Monday, May 22, 2006

Nooo! Nooo!

Whooops! Defense Link says it may be too soon to talk about a drawdown in forces.

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2006 – It's still too soon for the Defense Department to announce troops withdrawals from Iraq, particularly with Iraq's defense and interior ministers yet to be named, a defense spokesman told Pentagon reporters today.

In the meantime, U.S. troop deployment plans will remain on schedule and no troop withdrawals are imminent, Whitman said today.

"As we have always said, the coalition forces on the ground - the numbers and capabilities that we bring to bear - will be based on conditions on the ground," Whitman said. "So as conditions change, that will give an opportunity for us to make adjustments to that."

Awaiting further developments ...

Cake or Death links to a Guardian article reporting that George Bush and Tony Blair will announce an accelerated troop withdrawal.

George Bush and Tony Blair are to discuss in Washington this week a programme of troop withdrawals from Iraq that will be much faster and more ambitious than originally planned. In a phased pullout in which the two countries will act in tandem, Britain is to begin with a handover to Iraqi security forces in Muthanna province in July and the Americans will follow suit in Najaf, the Shia holy city. Other withdrawals will quickly follow over the remainder of the year. Officials in both administrations hope that Britain's 8,000 forces in Iraq can be down to 5,000 by the end of the year and that the American forces will be reduced from 133,000 to about 100,000.

Cake or Death thinks the withdrawal, if the Guardian article is accurate, will be portrayed as "vote pandering". And that's probably the way it will be portrayed.

I dunno... I'm sure they've got good intel and the word of officers on the ground in Iraq to support a sped up schedule of withdrawal of troops, but it smells of political posturing... bringing troops home 4 months before an election. And if I think that sounds like vote pandering, you know the Democrats will hammer him for it. He better have talking points ready and generals by his side when he says them to back him up saying things are good on the ground, Iraqi security forces are ready, and they've been doing most of the heavy lifting in the area for "X" amount of time. Hopefully having a former member of the press in Tony Snow heading up press relations will help lead to a better prepared Dubya. He needs to have the full arsenal ready the first time. If he does what he has been doing, drawing the discussion out over weeks and months, letting the pundits get a hold of it and chew on it for weeks, he's going to get hammered in the polls. Again.

The Booman Tribune says it’s defeat disguised as victory.

It would be better if Bush and Blair used their joint press conference to dramatically lower expectations for the end result in Iraq. They should acknowledge that the new government is going to have grave difficulties maintaining order and providing security after we pull out. They should warn us, and the Iraqis, that there is a high risk that the current parliament will break up as minority parties respond to heavy handed efforts to provide security by resigning from the government.

Then they should announce a much fuller withdrawal that will have all allied troops out of Iraq by the year's end, unless the Iraqi government makes a request that we stay in limited numbers in a supporting role.

When we actually leave, we would like it to appear to be by mutual agreement, not as a result of an inability to sustain our effort, or tantamount to a surrender to jihadists. The time to make that case is now. We should declare a limited victory, of sorts, in that the Iraqis have held elections and seated a government. We should announce our intention to abide by U.N. Resolution 1546, which calls for an end of the occupation by December 31st, 2006, unless otherwise requested by the Iraqi government. We should make it clear that the mission has been harder than expected, and that we have been unable to create conditions that will assure the success and future unity of Iraq.

Bush and Blair should show some humility, lay out the worst-case sceanrios, and implore the international community to be supportive of the Iraqi central government as they struggle to assert their dominance. No one should be under any illusions that the Iraqi government can do this without resorting to tactics that will be rightfully condemned by human rights organizations. Bush should also make absolutely clear that we have no intention of keeping permanent air bases or garrisons on Iraqi soil without the consent of the Iraqis (a possible exception might be made for Kurdistan, by the consent of the Kurdish government).

If they fail to do this, we will find ourselves in a vice created by Resolution 1546, whereby we will either be asked to leave and refuse, or will be asked to stay, and the government will lose all credibility. Moreover, we will become enmeshed in a giant ethnic cleansing effort on the side of Shiites against the Sunnis. This will be disastrous for more than humanitarian reasons. All of our regional allies are Sunni, while Iran is Shiite. We will shatter our regional alliances.

The damage is largely done. But only by announcing an intent to carry out a complete drawdown now can we limit the fallout and go some small way towards innoculating ourselves from the full measure of responsibility for the enormous tragedy that is about to ensure in Iraq. It's not much to cling to, but it beats being there on the ground contributing to the carnage, actively alienating our allies, and nonethesless, being forced to leave under even worse conditions that cannot be spun as anything less than total defeat.


This development has got to confuse the hell out of everybody. America is defeated in Iraq, hasn't everyone gotten the word? Withdrawal has got to be some kind of trick because it's impossible that it could be anything else than a retreat. A rout, a massacre. As in Retreat from Kabul, with Dr. Brydon the sole survivor of Lord Elphinstone's army and not Retreat, Hell! starring Richard Carlson and Frank Lovejoy.

Well, let's see what happens.


Blogger Doug said...

Comments in previous thread point to negative possibilities:
Kagan, Yon, and Helprin (I think) agree.
Yon says we really don't have enough men now, although progress is being made.
Kagan says we could finish the job by adding troops.
Helprin would have made demands and bombed and stayed out, with Air Bases in Saudi/Iraq desert.
Yon says we definitely don't have enough troops in Afghanistan.
He's got a new post up.

5/22/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger John Samford said...

I ran out of salt about halfway thru that article. The MSM is in total meltdown. Imagine a President that actually says what he is going to do then does it! Can Democracy survive such blatant rationalism? Why take a chance? Spin the 'ell out of it. Since there was no "Exit Stratergery" approved by the N.Y. Slimes or the Washington Compost, we had to have lost!
In one respect we have. From the military POV, the only reason to do regime change in Iraq was to establish a logistics base for regime change in Iran. Since PRESIDENT Bush lacks the stomach for that, there is no military reason to stay in Iraq.
And the democrats are not going to reclaim Congress this November. The Spring polls this year were not as bad as they were in '04 OR '02, both years in which the Democrats were smelling victory in May, and tasting defeat in November. In the 70+ years Spring Polls have been taken, THEY HAVE NEVER PREDICTED THE OUTCOME FOR NOVEMBER CORRECTLY. That is consistant.

5/22/2006 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

It's an interesting quesion whether there are enough troops to finish the job. But politics and public relations have turned this into a trick-mirror funhouse. Put them in and it's a quagmire: a reason to pull out. Pull them out and it is pandering to the voters. Maybe the problem should be discussed on its merits. That'll be the day.

5/22/2006 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The troop levels were politicalized over a year ago.
Tactics could not be discussed, training and doctrine were set in stone.
The Insurgency was militarily insignifigant, 'til it wasn't.

Victory could have been declared as any number of past goals were passed. If we begin to drawdown, soon, it legitimizes Mr Maliki, if we do not, he becomes seen as a puppet to our power or he will be driven to radical antiAmericanism.

Where his electorate already resides.

5/22/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...


5/22/2006 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Mr Maliki's, doug.

I must say, once you decide something, you sure don't half step.

5/22/2006 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

No, I meant the OTHER half of the electorate here!
I'm still a conservative, wherever that leaves me in the New New GOP.

5/22/2006 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

As RR once said:
I didn't leave it, it left me.

5/22/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/22/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/22/2006 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Once known as Kindergarten play.

5/22/2006 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Comment refered to games described by Sirius that were once considered to be children at play, practicing for the real world.

5/22/2006 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Smacko said...

Before commenting on this, it would be wise to find out what the PLANNED troop drawdowns were.

If we had always planned a 30000 troop drawdown this year, circumstances permitting, then this article is only putting an excitable spin on old news.

I know that a commentor at Polipundit, a Colonel in the Reserves, has said for months now that we will be drawing down 30000 OR MORE troops throughout the rest of the year.

5/22/2006 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Army pleads for more troops after Afghanistan firefight

MILITARY commanders have demanded an extra 600 British troops for Afghanistan after a series of suicide bombings and a firefight against hundreds of Taliban.

Officers have also warned that unless restrictions are relaxed on when soldiers can open fire the Taliban may inflict major losses.

5/22/2006 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Despite these reports, the obvious dangers our troops face isn’t making a big footprint in the news back in the US.
When I say “our troops”, I mean that Canadian, Australian, British, French, Italian and Dutch and other blood of our allies is our blood. Their blood is as important as ours. And where are our friends the Indians?

Despite that there are firefights – big ones – occurring frequently, the soldiers are calling Afghanistan the Forgotten War.

I am calling it The About to Bite us War because like a shark this beast has many rows of teeth.

The money from the massive opium harvest in 2006 will buy weapons and influence that will be used against us in the spring of 2007

5/22/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Pastorius said...

I agree with Reliapundit, at the Astute Blogger. The sped up withdrawal has more to do with our plans vis a vis Iran, than it has to do with Iraq.

Don't get me wrong, this is a post-government-formation move. In other words, I believe Bush and Blair had planned that, as soon as Iraq had formed its government, we would get on to the next step in the War on Terror.

Iran and Syria know why we are doing this, even if the Lefties among us don't understand, or would prefer to characterize these moves as defeat.

5/22/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Smacko said...

And let me say, that as usual lately, bloggers are on the race to the bottom. Trying to tag the discussion with 'first!' without even considering if the underlaying info is accurate or even newsworthy.

The Booman Tribune is a perfect example of this, proclaiming defeat and calling for a complete withdrawal before the years end (if it is even logistically possible). This before anyone bothers to check if this withdrawal was already planned if the Iraqi government succesfully formed.

5/22/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


The War in Afghanistan may be understood to mean the War in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In common with other countries that have harbored terrorist paramilitaries these forces are now vying for control of Pakistan's western provinces. Iraq has distracted us into forgetting it's a global war on terror.

5/22/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hiatus Corpus

5/22/2006 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Time Magazine Photos linked at Yon's are works of art.
Unfortunately the subject is sad and frightening.
Amazing work.

5/22/2006 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

3/5 Marines Back In Action
As in Fallujah, attempts to prop up a local government in Ramadi have faltered amid violence, kidnappings and assassinations.
Military bases in both places are frequently mortared.
Unlike in Fallujah, though, in Ramadi the Marines are a regular presence in the streets.
And they are hit daily by a mostly invisible enemy, bountifully armed with improvised explosive devices (IEDS), rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and automatic weapons. Most attacks occur on Ramadi's main road, dubbed Route Michigan.
(When asked if they're in control of the city, a roomful of grunts responds with phrases like "Oh, f___ no!")
The mosques offer support and sanctuary to fighters, the Marines say. Calls to attack Americans and the Iraqis working with them go out over the mosques' loudspeakers

5/22/2006 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Paine said...

“Win a military battle, lose the political war”

Sensei Roveiwan Karlnobe doesn’t lose wars.

The first battle of Fallujah was called off -- to get Iraq out of the headlines -- so that Bush could win the much more critical battle with Kerry – so that the second battle of Fallujah would be allowed to take place -- and lay to rest the “Grosny myth” that a well-prepared guerrilla army could seriously damage a well-prepared American army in a city fight.

Pull the troops out – win another political battle – so that the troops will be allowed to go back and win the military battle afterward – if the Iraqis can’t do it on their own.

On to Iran.

5/22/2006 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Blackfive Ramadi story reads like a large scale Gates of Fire.
Kurilla, btw has made a miraculous recovery and is now going to head the 2nd Rangers!

5/22/2006 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

To whatever extent Tom's 9:07 PM is true (a lot, I'm afraid) it's pretty pathetic, given that the enemy hasn't been taking breaks, but do take full advantage of the ones we take.

5/22/2006 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Be sure to read Yon's pdf from the Toronto Star! re
Your favorite modern Stone Age State, Afghanistan!

5/22/2006 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

This seems like a plan that has been in the offing for sometime yet. If for no other reason that it is within the cycle of the political season, and why not? Since when has the political winds been irrelevant to military action? One could always rationalize a reason that we should stay in Bosnia one more year. Nine of them in all. Certainly the lack of political concern has made such things not only tenable but certain. And consider this. If you wanted to break the stagnation in the political process and truly motivate the Iraqis, what alternative could you provide but to say… hey were doing a staged withdrawal. The following cities are now under your command. Sure. We’ll bomb them a little bit here and there but were not gonna level them so don’t get ur hopes up. Were just not, so get ur butt up there and take care of it.

Why not?

5/22/2006 09:37:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I haven't donated recently or for that matter enough. I'll make a point of passing on my gratuity in the near future. It is so easy to procrastinate. I cannot express my appreciation for your great work enough and the depths of my personal appreciation for what you bring into my life.

Best regards.


5/22/2006 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger HK Vol said...

Just remember.
Bush can't win.
Anytime he gets close to crossing the goal line.
Move the goal line someplace else!
Or so it always seems......

5/22/2006 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

The following quote from the scary Booman accurately paraphrases the Clinton Administration response to Al Qaeda in the 90's, as documented in the 9/11 Commission Report:

... only by announcing an intent to carry out a complete drawdown now can we limit the fallout and go some small way towards innoculating ourselves from the full measure of responsibility for the enormous tragedy that is about to ensure ...

In the 9/11 Commission Report, they are repeatedly quoted as worrying about - What if we try something and something bad happens as a reaction to our action - and then we get BLAMED for THAT!

I'm paraphrasing, but I'm not exaggerating, it was really as pathetic as that.

In November, 2004, a lawful majority of voters chose this President for four more years of this active defense posture.

5/22/2006 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

It all sounds good to me. A significant drawdown will send a message to the vast majority of Iraqis that a permanent occupation by the US is a big lie. There has to be a significant portion of the insurgency that is revenge related against the US forces. The test for the new government will be to demonstrate their will and capability. We will just have to wait and see. The permanently stretched sphincters on the left will do the predicatble but of more interest will be the response by Hillary. There is a real possibility that Kerry, Gore, Kennedy and like minded will switch on their hard left turn signals and overplay their hands. It will soon be clear that Iraqification works or does not. It is more and more going to be up to them and that is a good thing.

5/22/2006 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tony, check out my 6:04 PM in the Balkan's Post for an interesting link during Clinton years.
Guy's predictions for the future were pretty accurate.

5/22/2006 11:16:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

The check is ALWAYS in the ever-lovin' mail.

Can they afford to? Can they afford to not?

5/22/2006 11:20:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

They cannot.

5/22/2006 11:24:00 PM  

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