory that Arabs can form and maintain a democratic government without being torn apart by tribal and sectarian violence. If this test-case fails, I think the Arab world is in for a rude shock, for this will not mean the end of American military intervention there -- it simply means that we will spend much less effort in fixing things that our military breaks. We view Arab democracy in the light of our own self-interest; our altruism stops beyond a certain point.

8/02/2005 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Unfortunately, the world you describe in your last paragraph reflects the normal state of affairs for Mankind since just about forever.
The holiday world of the 1990's, in which all the wolves and bears had been killed and we could let the children play in the woods without fear was an aberation. And upon reflection we know now that it was more an illusion than an aberation.

8/02/2005 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

The destruction of our enemy is withheld only because of the restraint of the United States. But for how long? How long before the hammer drops and we cease caring about what comes after?

In a way it is irrational to wait for the big event that will push us over the edge. We are going to pay dearly in blood to see the next level of this conflict, if we don't climb that ladder ourselves.

But on the other hand, perhaps it is necessary to wait for night to fall. Maybe that way we will be able to live with ourselves, afterwards.

8/02/2005 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Arisitides, what particular enemy are you referring to? How would we unshackle our restraints and take them out? Are you suggesting a 'big event' will percipitate our killing all Muslims? or just all the people in Iraq...Syria...Iran? What are you talking about? It sounds as if you are lunging at windmills in the dark.

8/02/2005 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Does this conversation foreshadow the inevitability of internecine warfare in Iraq?
Without isolating the enemy, security will never be achieved in Iraq. Syria, Iran, and the Sunnis make up a broader triangle than what was once perceived. Does the US have the where-with-all to isolate the conflict to the borders of Iraq, and if so, how will combating a predominately Sunni insurrection ever manifest itself as anything but civil strife. The only possibility lies in the pulpit of the mosque and more particularly, in the mind of the religious leaders themselves. But one can imagine that Islam itself offers no peaceful solution to the problem.

'anti-sedition laws should be passed so that those who incite violence in mosques and schools can be held accountable.'

This is a message that should be resonating across the globe. It seems like a message that France already understands. The British are certainly mulling their options. The US has sedition laws on the book, but it will be necessary to consider the greater good when our adversaries cloak global Jihad in religious freedom. Either way we can not expect to win this war without isolating our enemies and if we cannot accomplish this at home it really casts the die of failure.

Exerpts from the latest National Intelligence Estimate of Iran are not promising with mealy mouthed comments like this: “The administration keeps "hoping the mullahs will leave before Iran gets a nuclear weapons capability," said an official familiar with policy discussions.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/
wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/01/
AR2005080101453_pf.html

8/02/2005 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

The enemy is irrationality, entropy, and chaos. And it will be purchased by some large event that will cause mass casualties in the United States. After that, events will lead themselves; reason will be overwhelmed, and consequences will multiply.

And afterwards? A toast to the men we once were, and a prayer for the dead.

8/02/2005 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

It sounds as if you are lunging at windmills in the dark.

Hardly lunging yet. More like simply recognizing that 1) it may soon become dark; 2) while there are windmills, there are also dragons; and 3) in the darkness both will be lunged at with equal ferocity and equally devastating consequences.

8/02/2005 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Rick Ballard said...

If I'm interpreting the CIA Factbook correctly about 60K non-Kurdish Sunni males reach military age each year. The total pool of non-Kurdish Sunni males of military age appears to be 990K and we are killing them (according to the General's quote) at about 21K per year.

It appears that we will be able to conduct live fire training exercises in the four Sunni provinces for as long as we are prepared to pay about 780 KIA and 8K WIA annually.

The ratio isn't good enough. We need a change in the ROE that lifts the enemy KIA into the 40K annual range in order to get this over with. That or get the Iraqis to substitute for at least 50% of our casualties.

As it sits now, the bloody grinder is running too slowly.

8/02/2005 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Early on, I admired the clarity of the Pentagon, back when the foe was Afghanistan's Taliban and the "evildoers". There were no precise enemy counts, but Tori Clarke & the Old Rumsfeld pointed to cities we had taken, where the concentrations of enemy still remained - and how we were killing them.

I still love thinking about those early moments as reporters locked in a Vietnam midset were so beaten up for dumb questions answered directly and honestly that they were more nervous than the Pentagon team.

"Why are you bombing the Taliban positions?" "To kill them." "Why is it necessary to kill them?" "Because they are the enemy. You kill the enemy." "In fact, we cleared out a town 60 miles to the south or Herat the other day with the Northern Alliance and a 5-man special forces team managed, with air power to destroy an enemy counterattack and kill over 500 fighters."

Now we get this sort of masterpiece in bureaucratic BS from PR hack DiRita

Nobody's maintaining a count of the size of the insurgency or the numbers that we're capturing because, as we've discussed from here and elsewhere -- before Congress -- it's not a -- first of all, it's not a metric that has a lot of meaning by itself. And secondly, it's a difficult thing to do, and for the effort that would be expended, one would have to wonder what we'd have at the end of the day if we were able to count it with precision. ..

I could see US Grant or Eisenhower or MacArthur strangling a DiRita type briefer telling Lincoln or FDR that measuring enemy strength is "not a meaningful metric in itself".

Or Truman ordering an idiot like that shot, only to be told once again "You Can't DO THAT, HARRY!!for a DiRita saying:

"Well, its a lot of effort to measure the size of the insurgency and the Chinese divisions deployed and count the numbers captured and killed because one would wonder what we would have at the end of the day vis a vis the Korean situation, if it was able to be gauged with precision".

As if enemy strength, order of battle, strategic resources coming into theater, and attrition numbers are of no interest!!

I've lost confidence in the CHeney-Rumsfeld Axis, their loyal conservative ideologue civilian minions at the WH and Pentagon, and most of all in the career track military Brass who break liplock on Rumsfeld's hindquarters only long enough to salute smartly and say thay they absolutely don't need more troops to hold towns, or guard the unguarded Syrian Border.

We have a botched post-war, the bumbling counter-insurgency, the coalition of the wiling slipping away, the idea that the democratic Iraq will be a secular state is slipping away, we have burned out Reservist eligibility and face a 2006 wall w/o a Bush declaration of National Emergency, a BRAC process that is shaping up to be a total abortion, and growing feeling Bush and the Pentagon are not being straight with Congress or the public about Iraq.


My step-nephew has just finished his 2nd combat tour in Iraq. He is proud of what he has done, but over the last year become convinced that little but lies come from senior officers when they relay down the politics and strategy of the situation. Already he knows with 10 months left on his enlistment that a 3rd combat tour will happen 9 months from now and involuntarily extend his enlistment by up to a year. He has turned down shots offered to him for Spec Ops or OCS. After his 1st tour, he was hot on both and thought of a 20-year career. No more!

8/02/2005 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Monty,
I agree with everything except for the "meaningful strike" portion of your post. I think that whatever pressure has been applied to Syria up to this point has (obviously) not been sufficient. The next step would be to tell them that either you stop supporting terrorists/allowing them to operate freely from your nation, or we will start striking the suspected terrorist facilities within Syrian borders. And then follow through on that-it would not have to be a decapitation strike; after a few attacks they would get the message. If they don't, then you move on to the decapitation phase. But the fact that they left Lebanon relatively peaceably shows me that they can do sensible analysis of the situation.

8/02/2005 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...cannot admit to inflicting huge numbers of losses on enemy forces ...

Isn't it more likely to be a PR decision, that if we admitted that we've killed 50,000 or more Arabs and they've killed 1,500 Americans, we'd be accused of massacre? The same sort of shooting-fish-in-a-barrel massacre of unknowing illiterates as we think of now when we consider the 7th Cavalary going after Geronimo.

Remember, too, the game the Palestinians have taught the world when they claim 500 dead in the "Jenin Massacre" that never happened.

The EU or MSM or Looney Liberal Left will never stop to consider that those 50,000 were shooting at Americans when they were killed -- they'll just throw their heads back and start bellowing about the white soldiers killing off the poor ignorant brown people. And invading their country to do it, too!

8/02/2005 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Harkonnendog said...

I think victory will be of another kind, because I have another kind of faith. I have faith that a democracy will tranfrom Iraq, and Iraq being a democracy will transform the country.

8/02/2005 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Aristides:
In raising the issue of our "restraint," you rather obliquely raise once more the old question of "what should we have done" to defeat the insurgency before it began.
The Left also raises this issue with its frequent accusations of a "failure to plan for the aftermath of the war."
The only solution I have come up with is massive camps in remote desert areas in which we would incarcerate as many people as would be required to solve the problem. If that is 95% of the Sunni population of Iraq, then so be it.
I have no other answer, but have heard no one else with any kind of a realistic answer at all.

8/02/2005 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Westhawk said...

What to do about Syrian sanctuaries? Mr. Rumsfeld hinted at it during his press conference in Baghdad last week with the Iraqi PM. He urged the Iraqis themselves to become much more forceful with Syria and Iran about border problems.

Syrian sanctuaries holding combatants fighting against Iraq is not a murky, tedious legal issue to be debated in a graduate seminar. It's a clear, old-fashioned, state-on-state act of war. In 2006, the Iraqi army will be large and capable. After a proper demarche, it can move, with U.S. support, into Syrian border encampments 100 kilometers deep if necessary. Why not?

The U.S. will remove virtually all of its maneuver brigades from Iraq in 2006, and continue the war, civil or otherwise, with Iraqi soldiers and U.S. advisors. As we have suggested in our posts, that is the model by which the U.S. should pursue future engagements. The DoD needs to retool the USA and USMC to be ready for this method.

Westhawk

8/02/2005 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

In raising the issue of our "restraint," you rather obliquely raise once more the old question of "what should we have done" to defeat the insurgency before it began.

Wage total war not only upon Iraq's cities and countryside but against the cities, land, and people of the entire Arab Middle East; destroy their cities, destroy their livelihoods and food supply; seize the oil fields to cut off all cash flow. Send all of them, terrorists, insurgents, innocents, men, women, and children, scurrying across the desert in search of refuge; allow them to find none. Salt the earth. When they and their children are dehydrated, starving, penniless, and emaciated, wholly unable to buy relief through violence, money, labor, or charity, they will submit- or they will simply die. They will have no other choice.

...

This is obviously an impossible and unacceptable measure for many reasons. In today's geopolitical climate- especially taking into account the volatility of Arab Muslims- an insurgency was inevitable.

8/02/2005 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

Interesting post.

I still think victory is ours if we will it. Nothing on the ground in Iraq can defeat us.

The terrorist/insurgents are fighting a loosing battle. They don't have the ability to face U.S. forces. They don't have the ability to face Iraqi Security Forces. There primary means of continuing the struggle is to detonate roadside bombs and facilitate suicide attacks against soft targets. That is not a means to achieve victory. The opposite is already happening: that is, Iraqi civilians are turning in terrorist/insurgents in greater numbers. The most important factor indicating the terrorist/insurgents will lose is thier lack of atractive political ideas and figures.

We must not flag or fail. We must continue the fight. We must train Iraqi's to defend themselves. We must provide the equipment so they can succeed. We must stay engaged even as we drawdown our military capabilities in theater.

American media reports focused on the negative have the effect, not necessarily intentional, of sapping our will to victory. In the short term we question our progress. We doubt our ability. We wonder why we are there in the first place.

But all of those doubts are only fleeting impressions. American core strength is not broken. Americans intuitively know that we will succeed.

Success in this case can be defined as standing up a new Iraqi government. Helping that government create a new Iraqi constitution. Not demanding that the Iraqi form of government be identical to ours. Creating a standing army capable of defending itself and the new government. In short giving the Iraqi's a fair chance at a new life.

In so doing we may incite positive change throughout the middle east. Early signs of positive change are already visible.

These goals are in the best tradition of America.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

8/02/2005 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger danzig665 said...

Corporate bloggers act as online outlets for company info
DALLAS - If you can't beat `em, hire `em. That emerging marketing strategy is creating a new career: corporate bloggers.
Ted
my articles: free articles

8/02/2005 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger sunguh5307 said...

re: cedarford and the 'poor postwar planning meme'

You are probably right, mistakes have been made. You happy? I'll bet I can go find linkage to Rumsfeld saying that in Congress. But what could Cheney-Rumsfeld say to make you happy, short of "We are stupid idiots and Bush is the devil, let's pull out of Iraq this very minute so someone like John Kerry save the day."

Am I misjudging you? If so, let me apologize and you can explain the perfect way to wage war. Or maybe your step-nephew can.

In the meantime, I'll just put my $.02 in and say that it's good we don't have 'military efficiency'. DiRita is a good guy, but do you really want a slick Pentagon PR machine controlling the information? I've worked there and it's messy. I sympathize with the soldiers who are out there wanting to kick down the doors of all the lying bastards in the region but understand it's not what you do that's important, but what you can hold and support. This applies politically as well as militarily and logistically. A possible civil war would be real efficiency- get them to do it for us. But we are restrained and are restraining them because 'efficiency', also named as the dynamic 'momentum' can be as dangerous as passivity.

War planners and strategists have to constantly balance this- we are simply not ready for the real onslaught to be unleashed. And let's pray that it never does.

8/02/2005 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

I wonder if the terrorists have adopted a strategy I call "rotation". They base and stockpile in the quiet areas for future strikes nearby or contemporary strikes elsewhere. Consider one of the huge busts Michael Yon recently reported in Mosul: the terrorists were stockpiling for the next elections, at the end of the year.

Either way, local lulls mean less scrutiny and patrols by Iraqi and U.S. forces. Part of the solution seems to be to scrutinize "peaceful" zones for unusual activity ("Why are so many trucks heading for that farm?") and not get fooled by lulls into thinking the terrorists are defeated, not resting.

8/02/2005 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I think engaging the Iraqi people, as many as possible of whatever religious/ethnic makeup, is key: engaging them in the idea that democratic Iraq is their right and their home. (Of course, the more Sunnis you can get on the "gpood" side, the better - but I'd take a plain supermajority of whatever stripe if that's all I was offered.) Israel will never give in to Palestinian terrorists because Israelis are utterly certain of their right to exist, how and where they are. Iraqis, if they can become as sure as that, will be as resolute as the Israelis and will be unable to be defeated by a terrorist mini-minority. They may have to continue to live with terrorist acts, as Israel does, but they won't be hostage to such acts.

IOW, continue to marginalize those who commit acts of terror against innocent Iraqis. The terrorists are lending a hand by continuing to choose the targets they seem to choose, in-country. If Iraqis adopt and own the democratic process, American resolve will be less important. (Though I continue to hope and pray that both parties put up unapologetic hawks in 2008 - maybe the Dems can dig somebody up.)

8/02/2005 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Doug Santo writes:

I still think victory is ours if we will it. Nothing on the ground in Iraq can defeat us.......
The terrorist/insurgents are fighting a loosing battle. They don't have the ability to face U.S. forces. They don't have the ability to face Iraqi Security Forces.......But all of those doubts are only fleeting impressions. American core strength is not broken. Americans intuitively know that we will succeed.


Some excerpts from the Marines at Ramadi that go against neocon Gung Ho, rah-rah talk. The disconnect between Cheney, Pentagon "feel-good" talk and Marine talk is sobering.

Since the battalion arrived in March, insurgents in Ramadi have detonated 175 roadside bombs. Ten Marines have been killed.

"They kill us. We kill them," Col. Smith says grimly. He could easily use two more battalions of about 850 Marines each, he says...... the Marines have incrementally brought limited security to Ramadi. They do this by aggressively sending out daily and hazardous "presence" patrols, on foot or in armored vehicles. The official acronym for this work is Security and Stability Operations, or SASO.Marines call it "SASO World" and see it as anything but secure. "SASO World is 10 times scarier than any offensive".

"As soon as you leave the gate, it's game on," says Marine Capt. Kelsey "Kelly" Thompson, 36, of Shallowater, Texas. He commands Alpha Company, the unit in which Welter serves. The company has suffered more casualties than any other in the battalion.


"I don't think the Battle of Ramadi can ever be won," Thompson says. "I just think the Battle of Ramadi has to be fought every day." Marine Reserve Maj. Benjamin Busch, an actor in civilian life who plays Detective Anthony Colicchio on the HBO series The Wire, agrees: "We're going to be continually hunted here until we leave."

During their first tour, Welter and his unit were greeted as liberators. During the second, they fought a growing rebellion. Now, on the third, many say they are angry to be back, shaken by the loss of more friends and feeling old beyond their years......Evidence of victory is scant, those interviewed by the newspaper say. Some are stunned that, after all the sacrifices they and others have made, so many Iraqis now seem to hate them.....Alpha Company provides security, and platoons alternate four-day shifts here. It is a break from the risky patrols, and it offers time to reflect. On a moonless night, in the blackness of a watch tower, Welter says that if he survives this tour, his duty to the nation is done. "Three deployments is my hit," he says. "And $20,000 re-up tax-free isn't enough for me to come back here again."

Link:

http://cnn.netscape.cnn.com/ns/news/story.jsp?idq=/ff/story/0055%2F20050730%2F0711122863.htm&photoid=20050720BAG01D&brand=usatoday&ewp=ewp_news_0805iraq_marines

8/02/2005 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Roy Lofquist said...

We must not lose sight of the single fundamental reason that we are engaged in this conflict: to prevent attacks on the United States. So far we are batting 1000.

This is not a war. A war involves identifiable groups or states. It is much more like organized crime, which requires a law enforcement solution.

The United States cannot enforce law in other states. The US strategy is to force other states to control their own populations. To date this strategy has worked perfectly. No US target has been attacked by elements associated with Al Queada or similar groups.

The tactics to implement this strategy are to scare the living beejeesus out of the offending governments. We dropped 2 on Japan to emphasize our point. We have toppled the govenments of Afghanistan and Iraq. Nothing other than fear can explain the behavior of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iran and Syria.

We have given them a choice: constrain your own people or face an unbeatable, implaccable foe.

All of these governments are faced with truly daunting problems. If they make mistakes they will either die at the hands of the devils of their own making or face the US with enormous forces on the ground at their borders.

It will take time, probably a long time, but we are most certainly winning. The ideal solution is peace and democracy in tha Arab world. But that is not necessary to our prime objective: prevent attacks on us.

8/02/2005 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Nathan: Excatly. But since the Roman answer to the problem of Carthage is not an option we are prepared to implement, the concentration camps look like the only remotely acceptable alternative to what we are doing now. Of course, that approach would be far less accceptable to the Left than what we are doing today. Witness the hysteria over the killers we pamper at Gitmo.
I also have little doubt that once we handed the keys of said camps to the "good" Iraqis and Kurds that they would become Buchenwalds, and that would be on our heads as well.

8/02/2005 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Honestly, I'm reminded of that Jaws film, where we see the extent of the opposition. We're gonna need a bigger boat.

Another one of those aforementioned mistakes, we should have beefed up the Army long ago. Not that it is over, but overconfidence hurt us badly, perhaps fatally. Although I'm a Rumsfield fan, that can be laid right at his feet.

8/02/2005 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

I agree with you Helo about Syria, the current situation cannot continue.

We're going to immediately see cries of "Cambodia!" but it seems necessary nonetheless.

8/02/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Cedarford:

What "disconnect"? Who is "disconnected"?

Read this: U.S. Marine General says, "The Name of the Game was Whoop-Ass!"

8/02/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

cederford says -

"Some excerpts from the Marines at Ramadi that go against neocon Gung Ho, rah-rah talk. The disconnect between Cheney, Pentagon "feel-good" talk and Marine talk is sobering."

I would not call my post neocon, gung ho, rah rah talk. I would call it a big picture analysis of the situation on the ground.

Marines fight and some die. This is the cost of war. If Cederford thinks the goal is not worth it and we should withdraw our troops he should so state.

If Cederford thinks Marine chatter from the ranks is the overriding factor with respect to American strategic or tactical decisions, I think he is confused.

I had previously read the segments linked in Cederford's post. I have also read many other in-country posts from other Marines that paint a much better picture.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

8/02/2005 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

If we pull out prematurely then GWB will end up being a hero, because then the attacks on the US by freshly emboldened Islamists will resume and intensify, and the point of the war will become retrospectively obvious to all.

8/02/2005 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

meme chose, in politics nothing is "retrospectively obvious".

8/02/2005 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Buffy said...

It is part of being a soldier to gripe about the brass and the high command. That is part of the job. Once you place yourself in the hands of the military apparatus, you know how little power you have over your own fate. Griping about the brass is simply one way of dealing with that nagging sense of insecurity.

The larger issue, the need to make the jihadis and terrorists feel a lot more pain, remains. The pain, death, and devastation must reach from the jihadis in Iraq, back through the infiltration routes in Syria, Iran, Jordan, and SA, all the way back to the hometowns and families of the jihadis. Jihad must come to equal death, devastation, and total despair to young muslims and their families. Else this will be a long painful war for the entire world.

8/02/2005 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

rwe: "The only solution I have come up with is massive camps in remote desert areas in which we would incarcerate as many people as would be required to solve the problem. If that is 95% of the Sunni population of Iraq, then so be it."

I've thought about it long and hard, and I have no good answers. The Leftist dodge of more troops on the ground and "no plan" rings true in some parts, but not in the way they mean it. Our biggest strategic mistake was going to the UN for a year, giving Saddam and Al'Qaeda time to plan the insurgency.

More troops on the border I can see, and I have to think it would have helped. But more troops in the cities would have been madness. Giant "reeducation camps" make sense to me, but in the end I think Iraq is going to have to work out its own problems in that respect.

The restraint I referred to is our response to the pressure of the anti-war camps. The banshee shriek from the Left when the US exercised her might clouded the good judgment of the Administration, and at a time when momentum was clearly on our side. The case against Syria should be made publically, forcefully, and often, and if Assad doesn't change his ways, swift punitive action should be visited upon his head. Let the Syrians worry about their next regime. All I care about is the decapitation of a government so willfully fighting against us. You can bet the next Syrian administration would walk a little lighter around us.

But, on the other hand, perhaps we are building up Iraq's army and collecting incontrovertible data so that Iraq will make the case for retribution.

All I know is that lately we have used the velvet glove but have forgotten to include the iron fist. As Wretchard says, it seems like we are hoping time is on our side.

8/02/2005 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Flavius Heraclius Augustus said...

The best we can hope for is a holding action as long as we in the West refuse to name the enemy.

8/02/2005 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Sunguh5307 -

But what could Cheney-Rumsfeld say to make you happy, short of "We are stupid idiots and Bush is the devil, let's pull out of Iraq this very minute so someone like John Kerry save the day."

Am I misjudging you? If so, let me apologize and you can explain the perfect way to wage war. Or maybe your step-nephew can.

No one is expecting perfection, so stop demanding others explain to you a perfect solution that doesn't exist.

But there are significant present problems:

1. A growing sense that members of the Bush Administration are not being as straight with the public on Iraq as they were about military operations in Afghanistan. That as the years since 9/11 roll by, honesty and clarity are being lost. Which impacts public TRUST.

2. That the Administration only stubbornly and years after the fact acknowledges major blunders and only then....slowly changes course, while minimizing the impact of the original blunders.

3. That top military are sending one message "plenty of troops and resources" while ground commanders who are thought to be risking career advancement by stating their forces are inadequate are dismissed as "typical grousers" until lack of manpower or material reaches a "HUMVEE armor-type" crisis. There is a growing feeling in Congress that Top Generals are cowed and dutifully giving the Official Pentagon Party line.

but understand it's not what you do that's important, but what you can hold and support.

This applies politically as well as militarily and logistically. A possible civil war would be real efficiency- get them to do it for us. But we are restrained and are restraining them because 'efficiency', also named as the dynamic 'momentum' can be as dangerous as passivity.

After reading those 2 quotes, I have no doubt you worked in the Pentagon PR machine, as you claimed. Nor do I have any doubt of the growing disconnect between the reasons for the Iraq War and the reality of what is taking shape - despite all the official denials - and it's impact on the American public's willingness to engage in any further military adventures until credibility is restored and confidence that the Pentagon leadership actually knows what it is doing is regained..

8/02/2005 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger Rick Ballard said...

Doug Santos,

The effective measure is reenlistment rates in the combat units which have been in action. They are surprisingly good. Reenlistment rates among support personnel are problematic - mainly because they didn't sign up as shooters and are a bit more antipathetic to being blown up by IED's. Very understandable.

Shooter's reenlistment rates (and the rate of volunteers for shooters jobs) are the only measure that matters. Troops are undoubtedly bitching - but if things are so damn bad why are they reenlisting?

America possesses the best trained and protected killers seen in the history of the world. Change the ROE and see how long the "resistance" by Sunni thugs lasts. Better yet, provide full support to a brigade of dedicated Iraqis in reducing Ramadi and see how long it lasts. No advance warning and the civs who have provided comfort to the Iraqi traitors get the Sherman/Atlanta treatment.

Wars fought on a PC basis last longer and do more ultimate damage than do wars fought with efficient brutality. Bring Carthage to Ramadi - it's the humane thing to do.

8/02/2005 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Aristides:
We have to face the fact that however unpopular the reducation camps would be with the Left, they would be more unpopular with the enemy.
The mere creation of them might go a long way toward solving the problem.
Then again, the camps might inspire some additional insurgency, but I doubt it.
They certainly would inspire more outrage from the Left, ... but Big Freakin' Deal, so what? As you point out, listening to them has not yielded results useful in any respect - including quieting them down.
And if Free Iraq devises a "final solution" to the problem of Bathists and Sunnis, then, as you say, that is their business.

8/02/2005 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Rick Ballard:

Brutality is one thing, betrayal another. Carthage surrendered to the Romans but was torched anyway, its civilian population murdered or (if lucky) enslaved, and the ground sown with salt.

And it the GWOT, such measures might not be fully effective, anyway. The big fish might get away, and could we ever do such a thing twice?

8/02/2005 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

Cutler, that marvelous line has occurred to at least a few.

After a depressing (to me) conversation with an "old soldier" just prior to the elections in Iraq - I had asked what he thought would happen after those elections and he put on his "planner's hat" and gave a layout I was not at all happy to hear - he remarked to no one in particular but perhaps himself, "Go big or go home."

It's not a universal absolute. Just, in his estimation, an absolute for Iraq.

8/02/2005 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Cedarford,

I think you are right in calling out the Pentagon, in a way, but Iraqi problems are too heavy to hang around just our necks.

We telegraphed the Iraq war for an entire year. Saddam was, and Al'Qaeda and the Baathists are, a thinking enemy, and they are working against us actively and dynamically. Not that I am saying your opinion is superficial, but something else you must take into account is the fact that the terrorist attacks are targetted specifically to bring about the reactions we see in the media everyday. They are a performance for the American media consumer, and the coverage skews their real effect.

I believe an unintended consequence of the Al'Qaeda and Baathist atrocities will be the creation of an Iraqi national narrative: the immense heat of the fire will forge a more solid foundation than we ever could have done ourselves. Put another way, our mistakes and Al'Qaeda's depravity may give us a victory that otherwise would have been forever out of our reach.

That is a best case scenario, but it is possible. I am confident in Iraq's future. It is the rest of the war that I am concerned about.

8/02/2005 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Rick Ballard said...

solomon2,

I did not suggest a Carthaginian solution imposed by US troops but by Iraqis. Anyway, I favor Atlanta as a model rather than Carthage.

Some of these idiots continue to think that we are joking - and they think that because their families arent suffering. These Sunni thugs (and their tribes) have been playing this kind of game for thirty-five years. Uncle Saddy hired them to terrorize Shi'a and now Uncle Saddy's buddys hire them to do the same. They are the brigand/bandit class that Mohammed wrote the Koran to idolize. Were they and their tribes exterminated overnight, the sun would shine brighter on the morrow.

They really need to know that we deeply believe that in order for them to lay down their arms - for a while. It's been done before, it needs to be done now, and it will probably need to be done one more time before the oil wells go dry.

This ain't rocket science, no matter how hard we try to make it so. These are sand pirates, brigands and banditti - no quarter has been earned and no quarter should be given. Sound the Deguello and get it over with.

8/02/2005 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

By the way, this is why we will win (re: the post, and the discussion).

Wretchard has created, and continues to produce, inestimable value online, in the best tradition of America. An informed citizenry is a victorious citizenry.

8/02/2005 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

It's not a universal absolute. Just, in his estimation, an absolute for Iraq...

And there's no going back to the point of decision and beginning again. We are headlong into an unfortunate outcome.

8/02/2005 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Rick Ballard said...

aristedes,

I agree completely. So how much did you send via PayPal? I'm going to start using a monthly payment system of $10 bucks. I've sent in a few months worth already but I need help in making it a habit.

Maybe the 10th should be "Hit PayPal for Wretchard Day"

Couldn't hurt.

8/02/2005 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Rick,

That, I will keep close to the vest. But your sentiments are right on the money. (I know, I know...puns.)

8/02/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Cedarford,

I wonder if you have it the other way around. We are getting as much war, and the kind of war, that our political system will allow. Why guard the Syrian border when we are at peace with Damascus? Even in the months immediately after the fall of Baghdad, the Marines, who took over from the Army in Qusabayah found they were in the middle of a 'secret war' with Syria. It's still 'secret' in the most absurd possible sense. And that's just Syria. As to the other issues ...

There will be those who will say 'I never drank because the President did not lead me to water'. Which President was that? The one narrowly elected in 2004 or the other candidate for whom nearly half of America voted? Policy confusions in Iraq mirror those at home and they will only be resolved in Iraq when they are resolved at home.

In Australia, John Howard is coming under critcism for assuming he could fight a purely "special forces" war. The Australian strategy had no political dimension at all. Jack Straw in Britain was just quoted as calling the British occupation of southern Iraq 'part of the problem'. As for the United Nations, they were blown up one fine day and never seen again. One of these years it will get around to defining "terrorism".

In the last analysis, the Sunnis will fail at their goal to reinstate antebellum Iraq simply because they can never generate enough combat power to resubjugate the Shi'ites and the Kurds. They cannot beat the US. They are not even trying any more, at least according to Keane, et al, who seem to think the game is now 'civil war'. He seems to think (or so I believe) that the US will 'win' and perhaps this will be due in the end to being less muddled than the enemy.

8/02/2005 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I read those comments from Larry Di Rita and Gen. Conway regarding Retired Gen. Keane "50,000" captured figure a few days ago. I could not find the full text of Gen. Keane (without the whole text his meaning can be twisted for political purposes). But, if you carefully read what Di Rita and Conway said they believe at any given time 12,000 to 17,000 prisoners are being held. This doesn't count flow through factor (Di Rita's number is akin to a balance sheet number, Keane's number is like a gross revenue - it contains thieves and others who are released).

Di Rita is then ask if he is frustrated with retired Generals making public statement which he cleverly deflects with "...Come on, you guys!... They're all entitled to their views. They've served their country well. They're retired -- a lot of these retired general officers are indeed employed in the service of the people who are paying them for their views. But they're entitled to have their views, and we take those as they come. General Keane has made his comments, but General Keane's comments are based on travel to the region. He's a member of the Defense Policy Board. This is not by means of trying to give any validity to his statement, because I just don't know what he said and what it was based on..."

Will note that General Conway sees Syria as a major staging point for insurgents. I agree with him. I have advocated eliminating this base by force (this is a war by proxy and there are no boarders - the enemy is clearly not respecting boarders why should we - why not end the war a quickly as possible). But, Rumsfeld has noted that the White house would make the decision to use force on Syria. Rumsfeld is not in a position to do so without the President's authorization.

8/02/2005 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Cedarford,

"During their first tour, Welter and his unit were greeted as liberators. During the second, they fought a growing rebellion. Now, on the third, many say they are angry to be back, shaken by the loss of more friends and feeling old beyond their years."

One of the points Keane et al make is that Sunni areas were not reduced or hit in the beginning, in part due Turkey's blocking the 4ID, but later probably due to US policy. There was some doubt early on over whether a 'de-Ba'athification' would take place. But at some point it became clear that the US was going to go beyond Saddam and rework the entire basis of the Iraqi state. Millions of Sunnis, some used to absolute power, would not only lose power, but the possibility of power, with the oil wells in Kuridish or Shi'ite hands. It was, as Keane et al say, a slow motion declaration of war against the Sunnis, without being attended by a parallel process of reduction. 'Leave them undisturbed but make them angry' was the policy.

More troops would always be useful, but you can continue to do stupid things for longer if you have more resources. The key is to do the smart thing. But I am a little bit worried that the 'smart thing' is beyond our grasp because it is getting harder to have a rational debate on the subject any more. It's the dynamic of the Dreyfuss affair. Each side obstinate for their own reasons so that the guilt of the man became beside the point. The campaign in Iraq has been a huge success in many ways; but it also has real defects which you and others, have pointed out. But who dares point out the defect? Who dares trumpet the success?

8/02/2005 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"The key is to do the smart thing. But I am a little bit worried that the 'smart thing' is beyond our grasp because it is getting harder to have a rational debate on the subject any more."

Bears repeating.

8/02/2005 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hugh recommends Froggy Ruminations for moving piece from LA.

8/02/2005 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/02/2005 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/02/2005 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Honestly, I don't even talk to people about Iraq anymore. There's so many red herrings mixed with legitimate criticisms, myths, flat out ignorance [on both left and right], that is hard to even find a starting point with most people. Nothing extraordinary about that, few people have the time to dedicate to following this stuff.

We've been debating this for 3-4 years, the majority of the people either backing or supporting this effort are relying on occasional newspapers, network news, and the drama-thon of the day on CNN or Fox.

It is near impossible to even find a place to start in conversations with non-news junkies, left or right. The government is in a position similar, hence we're left with "stay the course," the lowest common denominator. One that doesn't leave much room for rapid changes like "beat Syria over the head" or "civil war."

Just mho.

8/02/2005 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"either backing or supporting"

Sorry, that should be, backing or opposing.

8/02/2005 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger sunguh5307 said...

re: inability to rationally discuss Iraq, Cutler

Yeah, I hate it. My buddies in school or here in the U.S. are totally isolated, but my friends from the service are going back and forth. The worst part is the disconnect and the complete lack of similar frames of reference. Me, bouncing between both worlds, you can see it but it's kind of like yelling through sound-proof glass. Then you see all that accumulating literature on civil-military disconnect.

There are many positive trends here. We are building the most experienced and trained overall military here with units jumping in and out of the sandbox and hills of Afghanistan, but this time they're getting the opportunity to tell it in a different way. And we have this amazing forum here.

Whatever. As most know, all those countries are on the plate and some have been served orders. We'll see what happens and how much leeway the warfighters get, I agree totally with the ROE comments. I could go on about those... but it's going to take a big shift to do that. The UN and our 'modern' conceptions of human rights are all tied up in that and I don't think we're ready for that change yet.

8/02/2005 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/02/2005 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

There are plenty of thugs in that area to be playing them off each other. Start arming these guys with light weapons and have them go at each other. Whoever wins, promise them political support while they behave. If they misbehave withdraw that political support and start agitating for the next thug in line to take over. That's how I would deal with Syria. Keep it busy, while we're busy with bigger fish.

The bigger fish are Iran and Saudia. Saudia, for obvious reasons, needs to be tackled last. So Iran is it. We have about 3-4 years before Iran has nukes. I'd start with economic sanctions ASAP so as to have the people start agitating for change. The Mullas need be seen as impotent, and economic sanctions are the perfect way to go about it. Once this image of impotence sinks in, it will be much harder for the Mullahs to cow the population. Then we'll find out whether the optimistic reports we keep hearing about the Iranian youth are really true. I'm not so convinced that hey are, but will see.

8/02/2005 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I think we should enact anti sedition laws simultaneously in Iraq and the United States.
...and come up with a profile for anti-profiling Nazis from Arizona.

8/02/2005 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Wretchard: "I wonder if you have it the other way around. We are getting as much war, and the kind of war, that our political system will allow. Why guard the Syrian border when we are at peace with Damascus? Even in the months immediately after the fall of Baghdad, the Marines, who took over from the Army in Qusabayah found they were in the middle of a 'secret war' with Syria."

Only the President can deliver the necessary context. The American people need to understand, and it needs to happen now.

8/02/2005 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Rick 3:30,
How many lives could have been saved if the Highway of Death had remained that instead of becoming the Highway of Compassion for escaping Fascist Killers?

8/02/2005 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Aristides,

"Only the President can deliver the necessary context. The American people need to understand, and it needs to happen now."

Of course you are correct. But the process would be exceedingly interesting. I had the sense that the thinking began, after a long somnolence, in the aftermath of 9/11 and then ground to a halt after that. The need to make a case, especially when that case must be made to perfection, was part of the long run-up to OIF. And the case now stands, like a kind of surreal monument, to the day the thinking stopped. In a way, the case became a casus belli in itself. But however that may be, the thinking process has to start again. And you're right: only the President can deliver the context.

8/02/2005 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Cedarfard: I could see US Grant or Eisenhower or MacArthur strangling a DiRita type briefer telling Lincoln or FDR that measuring enemy strength is "not a meaningful metric in itself".

How does counting skulls tell you anything of the enemy's strength? So you bagged a 1000 skulls. What does that represent? 90% 50% 10% of the total out there? Care to explain how does counting skulls becomes a meaningful metric?

8/02/2005 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

A new guide to enter Iraq from Syria has been cited by Bill Roggio (billroggio.com):

"Do not trust any Imam in Syrian mosques because they are all employees of the Syrian government, which openly fights against the religion of Allah. It is impossible for people living there to attend prayers at the mosques without having Syrian Intelligence sweeping through the place."

It advises disguising appearance to not appear Salafist, grooming beard, etc. It also advises carrying Western artifacts like "music tapes, cigarettes, etc."

From what the guide says, there is a heavy intelligence presence in the mosques themselves, and the guide goes so far as advising not to even enter one of these mosques or engage other Salafists.

It seems the easiest way of entry is to bribe border officials and Syrian police. No surprise there.

8/02/2005 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Wretchard: "The need to make a case, especially when that case must be made to perfection, was part of the long run-up to OIF. And the case now stands, like a kind of surreal monument, to the day the thinking stopped. In a way, the case became a casus belli in itself."

In information theory, lossy compression is a real problem, where compressing data and then decompressing it retrieves information that may be completely different in meaning. The hope is always to be "close enough" to the original to pass the fidelity criterion.

There is always a limit as to how much you can compress data and still retain original meaning. What is that limit with the information we are dealing with? A speech? An article? A year's worth of research?

I agree that any process that set out to convince the public of our need would be interesting. Perhaps here is where we can most fully understand the betrayal of the modern media, in its abdication of its responsibility to keep the public up-to-date. It makes the job of persuasion near impossible.

But he has to try, and it needs to begin.

8/02/2005 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Can't be compared to Korea, 50 years ago.

When a widespread and public knowing of the coming of Baha'u'llah is allowed to the people of Iraq, THEY will courageously turn toward the Blessed Beauty, leading their 'leaders', despite years of enforced ignorance!

Iraq, unlike Korea, has centuries of widespread belief in the promised coming of Mahdi, of the Holy One promised by Muhammad and others; to the Muslims. All that stands between the people and their freedom is a handful of clergy AND THE PEOPLES' UNAWARENESS OF THE ACTUAL FULFILLMENT of God's promises. (Rev 2:17, 3:12)

8/02/2005 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Rick Ballard:

Now I think you've erred in the wrong direction. "Atlanta" isn't enough. There must be tangible evidence for the current and future generations of the failure of militant Islam. I'll try to get to that in some future post on my blog.

8/02/2005 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Funny how the grass seems greener on the other side. Mark Steyn in the Telegraph waxes lyrical on the clarity of President Bush.

"Tony Blair talks a good talk, explaining the rationale for war far better than President Bush. But he now needs not just to talk but to act. In France, the interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, has just expelled another dozen Islamists. By contrast, Mr Blair seems paralysed. In the weeks after 9/11, Mr Bush rethought 40 years of US policy in the Middle East. The Prime Minister has a more difficult task: he has to rethink 40 years of British policy in Leicester and Bradford and Leeds and Birmingham.

He has to regain control of Britain's borders from the EU and of Britain's education system from the teachers' unions and of Britain's welfare programmes from wily Somalis and others. In 20 years' time, no one will remember whether Tony Blair abolished the House of Lords or foxhunting: that's poseur stuff. They'll judge him on whether or not he funked the central challenge of the times. If "the images of ruin and destruction" come to pass, it will not be because of the bombers but because of a state that lacked the cultural confidence to challenge them."

8/02/2005 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard -

As someone who supported the war, and still do to some extent, at least to the point where I don't want to see the Sunnis that have been killing us for the last two years trying to get on the last US helicopters evacuating the Embassy....Well, not that bad, but at least so that we are not unwelcome in Iraq 10 years from now with all the oil business in China and France's hands...

But it's been a process of steady reductionism. All the things we wanted to accomplish intially went sour. The cakewalk, the oil paying for reconstruction, the vast stockpiles of WMD, a "few dead-enders blowing off a little steam before getting back to work by July 2003. Even the pipedream Chalabi sold the neocons on - he would be President by acclaim, sign a peace treaty with Israel, and ship most to the northern oil to Haifa so Israel could market and refine it for Iraq...That lapaloosa of a lie died fast.

Then the Reductionism came to "breaking the back of the insurgency" - things like Saddam's capture, Bremer & Cheney's insane decision to toss all the Sunnis out of the military, secret police, government positions so they could go home and chill...., and various campaigns that were all touted as showing the insurgency was on it's last legs. Along the way we struggled with reconstruction, exploding crime, and the slow attrition of the Coalition of the Willing.

In this latest stage, we conceed the insurgency is 95% Iraqi, is strong, and still growing. But we had our hopes on democracy with the "Noble, brave, purple-fingered people", the wisdom of Right Wing Israeli Anatoly Sharansky...and briefly had notions a tidal wave of democracy would sweep the ME. Then of course we discover the Iraqis signed treaties with Iran to provide troop training and a mutual defense pact. And discover Islam will be the basis of the Constitution and laws protecting infidels and women will not be quite what we hoped.

Now Reductionism seems to have led to the US ambitions to their most basic level - to hang on as Poland, Italy, Denmark peel off and the Brits hunker in a casualty-minimizing position - waiting, pushing for when the ISF can defend itself so total anarchy doesn't happen, the US can exit gracefully.

With the hope that the upcoming Civil War may be milder than other civil wars, and maybe oil won't top 100 a barrel...

Maybe we will get lucky and the Sunnis will cut a last minute deal and end their cooperation with Al Qaeda elements in return for amnesty of past Ba'athist crimes except for a chosen few at the top, and amnesty for those caught killing the occupying infidels...And the Sunnis "disinvite" the couple thousand foreign fighters, get their cut of the action.. And get lucky where the Kurds would out some decent autonomy without getting so independence-minded we are forced to backstab them yet again to preserve our strategic relatioinship with the Turks. And with luck that Shiite Iraq doesn't go hardcore Islamist, but only goes with "Sharia-Lite".

No amount of bragging how "Our Troops are the Best!" or how "SAS rules the desert" will affect the outcome...

Unless we decide to restart the Draft and become an adequately large occupying force. Highly unlikely. Howard and Blair - I doubt - have any intention of doing so, nor does the will exist in the US.

The old neocon boasts of "Next Syria, Next Iran, then Saudi Arabia...Faster America, faster please.." now sound like some strange exhortations from a wierd, parallel universe. An unreality that, with 20-20 hindsight, knowing what we know now of Iraq, the region, and who used America like a sockpuppet - a series of militarily generated regime changes to create stable, pro-Western AND Israel-friendly new regimes never was remotely possible.

If our military stays volunteer and funded at current levels, it needs a rest and time to absorb more Transformation and whatever major mess is left after BRAC that must be adapted to. Unless we are attacked or an ally with which we have a defense pact is attacked, or oil is threatened...there will be no more wars of opportunity for Bush, Cheney and the Hawks.

8/02/2005 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Excellent blog! I give it an A+ with a Gold Star!! I'll be creating a blog on nintendo revolution soon, in the meantime if you want to review my website on nintendo revolution uncensored, i'd really appreciate it!

8/02/2005 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger GorgeouslyGeorgina said...

Just wanna say hi..and I definitely think that you have an awesome blog..uhmm..take a look at my
profile and my webpage, got there hot cool stuffs..

Muah!

8/02/2005 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Al Sha'lan Attacks Iran and Al Ja'fari:

Hazem Al Sha'lan, former Iraqi defense minister, has announced the creation of a party coalition, called "The Democratic Forces Union", which includes 15 Iraqi liberal parties that "believe in the democratic concept".

Al Sha'lan criticized Ibrahim Al Ja'fari's government, its openness towards Iran and Turkey, and its "delay" in "establishing bridges of trust with Arab countries", which he considered as representing "a state of provocation for Arabs and Iraqis."

http://www.almendhar.com/english_5001/news_print.aspx

8/02/2005 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Steyn's greener grass,
Seems the only hope is the more rebellious spirit in America:
While talking about the scarey infusion of 50 MILLION dollars to the feminazi cause at Harvard w/Heather McDonald, Laura Ingraham reported that a friend of hers said the law school faculty was abysmal, 100% left, but there were quite a few conservative students!
Heather talked of the elephant in the room in terms of pretending Femi Affirmative Action hasn't been in place for the last 30 years.
Said since there are only a limited number of female scientists, this will create a bidding war among the anxious and spineless administrations, as well as the hiring of yet more mind numbed hate American males reprogrammer types for the all important sensitivity courses, and etc.

8/02/2005 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I'm finally starting to get Rick's description of you C4.
You run these things over and over until there is no other possible way to look at something.
...in your mind at least.
There is only one perspective, yours, no room to contemplate others.
When you mention Syria, I think how much better things might have gone, and could still go, if we have to will, if we had done as I think RWE suggested above, and start not with a decapitation strike, but targeted strikes until we get the proper amount of attention.
...but you would rather run through your list of grievances (themselves run through with Joo bashing) over again, then again, and so on.

8/02/2005 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Ah..border wars.Lets go back to the late Indochina excursion.The North Vietnamese had two sanctuaries in Laos and Cambodia which remained sanctuaries for several years.It differs from the present case because they were two impotent states with a shared common border versus today where Iran and Syria are two separate fronts and much less impotent.Add in the Sunni-Shiite dynamic and its a whole different enchilada.
A better lesson would be Syria vs Laos/Cambodia.
Westmoreland and Abrams long advocated cross border pursuit as well as invasion of North Viet Nam.
Early on with popular support of the war,a docile press,good morale in the field taking the war into Cambodia and Laos would have been doable but LBJ and the smart guys in suits(the neo-cons of the day?)decided to bleed the 1st Cav in the Ia Drang,the 4th Division and 173rd Airborne in the Central Highlands and let the enemy regroup in peace over the border.Eventually as the public grew weary,the will for going into Laos ,Cambodia and North Viet Nam was largely sapped.
Even so Nixon defied the voices of defeat and showed the possibilities by the Cambodian operation.This bought some time for American withdrawal.
Unfortunately the ARVN incursion into Laos was utterly hamstrung by the refusal to send American advisors and eventually the will to even rearm the ARVN was gone and catastrophic defeat followed.
What's the lesson?There's a time to strike when the iron is hot.Wars fought without overwhelming force and dictated by political considerations usually turn out very badly.Now(and the clock is ticking) Syria could be neutralized by a few symbolically strong retalitory strikes.In a year or two who knows?
The best arab fighters are boy scouts compared to the NVA on one hand.On the other hand,losing that war hurt our morale.Losing this one might open a Pandora's box like the world hasn't seen since the 1930's.

8/02/2005 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

It has long been plain to me that because we were never intent on sealing, or securing, the border with Syria, neither would we have any interest in strikes within Syria when the situation we facilitated was taken advantage of.

Syria's just another no-go on a list of no-go's. We'll monitor, surveil, and interdict at points, but that's about all we'll do.

Defining victory down is enormously important. What else is there to do?

8/02/2005 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/02/2005 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Trangbang68
"Losing this one might open a Pandora's box like the world hasn't seen since the 1930's."

Especially now that Iran is going nuclear. Now that is something really ominous.

ADE

8/02/2005 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

"Syria could be neutralized by a few symbolically strong retalitory strikes."

Symbollically strong retaliatory strikes are the very stuff of politicians - and never neutralize but those they manage to kill.

8/02/2005 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Doug -

I'm saying we have steadily reduced the scope of our goals over the last 2 years to getting the Iraqi troops trained, working some kind of deal for stability with the Kurds, exerting some kind of influence on them not to go too Sharia....

All the other stuff, the oil contracts/bases to mount "regime changes" from/secular pro Western democracy/Iraq a major future ally of America & friend to Israel/lifetime friendships between Iraqis and their liberators (outside Kurd lands)...all gone as goals...

Do you challenge the Reductionism?

As for solving our problems in Iraq by widening the war and bombing other countries - why don't we try guarding the borders first?

8/02/2005 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

C4,
Guarding the borders is insensitive, just ask some posters here.
---
I agree things have been defined down, but throwing up our hands won't do much, right?
Do you think we are hated everywhere but in Kurd lands?
Seems like doing something about Syria is called for.
If not, what would your plan be for the present situation in Iraq?

8/02/2005 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I contend GWB has fewer demons than any president in American History .
...course that don't make him 100% right, do it?

8/03/2005 12:15:00 AM  
Blogger sam said...

London's Second Thoughts:

Exactly two weeks after London’s July 7 bombings, in which four young Muslims blew themselves up in three subway cars and a bus in Central London, another group of four tried unsuccessfully to detonate bombs in three subway cars and a bus.

With the support of the opposition parties, legislation has now been introduced in the UK that will make it a criminal offense to receive training in terrorist techniques, to commit acts “preparatory to terrorism” (including buying the raw materials for a bomb), and to indirectly incite terrorist acts (this is intended to cover Salafist preachers who condone and incite to violence).

For the UK, which has 1.6 million Muslims and 58 million other, mainly Christian, citizens, the generous free speech tradition that allowed extremist clerics to preach hatred and terror is likely to be curbed.

Some of the very British cultural habits that are manifest in the media, politics, and courts unfortunately played a major role in the establishment and development of a well-rooted Islamist micro-environment in Britain.

Britain has long been known to have on its soil militants of Egyptian terror organizations such as Islamic Jihad and al-Gamaa al-Islaamiya, or the Algerian GIA, the Palestinian terror group Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah.

After 7/7, France announced plans to reintroduce border controls such as passport checks that were scrapped under the 1985 Schengen free-borders agreement with 11 other European countries.

If only Muslims in Leeds or London would be more like most of their American coreligionaries. Eide Alawan, the chief adviser to the imam at America's largest mosque, in Dearborn, Michigan, said this month, “I cannot believe what imams in London have been preaching. If anybody preached in favor of bombing in this mosque, the community would be on top of them. They'd report it to the board [of the mosque] and he'd be fired.”

http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=18963

8/03/2005 12:33:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

I agree with exhelodrvr, Westhawk, Cutler, Doug, trangbang68 (Aristides - except Syria has been warned and they just stall/deflect) and others, that Syria is a major staging ground for the enemy and must be dealt with quickly. As trangbang68 notes, time is not on our side. Syria could become even a greater danger if it acquired more powerful weapons (which I am sure they are doing). But, as Wretchard have pointed out it's up to the President to make the decision.

I don't have access to the intelligence the President has but, intuitively I would suggest striking hard at known staging areas and training camps. Further, if the location of Saddam's thugs are known I would strike their positions as well. Because Syria has be playing both sides of the street I would strike without warning (bypass the UN). Syria has caused enough deaths. If Syria keeps supporting insurgents - additional strikes would be necessary.

We are fighting a proxy war with Syria being a key player. Germany and Japan did not fall until their military/industrial complex was hobbled. Syria is the Terrorist's military/industrial complex. The example is not exact - but it's close enough.

8/03/2005 02:37:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Cedarford,

Personally I think the real danger isn't that America will be kicked out of the Muslim, but that it will be required to keep order. As in Kosovo, Kuwait. Like in Iraq. In Saudi Arabia should it finally collapse from corruption and internal fighting. In Pakistan and maybe even in Iran. Diplomats were afraid of "destabilization" because the Muslim world was such a house of cards. Iraq was hit partially because it lay astride the Sunni-Shi'a faultline in the calculation that it could be put back together again in a liberal-democratic fashion.

But if that proves impossible OIF will have proved just enough to send one house of cards tumbling in on the next. It would be a comprehensive demolition of regimes right across the region. There mightn't be an Islamic potentate left to declare victory over America.

8/03/2005 03:48:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This depressing article from Basra by a man murdered hours later, certainly fits in with the problems of corruption and maintaining life support systems, much less order.
.On Again, Off Again .

This from his Blog:
.In the Red Zone .
And there it was, the familiar Cultural-Values-Are-Relative argument, surprising though it was to hear it from a military man. But that, too, I realized, was part of American Naiveté: the belief, evidently filtering down from ivy-league academia to Main Street, U.S.A., that our values are no better (and usually worse) than those of foreign nations; that we have no right to judge "the Other;" and that imposing our way of life on the world is the sure path to the bleak morality of Empire (cue the Darth Vader theme).

But Layla would have none of it. "No, believe me!" she exclaimed, sitting forward on her stool. "These religious parties are wrong! Look at them, their corruption, their incompetence, their stupidity! Look at the way they treat women! How can you say you cannot judge them? Why shouldn't your apply your own cultural values?"
...
And though Layla would not have pushed the point this far, I couldn't resist. "You know, Captain," I said, "sometimes American values are just--better."

8/03/2005 03:59:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Steven has a piece on Basra in the July 31 New York Times.
Steven and this blog were also featured in a July 29 editorial by Diana West in the Washington Times.

8/03/2005 04:02:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Diana West's piece is titled
Nonjudgmentalism and terror.
We muddle through, but the terrible tendencies remain — as revealed in a stunning installment from Iraq of the blog In the Red Zone by journalist Steven Vincent. Mr. Vincent reports from Basra, where he says crooks and corruption are the problem, not terrorism. There, a Gary-Cooper-esque U.S. Air Force captain is in charge of awarding contracting jobs of up to one million dollars. Mr. Vincent's Iraqi friend Layla has her doubts about the bidders: How do you know, she asks the captain, that you are not funneling money to extremists or religious parties that have put a woman's name on their letterhead to win a bid? And here goes quotation two: "I certainly hope none of these contracts are going to the wrong people," he replied, continuing: "But should we really get involved in choosing one political group over another? ... I mean, I've always believed that we shouldn't project American values onto other cultures — that we should let them be. Who is to say we are right and they are wrong?"
Et tu, Captain America? It's one thing to get this mindless mantra from a Montgomery County public school teacher with rings on his toes and multiculturalism on his agenda

8/03/2005 04:05:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

'Rat, check this out: (more Diana West)
. Anything to avoid "fears of racial profiling," even death by murder-bomber.
As the captain said, who's to say?

In the Exact-Sequence-Chosen-at-Random We Trust.
If we deny their identity long enough, our own will cease to matter.

8/03/2005 04:12:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Wake me up when the people that make the decisions start admitting that Islam is first and foremost a political ideology with a whole set of rules about taking what you have and distributing it among the believers. Mohammed was a brigand by profession. Islam was his effective recruiting tool for his gang in the 7th century and nothing has changed since then.

8/03/2005 04:26:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Back to sleep, Peter,
Check this out:
His New York Times piece is worst of all:
(If Basra is any indication of elsewhere, I must admit C4, it does not look good.)
...police loyal to Sadr!

An Iraqi police lieutenant, who for obvious reasons asked to remain anonymous, confirmed to me the widespread rumors that a few police officers are perpetrating many of the hundreds of assassinations - mostly of former Baath Party members - that take place in Basra each month. He told me that there is even a sort of "death car": a white Toyota Mark II that glides through the city streets, carrying off-duty police officers in the pay of extremist religious groups to their next assignment.

Meanwhile, the British stand above the growing turmoil, refusing to challenge the Islamists' claim on the hearts and minds of police officers. This detachment angers many Basrans. "The British know what's happening but they are asleep, pretending they can simply establish security and leave behind democracy," said the police lieutenant who had told me of the assassinations. "Before such a government takes root here, we must experience a transformation of our minds."

In other words, real security reform requires psychological as well as physical training. Unless the British include in their security sector reform strategy some basic lessons in democratic principles, Basra risks falling further under the sway of Islamic extremists and their Western-trained police enforcers.

8/03/2005 04:28:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Frontpage Mag Steven Vincent Interview

8/03/2005 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

GOD REST A GOOD MAN [Kathryn Jean Lopez]Steven Vincent, who on his own went to Iraq to tell the world the story there, has been murdered there. May God rest the soul of a good man. And, please, God bless his family.

8/03/2005 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The New York Times published on Sunday an editorial written by Vincent about the growing influence of Islamic militants in the largely Shiite city of Basra and British efforts to train new security forces. He wrote that security forces were heavily influenced by such groups as the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
___CNN___

8/03/2005 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

[Michael Ledeen]
This is to mourn the murder of the free lance journalist Steven Vincent, a victim of the Sadrist thugs (that is to say, the Iranian-sponsored terrorists) in Basra.
His crime was to have written about the fanatics in Basra, who are attempting to create a mini-islamic republic in the south, to the shameful indifference of the British forces and Coalition commanders, and the so-called Left in this country and Europe.

If there is ever a day of reckoning, those opinion makers who have remained silent in the face of the monstrous terrorist campaign against the Iraqi people will find it quite impossible to explain their de facto collusion with the terrorists.

8/03/2005 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger The Beak Doctor said...

Now that Iraq is certain to become a totalitarian shariah state rather than anything resembling a pluralist liberal blueprint for the Middle East, we must find a strategy to ensure that we don't come out of it looking like complete fools. We must turn it to our advantage. And the only way to do that is to ensure that the civil war in Iraq causes as much destruction to Islam as possible. The more regional players that can be drawn into the conflict the better. The objective is to harden the attitudes of Westerners towards Islam, and to further alienate the Muslims in our midst. Iraq must become a monument to the incompatability between Islam and liberal values. If we can make that happen, we'll have won the war.

8/03/2005 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/03/2005 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

From the Corner,
Rupert Darwall is a director of Reform, the UK's brightest think-tank. His brilliant WSJ Europe article last week on Blair's response to the challenge of Islamic extremism in the UK is a must-read :
---
[snip]
"Indeed, the Blair government's multicultural agenda, which deconstructs the idea of Britain as a nation into a "community of communities," has ended up playing into the hands of the extremists.

It rewards separateness and feeds the victim/grievance culture of Muslim activists and community representatives.
It is dangerous because it delegitimizes social pressure on British Muslims to join the mainstream and supports a continuum of Muslim attitudes toward Britain -- from neutrality through resentment and suspicion to hatred and hostility. "

8/03/2005 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Vintage Blair Attempt to Talk Terror Away.
Rupert Darwall
Wall Street Journal Europe

8/03/2005 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger pete speer said...

We can not expect a nation of tribes with only a common language but a history of religious and ethnic differences to bind together into a democracy.

Only when the need to coalesce is preeminent can a workable (Islamic) republic emerge.

Or does everybody forget how the United States was formed?

First we had the Articles of Confederation -- remember those?

Then and only then were we able to agree that a constitution with a stronger central government, reserving unenumerated powers to the States was necessary.

8/03/2005 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

I don't want to get hung up on the definitional differences between democracy and representative government but a significant difference from 18th century US is that the Iraqis have lived together for millenia. I think the tribal aspects of Iraqi society are underappreciated but fact is that Iraqi clans successfully blend all ethnic and religious groups into a workable order. There's centuries of precedent for a federal system.

8/03/2005 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard -I noticed your post then a very interesting one from the BeakDoctor that I found refreshing in it's utter cynicism. I used to believe more in the "drain the swamps and reform Islamic countries argument", but as time has gone by, events have shown Iraqis unwilling to make their country work or to fight the insurgency with any enthusiasm. They LIKE their fetid fever swamps and unite only in dislike of the infidel occupier.

The very thing that Europe and the Arab countries opposed us on Iraq so much on was the underlying fear of destabilization. Their argument was "Saddam was contained - but if he goes - God can only imagine the havoc unleashed and what the price of oil will go to"...

The counter-argument to the "havoc" case was that the Iraqis were really noble, freedom loving people hungry for democracy who would join in welcoming their liberators and creating a better, prosperous, Israel-friendly Iraq. Then other Muslim countries would duplicate E European [name the color] revolutions and adopt secular democracies. As neocons and their backers have said though, democracy aided by US "surgical" bombing to encourage the Pro-American elements within in the case of Iran and Syria - the threats to Israel they are most concerned about. (What Twilight Zone are those neocons in????).

Wretchard: Diplomats were afraid of "destabilization" because the Muslim world was such a house of cards. Iraq was hit partially because it lay astride the Sunni-Shi'a faultline in the calculation that it could be put back together again in a liberal-democratic fashion.

But if that proves impossible OIF will have proved just enough to send one house of cards tumbling in on the next. It would be a comprehensive demolition of regimes right across the region. There mightn't be an Islamic potentate left to declare victory over America.

Which would mean several Afghanistans happening in short succession, leading to terrorist breeding grounds and export of terror like Afghanistan became - except worse, given one of those house of cards has nukes, one wants them, and several have the oil our civilization depends on.

TheBeakDoctor -

Now that Iraq is certain to become a totalitarian shariah state rather than anything resembling a pluralist liberal blueprint for the Middle East, we must find a strategy to ensure that we don't come out of it looking like complete fools. We must turn it to our advantage. And the only way to do that is to ensure that the civil war in Iraq causes as much destruction to Islam as possible. The more regional players that can be drawn into the conflict the better. The objective is to harden the attitudes of Westerners towards Islam, and to further alienate the Muslims in our midst. Iraq must become a monument to the incompatability between Islam and liberal values. If we can make that happen, we'll have won the war.

When I was a kid my Dad explained the Iraq-Iran War to me as a war of two countries full of assholes determined to kill one another, that hopefully would succeed in doing just that. That war was never a good thing, but he couldn't think of 2 more deserving countries.

Perhaps it will cause that hardening of attitudes, beakdoctor. We offered the resources of the US to help - and not only Sunni but Shia were indifferent or spitting at our proffered hand. And spend 200 billion so far and 1500 dead in Iraq, 9,000 serious casualties so far for our trouble. The Kurds seem to have been great - but it would be great if the hate-filled Shia and Sunni Iraqis focus on killing one another, not us..

Beakdoctor is right in that if Iraq goes sour in a way that shows the fundamental incompatibility of Islam to other forms of civilization, then we will succeed by our failure. Stop taking 5th column enemy into the West under idiotic refugee laws crafted in 1949 to address WWII refugees within Western, Asian Civ - not 3rd World savages incompatible with either Civ. It will also be a powerful lesson learned about letting a small special interest group hijack American foreign policy for their own purposes - not the 1st time this has happened, as the Cuban exile case shows.

As for America looking like complete idiots - I'm afraid we will carry the stain of clumsy boobery with us for awhile as is.

Because of the intelligence failures. The botched postwar from embracing neocon dogma ungrounded in facts, over-reliance on exiles with agendas, lack of planning, no manpower pool assembled with understanding of Iraq or able to speak the language. (We had trained thousands of civil affairs officers who were immersed in exotic Japanese culture and had a working knowledge of language by early 1945). Add our incoherent interrogation policies, and inability to control troops from leaking out all sorts of damaging shit to the global media. And our lack of concern about waging this conflict outside the military sphere... And what laws apply to terrorists, failure to name who the enemy is. The "wink, wink, Surely you know...defense" only shows our fear to publicly name the enemy still, 4 years after 9/11 - not a good thing.

8/03/2005 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Wretchard,
I don't think Cedarfart gets it. Those with the guns decide on the rules. And these rules could very quickly change from the struggle for a liberal western style democracy to the struggle for finding water to drink. Something to think about Cedarfart, while you spend your energy recreating an al-Jazirah style jihadi echo chamber at Belmont.

In other words you and your kinfolk better start praying Iraq and the rest of the ME works out according to plan A. Cause there is a plan B.

8/03/2005 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Vincent's stuff on Basra was certainly worrying. Reminded me of the post here about the hits on prostitues that were just being ignored by British in the hopes of staying out of it.

Neo-conservative vs. stability debate miniturized.

8/03/2005 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

cedarford:
Now that Iraq is certain to become a totalitarian shariah state rather than anything resembling a pluralist liberal blueprint for the Middle East, we must find a strategy to ensure that we don't come out of it looking like complete fools.
/////////////////////
I think this overstates the case and confuses shariah with shia. Iraq won't become a shia state on the Iran model because that would directly lead to the crack up of the country. The shia in the south --while a majority --would not be strong enough to impose shia law on both the kurds and the sunis.

8/03/2005 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

PC^KILLA said...
Wretchard,
I don't think Cedarfart gets it. Those with the guns decide on the rules. And these rules could very quickly change from the struggle for a liberal western style democracy to the struggle for finding water to drink.

////////////////
the cost of desalinized water has fallen by a third in the last decade.


The state of the art in material research these days is just what the medieval alchemists dreamed of. Its why GM can say they'll cut the cost of fuel cells by a factor of 10 from $500@ kilowatt to $50@kilowatt.

Same thing will happen to desalinized water. Its going to get much cheaper.

In fact, the whole middle eastern bru ha ha could be brought to an end if bush did the equivalent of a star wars speach. ie Reagan won the cold war by changing the future expectations of the russians--be revoking MAD and instituting research for anti missle missles. Bush could do the same by saying the USA will begin research requisite to kill the cost of desalinized water and water transport such that water in 1000 miles from any desert coast will someday cost the same as water in New York or Ireland or Poland or Japan.

The great goal of the 21st century would be not only to have cars run on water but to double the size of the habitable planet by turning the world's deserts green.

I think everyone would get on the same page...

8/03/2005 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Cost of desalinized water will be the last thing on their minds. They'll be too busy deciding on who to shish kebab for dinner.

8/03/2005 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

pc^killa -

You attribute BeakDoctor's quote to me. Read again.

I don't think much of your "we'll save those people by bombing them" approach. If the Shiites turn out to be the ingrates they appear to be, if all the blather about democracy, noble purple-fingered Iraqis illusionist nonsense...bombs won't make a difference.

Just lots of regimes falling like houses of cards, as Wretchard mentioned...And looking not to rise as Israel-friendly secular democracies as the neocon Illusionists wishfully claimed - but as popularly elected Islamist states - as countries like France (booo, hiss!) warned.

8/03/2005 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Important questions are: how aggressive do we expect popularly elected Islamist states to be and can the voters toss them out in the next election (or will it be one-man-one-vote-once?)

Some aspects of the new Iraqi Constitution seem less like democratic mechanisms than licenses to steal the state's wealth, as divvied up by the politicians. Rule-of-law (rather than rule by the I-have-the-power-to-make-others-submit-to-me Sharia/Ba'athism) can only be a threat to such thieves.

8/03/2005 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger The Beak Doctor said...

The Kurds won't need the Shia to impose sharia law on them, they'll do it themselves. Regardless of the hype that Christopher Hitchens has given them, (probably an attempt to retain some credibility amongst his erstwhile colleagues on the left), they're still Sunni Muslims. And no matter how hard we try to project our live-and-let-live values onto the Muslims world, the truth always comes back to bite us. Despite all the grievances between Sunni, Shia and Kurd, I'm sure they were unanimous in their support for Article 1 of the Constitution. It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

8/03/2005 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

It all comes back to oil. They do not need to relinquish hardline islam, because they can support themselves on oil revenue alone. We cannot confront them because we need the oil and a confrontation would jeopardise supply.

The problem is that the oil supply is being jeopardised by the hardline islam.

We need to reduce their oil revenue either by using less oil or by stealing their oil and I know we are not going to consume less oil. The cheapest way to steal their oil would be to have someone-else steal it, if the populations of the ME can be convinced that they desverve more say in the spending and need democracy to ensure this then they take fundamentalist islam out of the equation.

8/03/2005 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

PC^KILLA said...
Cost of desalinized water will be the last thing on their minds. They'll be too busy deciding on who to shish kebab for dinner.
////////////////
imho you'd be surprised as to how much of the squint in desert people's eyes is due to sun.

8/03/2005 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

unaha-closp said...
It all comes back to oil.
//////////////////
the national security establishments in the entire industrial world have figured this out in the last 18 months.

Besides genetics research there isn't a lab anywhere in the world that isn't working on killing the cost of some form of energy.

Wind is competitve with coal plants. Solar is expected to be competitive in about 18 months. GM says they can get the fuel cell down in five years. That means that likely something will crack hard in the next 3 years.

The pressure in hydrogen research for results is now about as hard as it was in 1942 for results from the Manhattan project.

Nor given the state of the art of current research tools -- is the level of difficulty much different than that faced by researchers in 1942.

Probably there's even more spies hanging around US labs today than there were in 1942. But they're not Moslem.

8/03/2005 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

No, they're not. But I think Cedarford knows who they are.

8/03/2005 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Actually, the Arab oil sheiks monitor alternative energy developments carefully. They know that, as one Saudi oil minister put it, the Stone Age didn't end due to a lack of stones.

I suppose the oil sheiks try to maintain their energy dominance by shrewd application of their capital and oil-pricing powers. If money alone can't buy out a competitor, then more oil may be pumped to drive the price of crude down to the point where large, capital-intensive projects cannot earn a decent return, then buy out such companies in bankruptcy. How did the Kuwait Investment Office become the largest shareholder in BP?

Where alternative energy sources exist, the sheiks monitor the break-even price points (usually they don't even have to figure them themselves, such numbers are publicly available.) I know of one project, new-generation steam locomotives for railroads, that came within just a few dollars of break-even before the price of oil collapsed in the early 80s. (At that time, railroads accounted for perhaps 2% of America's petroleum consumption.)

And nuclear power? Why shouldn't the sheiks subsidize the enviro-crazies to file dozens of meaningless lawsuits or fund scare campaigns to make nuclear unattractive?

Just a coincidence? Well, maybe.

8/03/2005 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Solomon2 said...
Actually, the Arab oil sheiks monitor alternative energy developments carefully. They know that, as one Saudi oil minister put it, the Stone Age didn't end due to a lack of stones.

I suppose the oil sheiks try to maintain their energy dominance by shrewd application of their capital and oil-pricing powers. If money alone can't buy out a competitor, then more oil may be pumped to drive the price of crude down to the point where large, capital-intensive projects cannot earn a decent return, then buy out such companies in bankruptcy.
///////////////////////
There's been a seachange of consensus opinion in the last 18 months.

The first change is that we're going to reach peak world oil production in the next five years--just as happened back in the 70's for the US. US oil production has been declining since then.

The second big change of opinion is the realization that the Indians and the Chinese alone are going to sucking up huge amounts of oil on a scale the world hasn't seen before because of the growing sizes of their economies.

These two things together insure that the sheiks don't have to do anything to maintain high oil prices.

They also insure that the scientific establishments of the entire industrial world is focused on killing the cost of the alternative forms of energy.

8/03/2005 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Nathan said...
No, they're not. But I think Cedarford knows who they are.

5:06 PM
/////////////
the biggest spy agency in the US currently belongs to the chinese

8/03/2005 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

'Although civil war would be a tragedy, with immense costs, it would at least force a definitive outcome to the ongoing struggle in Iraq.'

How many understand that Gen Keane speaks for an institution that knows the tragedy of civil war and the value of definitive outcome?

8/03/2005 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

"The only meaningful strike against Syria would be a decapitation strike, and we'd have the same situation in Syria that we now have in the Sunni Triangle."

I disagree completely. A slow air war, wiht no US casualties (a la Serbia) will be very effective.

8/03/2005 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

From Charles link in the next thread on Milbloggers:
...the value of an education in war. (This Indian's Parents are both NY Dentists as I recall.)

"Prakash remains in Germany, awaiting orders to jump back into his beloved tank, which he calls Ol' Blinky.
He says he has no plans to resume his study of neuroscience, although it wasn't completely useless in Iraq.
"Neuroscience actually came in handy when I had to explain to my guys exactly why doing ecstasy in a tank when it's 140 degrees out on a road that's blowing up every day is a really bad idea."

8/03/2005 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

buck smith 9:11
Agreed, except Syria deserves it FOR SURE.

8/03/2005 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

the biggest spy agency in the US currently belongs to the chinese

His other favorite topic.

8/04/2005 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Monkeesfan said...

On that 150,000 figure for the size of the insurgency - I'm skeptical it's that high, because if it were it could actually do something it so far has not been able to do - seize and hold territory.

8/06/2005 09:59:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger