Saturday, December 16, 2006

You've got money. But what do you want to buy?

Victor Davis Hanson's comments at Pajamas Media on the utility of sending additional forces to Iraq contain two items whose importance can probably not be overemphasized.


Enlarge the planned Iraqi security forces to near 400,000, and embed far more Americans in those units.

Recalibrate the ratio of support to combat troops, so that we don’t simply create bigger compounds to facilitate larger troop levels to end up with more stationary and more numerous targets—and ever more enclaves of Americans behind thousands of acres of bermed reserves.

So spell out the mission, the new rules of engagement, and then, and only then, surge—if need be— more troops.

By far the single most critical item of the two is to "spell out the mission". US policy, up until now has been to establish a fairly democratic and preferably unitary successor state to Saddam as a follow-on to deposing the dictator. While Saddam has unquestionably been deposed, the possibility of a democratic successor state is fundamentally one that Iraqis must settle.

For as long a democratic Iraq remains an American goal the suggestion, "to embed far more Americans in those units" becomes important because it  helps prevent, or at least moderates, attempts by Iran and Shi'ite elements to turn Iraqi state organs into sectarian institutions. With Iraq already a formally independent country it is vital that America retain some direct leverage over local military institutions while the democratic character of the successor government remains a US goal. Ironically, a praetorian veto over sectarian politics is compelled for as long as Iraqi democracy remains an American goal if only to prevent the institutions it has established at great cost from being turned into vehicles of partisan warfare. While it may be true that consensusal democracy can't be established at the point of a gun, it is undeniable that nothing prevents the tyranny of guns so much as another gun -- in this case in American hands.

But if the US disavows any compelling interest in the democratic character of Iraq, the necessity to retain a direct influence over the Iraqi armed forces largely vanishes. Iraqi becomes simply another foreign country in the Middle East, whose internal politics is irrelevant, to be wooed or compelled by instruments of US power according to American geopolitical interest. In that case, it becomes conceivable, though inconceivably gruesome, to throw a net of military safety around the Kurds, let the Shi'ites and Sunnis settle accounts with arms folded, and then deal with the last group standing until it is amenable to American will, and conveniently settling the hash of the Sunni insurgency and checkmating Iranian ambitions at a stroke. This mentioned simply by way of illustration, not advocacy, to highlight how the utility of any proposed reinforcement varies with the mission. It is the mission that provides the standard for success and the guide for what the force should do.

The attempt to establish a democratic Iraq, however disappointing the experience has been so far, is unlikely to be abandoned very easily in the near future -- and perhaps not for as long as a the ghost of a shadow of a chance remains that it may be attained -- not only because the current administration is so invested in it, but because the alternatives of divide and rule and naked power politics, which would have been adopted without a second thought by Empires in the early 20th century, are too cold-blooded and heartless to be easily embraced by an American public which genuinely wishes the Iraqi people well.

42 Comments:

Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

W,

Welcome back.

embed far more Americans in those units

Why make targets? Why hostages to fortune?

Spell out the mission. Oh yes, please, please.

For as long a democratic Iraq remains an American goal Why is it an American goal? Why now? Why not in 200 years. Can culture change overnight? No. Don't set up criteria to fail.

it is undeniable that nothing prevents the tyranny of guns so much as another gun.

It is not guns. As in GWOT, guns are a mechanism. If you can't agree on the garbage collection routine, just where are you? It's the culture.

it becomes conceivable, though inconceivably gruesome, to throw a net of military safety around the Kurds, let the Shi'ites and Sunnis settle accounts with arms folded, and then deal with the last group standing until it is amenable to American will, and conveniently settling the hash of the Sunni insurgency and checkmating Iranian ambitions at a stroke. This is probably the worst way to settle the problem. It is also the most likely settlement. For a better way, see my comments at the bottom of the previous thread.

an American public which genuinely wishes the Iraqi people well. So true, so true.

Your post In Whose Image got to the heart of the decision matter - how do we define what's best, how do we decide on the best course of action?

First, one must recognise that one is as close to God as we will ever be. God is in our image.

Forced to make value judgements, we make them for us. Selfish, or just right? Sacaarrry.

ADE

12/17/2006 02:16:00 AM  
Blogger Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Better ask is VDH serious? He seems to think that victory requires more of the same that got us this far (and not an order of magnitude more, but 20% more).

Also, if raising divisions is so "cheap" as $6-8 billions, maybe it would make more sense to work on squeezing another 1.5% out of the existing $470 billion budget rather than adding?

12/17/2006 02:58:00 AM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

W,
will we do the right thing? I believe we will, and it will follow much of what you've laid out in your post.
it is necessary for us to not allow ourselves to slide from ugly americans to hated americans...
Powell said something along the lines of you break it, you fix it...

but the alternative:

break it x (fix it / american politics) = what the hell, let them fix it

is devolution...

I believe the foot soldiers, those with the most contact with those we're trying to help, understand this and it's slowly trickling up through the ranks...they are revulsed by the idea that we would abandon the cause at this point, simply because mainstream america can't stomach the trickle of deaths, which are historically low for armed engagements, after the sacrifices they themselves have made as well as the turmoil the Iraqi's have suffered...

...thank God for the many conscienable men serving our country in the armed services...they are the grass roots reason we will stick around a little longer...

...and it is time that Iraq needs; time for security, stability, and for people to resume going about their business, so that the private sector as well as the political system can reach critical mass for democracy to "take"

if there were simple solutions, I believe we would have come up with them by now; so, we must prepare ourselves for complexity...
...we can predict the weather; too bad we can't predict geopolitical outcomes any better...(let's see: constitutional form of government? private ownership vs state ownership? private enterprise as a % of GDP? homogeneity of politic outlook? number of internet portals? imports / exports? etc. etc.)

back on point, I believe these same men in uniform, if given a chance, can provide the leadership necessary to restore enough order that the Iraqi's are able to disassemble the barriers that have been erected as the situation has digressed into violence between sectarian clans...

these fine men run counter to the typical portrayal of amoral americans and their culture, and will naturally resonate with the uprightness of those of the moslem world, if we can get past initial impressions...
...in this war, isolation is the enemy, and there's no better way to break down barriers than for more elbow to elbow contact...

12/17/2006 02:59:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

orlandoslug said...

it is necessary for us to not allow ourselves to slide from ugly americans to hated americans...

Didn't work in france, Germany.

Everybody loves a winner? Not if you're second.

America will never be loved by most cultures. Why? Because they cannot compete.

in this war, isolation is the enemy, and there's no better way to break down barriers than for more elbow to elbow contact

Now you're not seriously suggesting outreach?

Ladies and gentlemen, we are at the breach.

ADE

12/17/2006 03:17:00 AM  
Blogger Mezzrow said...

Gerald Vanderleun has some words that preach to the choir here, but warrant our attention. His eloquence has expressed my thinking in a way I could not, as has the work of our good friend Wretchard.

"for all the ineptitude of the current administration, for all the expense in treasure and lives, this shoot-the-moon, Hail Mary of a foreign policy in Iraq is not just a policy to make America safer at home. It is the only thing that stands between Islam and its own destruction.

Sometime shortly after 9/11 in an online forum I frequented then, an exasperated idealist proclaimed that "After all, you can't kill a billion Muslims." Like so many others he spoke from somewhere outside History. History, especially the world's most recent history, shows us all how wrong that statement is. The hard truth is rather that, "Yes, if you really want to, you can."

And that is the most terrible and terrorizing thought of the 21st century."


Read the whole thing.

Toying With Genocide.

12/17/2006 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger sbw said...

ADE: how do we define what's best, how do we decide on the best course of action?

In the hopes we can reach some appreciation of what's going on, journalists have a job to do. To:
• Explain what in democracy is important.
• Explain why.
• Explain that those characteristics stand independent of democracy and are universally useful.
• Explain why those characteristics are important to others and to ourselves.
• Explain the tactics others use to threaten the underpinnings of society.
• Explain why.
• Explain the conditions that allow those threats to grow.
• Explain how to combat it.
After that, purpose and the courage to stand up come naturally.

12/17/2006 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> The attempt to establish a democratic Iraq ... is unlikely to be abandoned very easily in the near future

It shouldn't and won't be, because democracy is a tool for solving problems, not the solution itself. As the saying goes, "Politics is war fought by other means".

> it is undeniable that nothing prevents the tyranny of guns so much as another gun

And that's exactly what our purpose should be in remaining there. To prevent any Iraqi group or foreign country from taking over Iraq by force. To allow them time to negotiate.

But a key requirement is that we can stay for the long term by keeping our casualties down. The Iraqis need to be suffering, while we aren't. That is the incentive for them to come to peace.

12/17/2006 07:03:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> After all, you can't kill a billion Muslims."

We didn't win the Cold War by slaughtering all the Communists. We didn't win Afghanistan by slaughtering all the Afghans.

Unlike any Muslims, Red China has nuclear weapons pointed at us right now. Instead of threating to kill every Chinese person on Earth, we are giving them our money and jobs (via WalMart).

12/17/2006 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger Mezzrow said...

"We didn't win the Cold War by slaughtering all the Communists. We didn't win Afghanistan by slaughtering all the Afghans."

Exactly, WW. We won't WIN the War against Islam by slaughtering all the Muslims, either, but we will end it. Real the whole essay - we are not speaking of a rational act, but an irrational act - I believe Gerard calls it "the greatest sin against humanity that can be conceived."

Unlike any Muslims, Red China has nuclear weapons pointed at us right now. Instead of threating to kill every Chinese person on Earth, we are giving them our money and jobs (via WalMart).

But do the Chinese posture to our media and masses as an existential threat? They do things that "make sense" to us - they want to do business and make money. I don't feel nearly so threatened by China as Iran, for example. From a logical viewpoint, this is silly. But it seems to make sense to see China as rational and Iran as not. An irrational man on a plane with a boxcutter is much more dangerous than a rational man with a fully armed boomer.

The key of the essay is to see how we can move from where we are now to an irrational people willing to take this step to "just make it stop." We are seeing the force of that urge being expressed in recent events - project this to possible future events, if we continue on the present path and walk away from Iraq because we want to "just make it stop." If we get to this place, ensuing events will lose the ability to ever be defined as victory.

12/17/2006 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> The key of the essay is to see how we can move from where we are now to an irrational people willing to take this step to "just make it stop."

We are at an irrational stage now, and need to move to a saner one in order to protect ourselves. It is irrational to say that all Muslims are out to get us, that all terrorists are Muslims, and that attempting to slaughter billions would make us safer.

> I don't feel nearly so threatened by China as Iran,

We can say that Iran is a problem, and deal with it, without saying that every Muslim is a problem. They are having elections right now in Iran, and the conservative opposition to their wacky president is winning.

Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia are lining up against Iran / Hezbollah / Syria and have done so for years.

Some of our planes flying over Iraq right now were launched in friendly Arab countries.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

12/17/2006 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I have heard persons seriously assert that we can't compute terrorism because it doesn't fall into our mental models. That the West is in "tilt mode" -- for those who remember the pinball machines -- and some have argued from there that we need to experience a reset -- caused by the destruction of one or two American citizens -- or that we react in some unpredictable way ourselves.

The Iraqi situation interestingly hinges upon ineffable factors like the "Arab mind". And who knows what that is? That lends this whole debate a kind of surreal quality, replete with apocalyptic terms and a wild swing in tone between that of a strict parent talking to a retarded child or the fearful pleadings of a person before a stone, serial killer.

We don't really have a model for dealing with irrational actors. It's actually a contradiction in terms.

12/17/2006 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> We don't really have a model for dealing with irrational actors.

The Iraqis don't seem irrational to me. Now that Saddam's government is gone there is a power struggle, with players using both military and political means. In fact it seems a lot like the warlords in Afghanistan. The difference is that the Afghans have a history of political compromise (Loya Jirga), while the Iraqi factions had a dictator and genocide.

> I have heard persons seriously assert that we can't compute terrorism because it doesn't fall into our mental models.

Throughout US history we have faced attack from both kinds of enemies, terrorists and conventional armies. The "tilt mode" wasn't from 9/11 itself, but the improper way we reacted to it. Instead of treating it as just another threat, just another enemy, and dealing with it as we did in the past, some treated it as somethign special, a massive Muslim conspiracy, and 'world war III'.

We should go back to the rules and ways we fought in the past. We should use all political and military means to defend ourselves, not just conventional warfare. We should narrowly define our enemy as those specific countries and groups which are threatening us (i.e. Al Qaeda and Iran), not just "The Muslims are out to get us. The Islamists are coming." Our sole purpose of military fighting is self defense, not fighting an ideology and not launching preventative wars. (Preemptive wars have always been allowed under the laws of war, where there is clear proof of imminent enemy attack.)

12/17/2006 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Wretchard,

I think the most critical point of the essay was the last point made.

"The attempt to establish a democratic Iraq, however disappointing the experience has been so far, is unlikely to be abandoned very easily in the near future -- and perhaps not for as long as a the ghost of a shadow of a chance remains that it may be attained -- not only because the current administration is so invested in it, but because the alternatives of divide and rule and naked power politics, which would have been adopted without a second thought by Empires in the early 20th century, are too cold-blooded and heartless to be easily embraced by an American public which genuinely wishes the Iraqi people well."

It even took the Romans over a hundred years to 'go Roman' on Carthage in the Punic Wars.

Destroying the region, the culture, and the people of the region will change our region, our culture, and our people in ways I do not want to comprehend. It may come to past, but I would prefer history to determine that a Second Conjecture solution was not by choice.

12/17/2006 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Is this way to "victory" in Iraq? A Washington DC think tank has released a study which lots of politicians are talking about.

Link

We must send more American combat forces into Iraq and especially into Baghdad to support this operation. A surge of seven Army brigades and Marine regiments to support clear-and-hold operations starting in the Spring of 2007 is necessary, possible, and will be sufficient.
These forces, partnered with Iraqi units, will clear critical Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shi’a neighborhoods, primarily on the west side of the city.

...
This approach requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq:

The ground forces must accept longer tours for several years. National Guard units will have to accept increased deployments during this period.
Equipment shortages must be overcome by transferring equipment from non-deploying active duty, National Guard, and reserve units to those about to deploy. Military industry must be mobilized to provide replacement equipment sets urgently.
The president must request a substantial increase in ground forces end strength. This increase is vital to sustaining the morale of the combat forces by ensuring that relief is on the way. The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this age.


The document has some interesting descriptions of the players in Iraq:

Jayshal-Mahdi and other Sadrists

Objectives:
•Rivalry with other Shia factions for mastery of the Iraqi government post-Coalition withdrawal and imposition of Shia sharia law. To do so, they must conserve their fighting power after conventional defeat in 2004 and thus do not seek direct confrontation with the Coalition/ISF.
•Continue to coerce the withdrawal of Coalition forces through covert indirect attacks on the Coalition and some ISF, and put political and popular pressure agitating for Coalition withdrawal.
•Revenge killings of Sunni militants, and intimidation murder/torture of Sunni civilians to drive them from mixed districts, solidifying their own patronage network within cleared districts.

12/17/2006 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

OK, so we continue to attempt to foster democracy in Iraq. OK.

So what, exactly, is the line in the sand -- the "definition" -- that will tell us when that has been accomplished?

I mean, France has had how many revolutions and they are *still* not very good at that whole democracy thing. I don't want to still be in Iraq when they are rewriting their Constitution for the umpty-teenth time, having just had their forty-eleventh "revolution", a la France.

As you note, at a basic level, the whole notion *is* up to the Iraqi's to embrace and implement ... but we Americans have got to know what the target is that we're pitching toward to decide if we still want to fund it.

Frankly, as long as the elected Iraqi government is offering amnesty to terrorists and to Sunni's and to Sadr -- offering them a deal to play, and at the same time saying it's still OK for them to try to kill American soldiers in their off-time -- I'm not willing to embed any more soldiers NOR to spend a dime more on infrastructure / nation-building efforts.

Somehow the current Iraqi government has got to go before I'm willing to put any more emotional, physical, or financial support into that sandbox.

12/17/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Well, nahncee, you are now on the outside, looking in.
Mr al-Sadr is a major building bloc in the Iraqi Government, as well as it's Society.

Mr Bush says the US is there until we win, when the Prime Minister of the Iraqi Federal Government can stand alone. With his Army maintaining an effective "Monopoly of Force"

12/17/2006 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger sbw said...

We don't really have a model for dealing with irrational actors.

Mistaken premise. They are not irrational. Their rationality may be different, but I don't know for sure. It's also not necessarily permanent.

Which means all that is needed is a change of mind. What kind of a change of mind would be compelling for them? One that crystalizes their individual self-interest over the long term. One that recognizes that experts -- politicians, scientists, mullahs -- have been wrong before and likely can be wrong again. One that puts them in the process of decision-making.

12/17/2006 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> as long as the elected Iraqi government is offering amnesty to terrorists and to Sunni's and to Sadr

> Somehow the current Iraqi government has got to go before I'm willing to put any more emotional, physical, or financial support into that sandbox.

This could happen very soon. The Iraqi "moderates" are looking to kick Al Sadr out of the government ASAP. Since Iraq has a parliamentary system, they don't need to wait for an election, but can do this as soon as they get a majority in parliament to agree. Bush and the Iraqi Vice President agreed to the plan.

Iraqi Vice President and top Sunni official Tareq al-Hashemi backed any US bid to swing behind a realignment of moderate Sunni, Shiite and Kurd factions in Iraq's government...

Hashemi said he had asked Bush whether US leaders were fixated on the current "Plan A" political system, which he said had failed to quell violence and sectarianism, or were ready to think about "Plan B."

"He welcomed my views, and I think seriously the Americans are thinking about the alternatives," Hashemi said at the US Institute for Peace, adding that the current situation was plagued by "failures and loopholes."

He said he would accept a new alignment including his Iraq Islamic Party, the Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and moderate Kurdish parties...

The White House has acknowledged that, as Bush mulls a new US strategy in Iraq, he is trying to line up Iraqi leaders in a moderate bloc which sidelines radical groups.

"We talked in recent days about a moderate bloc that has Sunni, Shia and Kurdish leaders," White House spokesman Tony Snow said, after Bush called Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdish regional President Massud Barzani on Wednesday.



Link

I think this is the most critical thing, to have Iraqis from each faction, Sunni, Shiite, Kurd, fighting side by side and leading the fighting in Baghdad and everywhere else in Iraq. If the Iraqis were leading the fighting and dying for their country, I think the American People would support them for the long haul, just as happened when we saw their courage in voting, the purple thumbs. But it just won't work to have the US only fighting while all Iraqi factions shoot at us. No one in America would expect the Iraqis to be perfect fighters, but they do have to try.

12/17/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

So it was the Bush Administration which kept the military so small, opposing increases in the number of troops?

Another element of the "go big" idea is increasing the total size of the military. The chiefs of the Army and Marine Corps want to expand the size of their services, although departing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld opposed it. He cited an estimated cost of $1.2 billion a year for each 10,000 extra troops.

12/17/2006 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Wow,

The Net is Alive. I found a reference to this discussion at Bill Quick's site, Instapundit, and obviously VDH.

To summarize:

Going Roman the American Way...

Is it time for this discussion?

12/17/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

wu wei said. "I think this is the most critical thing, to have Iraqis from each faction, Sunni, Shiite, Kurd, fighting side by side and leading the fighting in Baghdad and everywhere else in Iraq. If the Iraqis were leading the fighting and dying for their country, I think the American People would support them for the long haul,"

You might consider that in addition to being of a different culture they as a culture are suffering from PTSD. They've just recently gotten out from under a 35 year Freddy Kruger story. And time is the one thing that is begrudged the most by the critics.

12/17/2006 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> the alternatives of divide and rule and naked power politics ... are too cold-blooded and heartless to be easily embraced by an American public

The American public strongly supported carpet bombing of Iraqis in Iraq War I, so there is no reason to doubt their will to fight and spill blood. The real problem is communication and leadership, that the President never suggested it in the first place.

I doubt if the the public would reject the idea of the Iraqis shooting each other. Indeed the biggest objection comes from the hawkish types like neo-cons who think it would be weakness to let the Iraqis fight their own battles instead of fighting it for them or preventing them from fighting at all.

It all goes back to what our mission is. The Bush administration seemed to say one thing and do another by all along talking about Iraqi self government, but then dragging their feet about elections and putting Iraqis in charge.

12/17/2006 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger sbw said...

Thucidides showed that one of the reasons Athens fell was dissention at home about how to proceed with their war. Americans need to unify themselves about what is worth standing up for, when, and why. And what is not.

Projecting what kind of world offers the best prospect of a stable future is essential. Recognizing what has failed in the past is equally important.

Along the way we've got education that does not value careful thought, so we'll have to point that out when we see it.

12/17/2006 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

mezzrow said...

I don't feel nearly so threatened by China as Iran

That's because the Chinese think they have a future. The Arabs/Persians know they have none if they want to continue to be Arabs/Persians.

We are looking at the implosion of a failed culture from Morocco to Manila. A culture believing it was the centre of the universe discovered it was irrelevant to humanity. Why is it that Europe ignores the 25% unemployed in Arab countries and flies half-way round the planet to its factories in China?

What better expression of hoplessness than to bring up your children to be suicide bombers?

ADE

12/17/2006 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger sbw said...

ADE: What better expression of hoplessness than to bring up your children to be suicide bombers?

From Jacob Bronowski's Magic, Science and Civilization: "My definition of magic is very simple. It is the view that there is a logic of everyday life, but there is also a logic of another world. And that other logic works in a different way and if you can only find the secret key, if you can enter into some magical practice -- particularly if you can find the right form of words -- then either the almighty will be on your side, or you will collect all the votes, or people will believe that because you call it peace, that it's not the same word as war, and all those other things that Orwell has portrayed so brilliantly but which really always come to the same thing: trying to command the world and particularly the opinions of other people by some formula which is other than the truth."

12/17/2006 03:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hanukkah: Beyond Reason

The Greek army won its wars using an almost invincible configuration called a phalanx -- a compact formation of overlapping shields and long spears. But in 140 BCE, a war lead by the less structured Jewish Maccabee brigades, (Hasmonean dynasty) tactics were devised and improvised upon to defeat the Greekphalanx.

12/17/2006 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hanukkah: Beyond Reason

The Greek army won its wars using an almost invincible configuration called a phalanx -- a compact formation of overlapping shields and long spears. But in 140 BCE, a war lead by the less structured Jewish Maccabee brigades, (Hasmonean dynasty) tactics were devised and improvised upon to defeat the Greek phalanx.

Happy Hanukkah

12/17/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is to prevent our embedded officers from getting savagely fragged/assassinated by covert-hostile elements? Things cd be going "splendidly" for 3 months, then a thousand advisers cd have their throats cut on al-Sadr's birthday.

What wd prevent it?

12/17/2006 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, at least 2,942 members of the U.S. military -- including three this week -- have died in Iraq, according to an Associated Press count.

There is also concern that the military benefits would be short-lived unless the higher troop levels were sustained for a long period, adding to the strain on U.S. forces. Alternatively, critics say, if the surge in troop levels was too brief, adversaries could simply wait for the reinforcements to leave.


Boost in Troops

12/17/2006 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Buzz said...

Sbw,
You aren't asking for journalists to be accurate and responsible are you? They don't get paid for that.
Why all the talk about going Roman on the bad guys. I say we give them what they are asking for. Many claim that we are crusading. Time to get medieval on they ass! How much would LM or Haliburton charge for a couple hundred catapults to place around Sadr city?

12/17/2006 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> You might consider that in addition to being of a different culture they [the Iraqis] as a culture are suffering from PTSD.

True, but they're the ones who are shooting at each other. All the problems in Iraq would quickly be solved if the Iraqis just ceased fire.

The Iraqi Army and Government won't keep their promises or cooperate with the US to reduce violence. This is from the Iraq Study Group's report about the recent "Operation Together Forward II" effort to secure Baghdad, which began in August:

U.S. forces can “clear” any neighborhood, but there are neither enough U.S. troops present nor enough support from Iraqi security forces to “hold” neighborhoods so cleared...

Perpetrators of violence leave neighborhoods in advance of security sweeps, only to filter back later. Iraqi police have been unable or unwilling to stop such infiltration and continuing violence. The Iraqi Army has provided only two out of the six battalions that it promised in August would join American forces in Baghdad. The Iraqi government has rejected sustained security operations in Sadr City.

12/17/2006 09:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you ask members of a society to stop shooting when martial-themed hootenannies are everywhere?

You will have to offer the Iraqis a hootenanny of a different kind, one celebrating something different than sectarian superiority.

You must get into their minds and into their economics, and then enough of their culture may follow. A new hootenanny tradition that does not applaud sectarian chauvanism may rise and values may change as a result of this. Dishdashas and thobes will whirl and, who knows, maybe even a little najis will creep into the song and dance

12/17/2006 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

orlandoslug - believe the foot soldiers, those with the most contact with those we're trying to help, understand this and it's slowly trickling up through the ranks...they are revulsed by the idea that we would abandon the cause at this point.

The foot soldiers are the last people politicans should look to for an impartial, objective appraisal if any war is being won. The Jap soldiers on Okinawa were convinced that the enemy had cleverly been lured to Japan's door only to better defeat them. All past territory Japan had lost was only part of the clever plan. The Nazi soldier was convinced they were slowly but surely beating the Soviets and after being pushed back 1,000 miles by the Red Army, told German press that the Soviets were on the verge of collapse. Our Confederates believed they were whupping Yankee butt and only tactically retreating in certain battles to prevail in others...right up to Sherman's march through the South.

In Iraq, it is our foot soldiers that are in denial, talking for three years running about "the people of Fallujah love us" and how "superb Iraqi cops and soldiers" are "doing a great job" as "freedom-lovers who want democracy just like we do".
****************************
Wu Wei is right. Democracy is not an end in itself. It is a tool and methodology used by some societies for resolving other problems. If it works, people will use it. If not, it is dropped as a failure. Just like terrorism is simply a tool used the same way.
************************
Wretchard (on abandoning the Iraqis to hash out their own society) - not only because the current administration is so invested in it, but because the alternatives of divide and rule and naked power politics, which would have been adopted without a second thought by Empires in the early 20th century, are too cold-blooded and heartless to be easily embraced by an American public which genuinely wishes the Iraqi people well."

I think the American public wished both the Iranian and Iraqi people well back 25 years ago too, yet also felt it was not imperative to get in the middle of their 1980-87 War to "save them from themselves".

I see the American public, for the most part, outside the ACLU Jews and various Lefties and academics Gentile and Jew alike - supporting
a US military that defends the nation - and accepting of our citizens sometimes dying and being maimed for that purpose. Same with the Aussies and Euros. But not for a military mission that exists only so noble freedom-loving IED using Muslims can be saved from the noble freedom-loving death squads and snipers of the other side by the tactic of Americans dying and spending hundreds of billions keeping them apart.

As for the idea we have to stay, or the ME is in chaos, which would "doom" America's interests - back in 1982 we had Israel in full invasion of Lebanon, The Iranian revolution spreading radical Islam, Iran-Iraq killing 100,000 a month, Afghanistan raging, the India-Pakistan limited war all going on at once. Plus Russia moving nuke missiles into Europe.

We dealt with it.

12/17/2006 11:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone who refuses to recognise the sheer reality that we are already at war with Syria and Iran as of now - albeit at the budding stage of proxy war - is delusional.

As such, their blatant funding of Hezbollah in Lebanon, assassination of Lebanese politicians, rearming Palestinian militants and Hamas, resupplying and training Shiite militias and death squads in Iraq - undeniable casus belli for us to seize the initiative and start taking out our enemies - clearly defined as those who would threaten stability - Shiite or Sunni.

From what I can gather so far, the inevitability of the scenario in which we are forced to back Sadrist militias and death squads in support for Iraqi sovereignty against al-Hakim's Badr Brigades and Iranian hegemony with which it threatens to foist upon Iraqis is evidently already proceeding towards manifestation.

Here's where we abandon – not the Iraqis – our appeasement strategy with the militias, because if we can hardly control factors that are out of our control – in this case, Iran, Syria and possibly the Saudis in the future – then we might as well start eradicating the established patrons of such external aid.

The Shiites either play by our rules, or we deal with them in the only language they understand: force. Shiites, and by extension Sunnis, Kurds and all of Iraq value their nation's sovereignty – heck, even if they don't, we do!

12/18/2006 12:33:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> The Shiites either play by our rules, or we deal with them in the only language they understand: force

OK, the Shiites are bad guys, but what about the Sunnis? They are the sponsors of Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein's group, the original and continuing insurgency in Iraq, and the one which attacked Americans the most in Iraq.

Are the Kurds the good guys? The US and Kurds have no problems, but neighbors like Iran and Turkey accuse the Iraqi Kurds of harboring Kurdish terrorists who attack them.

So the problem is that there are no good guys in Iraq. Even if we wiped everyone in Iraq out, an evil neighbor like Iran would take over.

12/18/2006 01:00:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Well said, C4

We dealt with it.

Yes we did, by ignoring the brats.

Why, why, why are a few thousand of the most backward cultures on the planet tying up the most powerful?

Because we want it. In a perverse way (I could be getting Foucault-off on this) we (yes, even BCers) desperately seem to be needed, to be wanted, to be loved, to make a difference.

On the local TV, I've just seen Hammas in "training" to take on Fatah. Hilarious. The training was to the Marines as air guitar is to Jimi Hendrix.

We must send the message to the Iraqis that we only care about their oil, because that's all they have to offer.

And isn't that true?

Even more to the point, isn't it moral?

ADE

12/18/2006 01:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>wu wei

I believe that we indeed agreed on the view that there were no "bad guys" a few weeks back on a BC thread as well, so I share your view.

I addressed the problem with the Sunnis via the link I provided in the previous post, thanks to kris sargent at American Future.

12/18/2006 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

What is to prevent our embedded officers from getting savagely fragged/assassinated by covert-hostile elements? Things cd be going "splendidly" for 3 months, then a thousand advisers cd have their throats cut on al-Sadr's birthday.

What wd prevent it?


Because they're afraid to go up against Americans one-on-one? Or even ten on one. I just simply have never seen the gonads shown by any Arab in any country to accomplish what you are describing -- except maybe for hopped-up lunatics, and *they* wouldn't be able to hide their hopped-upedness for any length of time.

In one of the Iraq blogs recently, the writer was bemoaning how bad the situation in Baghdad is and getting worse. He wrote that, indeed, on certain streets now it is so bad "that no one from either side can go there, but Americans."

12/18/2006 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cedarford wrote, "...back in 1982 we had Israel in full invasion of Lebanon, The Iranian revolution spreading radical Islam, Iran-Iraq killing 100,000 a month, Afghanistan raging, the India-Pakistan limited war all going on at once. Plus Russia moving nuke missiles into Europe. We dealt with it."

Thanks to Ronnie we had 560 ships, 16 Carrier battle groups, 18 active duty army and three active duty marine divisions to deal with it. It was Bush 41 and Clintoon who had the "End of History Fire Sale". I saw my base go from 3,500 people down to 1,200.

12/18/2006 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

I think it's important that we recognize the difference between strategy and tactics.

One of the serious problems with "increase troops" is that it's repeated as if it's a strategy when it's merely a tactic.

spelling out the mission is the way to define our stategy.

bush, right or wrong, had a specific strategy. towards that end, rumsfeld had tactics.

that strategy is what Wretchard spells out: depose Hussein, create some democratic structures for iraq while trying to hunt down Al Qaeda.

rumsfeld had tactics: : let the iraqis and state dept and ngos handle building iraq, and counter the insurgency with an insurgency. use special forces, stryker bcts, and any other groups to attack like lightning and melt away.

the generals in the Army hated this, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the required change of doctrine. they wanted different tactics. they aren't thinking about strategy--they aren't politicians. it's above their pay grade to handle the president's strategy.

rumsfeld wanted to know how to measure success. he talked about defining metrics. two of those are: how many net jihadists are there, i.e. how many are being killed - how many are being created--and how many casualties are there.

he believes even now that increasing troops worsens the latter metric withouut improving theh former. I'd bet he had data to support it.

Changing tactics without assessing the metrics will fail, just as changing tactics without a change in strategy will fail. and the debate about irrational actors goes back to what other strategic options really exist.

btw, was rumsfeld's set of tactics wrong? it's not clear they were ever really tried.

12/18/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Griswel said...

Wretchard said: "We don't really have a model for dealing with irrational actors. It's actually a contradiction in terms."

We do have a very bad working model - everytime a terrorist blows people up in Iraq, our current working model gives less support to the US and more to the terrorist.

We don't have to re-define our terms of victory so much as we have to re-define theirs. We cannot prevail if they win simply by murdering innocent people.

12/19/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

The only thing we haven't tried is killing people. A lot of people. We know who they are; the Arabs know how to choose sides, and respect strength. This is a fact. Moqtada al-Sadr should be liquidated, and his army destroyed, WHETHER OR NOT THEY RUN HOME TO THEIR VICIOUS WIVES AND NASTY LITTLE FUTURE SADRISTS. Not "destroy the village to save it," but "destroy the city to save the country." This, of course, is the rule. All of these fucking advisors, all of these Cordesmans and Trishes, all of these fucking think tanks, acting as if the world had never been put into reasonable order before their lovely international-preoccupied hippy bullshit fests exists to instruct all of us.

This is beyond stupid, and the solution is obvious: start fucking killing people. When you stop killing people, you can collect all of those fucking AK47s - AK47s! a gun capable of inflicting video-game levels of destruction in even the hands of a complete incompetent - and melt them down.

This idea began with democracy-building because (1) buying dictators did not work, and (2) simply abandoning places did not work. Well then the only thing left is to either (1) build a democracy, painful as that may be, or (2) nuke them from orbit. I don't to nuke anyone from orbit, excpet maybe the Russians, but you cannot simply allow the democratic impulse free reign before you have taught it the pain of failure. This is not nearly enough pain, this crappy little inter-tribe, inter-sect, quasi-mafiosi warfare - half of them love this shit, and it does no good to insist otherwise. So let's get to killing. After all, we know pretty much exactly and who and where these people are. Of course we do.

12/19/2006 10:27:00 AM  

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