Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The President's Forthcoming Speech on Iraq

The Office of Public Liaison has sent this preview of the President's speech on Iraq out to bloggers. I have included it after "More". I think that the informed reader who asked us on January 1 to consider the AEI plan presented by Fred Kagan as containing the outlines of the President's plan was substantially correct. My thanks to him for the heads up. But recall that our informed reader also had reservations about the surge plan. I am reprinting his comments from that day for reference.


I noted this post at The Small Wars Journal with interest a couple of weeks ago. Since then, every couple of days there has been a news story leading me to believe that the plan developed by General Keane and Fred Kagan at AEI is the one that the President is going to adopt and announce in January.

Some of these signs: statements by Bush at a press conference before Christmas; a dramatic increase in op-eds by Kagan in nearly every major newspaper, including some British ones; stories in outlets such as the NYT alluding to possible force increases; Gates' well-publicized trip to Iraq, with the ostensible conclusion that larger forces are needed; and now, Joe Lieberman's op-ed in the Washington Post (which is linked on Instapundit), calling for a larger force.

I encourage you all to follow the links to the AEI plan and read it -- it's a ppt presentation and in classic Pentagon course-of-action style -- indicating that it has been wargamed by military officers, not just academics or civilians such as the ISG.

I don't have time to blog about this, but these are my thoughts:

a) the plan calls for a surge in forces, but what is less publicized is the manner in which this surge will be sustained: by increasing the rotation time of Marine units from 7 to 12 months and Army units from 12-15 months. I wonder if this detail is the reason why the President is waiting until after Christmas to announce. Anyway, this jives with what I am hearing from several sources on the need for longer rotations for Marine units, due to the nature of counterinsurgencies and the length of time required to build trusted local networks.

b) the plan calls for what is a shift in mission: from a priority of training Iraqi forces to a priority of providing a secure environment for the people. This might get lost in the coverage, which will dwell upon the increase in forces -- along with cries of "escalation" a la Vietnam. But it is a very important shift. The coming year might see some new battles possibly on the scale of that of Fallujah in 2004, but this time in both Baghdad and Ramadi. This is a guess though and is not crystal clear in the plan -- the battles could also be smaller in scale, given the strengths of Iraqi forces in some areas.

c) finally, I feel the plan is not detailed enough when destructing reconstruction: the "build" part of "clear, hold, and build." There needs to be a dramatic decentralization of funding, a renewed commitment to the CERP program; full staffing of provincial reconstruction teams; and the USAID and State Dept need to become expeditionary and fully staffed virtually overnight -- there's no reason why USAID personnel shouldn't be asked to work at the company level. My thoughts here are not enough. I'm not a reconstruction expert. But several Marine officer friends have noted this problem. Robert Kaplan did so as well in an Atlantic piece not long ago. Basically, the rest of the elements of national power are not present on the battlefield in the ways that they should be.

I could be way off the mark: Bush might propose something completely different. But I'm calling this one: he's going with the AEI plan, perhaps with some modifications.


The Pre-speech briefing


The President's New Iraq Strategy Is Rooted In Six Fundamental Elements:

1. Let the Iraqis lead; 2. Help Iraqis protect the population; 3. Isolate extremists; 4. Create space for political progress; 5. Diversify political and economic efforts; and 6. Situate the strategy in a regional approach.

Ø The Consequences Of Failure In Iraq Could Not Be Graver – The War On Terror Cannot Be Won If We Fail In Iraq. Our enemies throughout the Middle East are trying to defeat us in Iraq. If we step back now, the problems in Iraq will become more lethal, and make our troops fight an uglier battle than we are seeing today.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Security


· Publicly acknowledge all parties are responsible for quelling sectarian violence.

· Work with additional Coalition help to regain control of the capital and protect the Iraqi population.

· Deliver necessary Iraqi forces for Baghdad and protect those forces from political interference.

· Commit to intensify efforts to build balanced security forces throughout the nation that provide security even-handedly for all Iraqis.

· Plan and fund eventual demobilization program for militias.


· Agree that helping Iraqis to provide population security is necessary to enable accelerated transition and political progress.

· Provide additional military and civilian resources to accomplish this mission.

· Increase efforts to support tribes willing to help Iraqis fight Al Qaeda in Anbar.

· Accelerate and expand the embed program while minimizing risk to participants.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:

· Continue counter-terror operations against Al Qaeda and insurgent organizations.

· Take more vigorous action against death squad networks.

· Accelerate transition to Iraqi responsibility and increase Iraqi ownership.

· Increase Iraqi security force capacity – both size and effectiveness – from 10 to 13 Army divisions, 36 to 41 Army Brigades, and 112 to 132 Army Battalions.

* Establish a National Operations Center, National Counterterrorism Force, and National Strike Force. * Reform the Ministry of Interior to increase transparency and accountability and transform the National Police.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Political


· The Government of Iraq commits to:

o Reform its cabinet to provide even-handed service delivery.

* Act on promised reconciliation initiatives (oil law, de-Baathification law, Provincial elections). * Give Coalition and ISF authority to pursue ALL extremists.

· All Iraqi leaders support reconciliation.

· Moderate coalition emerges as strong base of support for unity government.


· Support political moderates so they can take on the extremists.

o Build and sustain strategic partnerships with moderate Shi'a, Sunnis, and Kurds.

· Support the national compact and key elements of reconciliation with Iraqis in the lead.

· Diversify U.S. efforts to foster political accommodation outside Baghdad (more flexibility for local commanders and civilian leaders).

* Expand and increase the flexibility of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) footprint. * Focus U.S. political, security, and economic resources at local level to open space for moderates, with initial priority to Baghdad and Anbar.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:

· Partnership between Prime Minister Maliki, Iraqi moderates, and the United States where all parties are clear on expectations and responsibilities.

· Strengthen the rule of law and combat corruption.

· Build on security gains to foster local and national political accommodations.

· Make Iraqi institutions even-handed, serving all of Iraq's communities on an impartial basis.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Economic


· Deliver economic resources and provide essential services to all areas and communities.

· Enact hydrocarbons law to promote investment, national unity, and reconciliation.

· Capitalize and execute jobs-producing programs.

· Match U.S. efforts to create jobs with longer term sustainable Iraqi programs.

· Focus more economic effort on relatively secure areas as a magnet for employment and growth.


· Refocus efforts to help Iraqis build capacity in areas vital to success of the government (e.g. budget execution, key ministries).

· Decentralize efforts to build Iraqi capacities outside the Green Zone.

* Double the number of PRTs and civilians serving outside the Green Zone. * Establish PRT-capability within maneuver Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs).

· Greater integration of economic strategy with military effort.

* Joint civil-military plans devised by PRT and BCT. * Remove legal and bureaucratic barriers to maximize cooperation and flexibility.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Regional


· Vigorously engage Arab states.

· Take the lead in establishing a regional forum to give support and help from the neighborhood.

· Counter negative foreign activity in Iraq.

· Increase efforts to counter PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party).


· Intensify efforts to counter Iranian and Syrian influence inside Iraq.

· Increase military presence in the region.

· Strengthen defense ties with partner states in the region.

· Encourage Arab state support to Government of Iraq.

· Continue efforts to help manage relations between Iraq and Turkey.

· Continue to seek the region's full support in the War on Terror.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:

· Focus on the International Compact.

· Retain active U.N. engagement in Iraq – particularly for election support and constitutional review.


Blogger Dan said...

A good speech, I think. If it portends - as headlines have today suggested - a move against death squads for the purpose of Slaughtering them Like Sacrificial Animals, which is what I gently interpret it to mean, then good. If such a decision continues to rest with the intolerable Arab al-Maliki the Manipulative Dishonorable Utterly Typical Pissant, then that is a tragic flaw which will undermine our efforts. Still, the tone lingers that his thinking defers in part to the puerile political sentiments of his utterly irrational, pathologically ideological opponents. This is a mistake, though probably one which political prudence urges in a manner that cannot be avoided. That is a shame; history will be unjust if it does nor record the shame such personalities bring on our decent country. We are the most powerful nation in history, with many times other nations' collective power in any dimension. We have 300 million people. We have waged a war in the second-most barbarous of human enclaves without atrocities, itself an achievement so underappreciated as to itself indicate the pathetic and pathetically captive state of our public intelligence. If there were ever a time to disregard that sentiment, it is now; conceding defeat to an enemy who has merely, comparatively speaking, annoyed the shit out of us is Beyond Stupid; it is even beyond a Mistake. We are not Europe; we have not earned the suicidally cynical perspective to which that continent's inability to elegantly achieve modernity has apparently consigned it. So good speech! Let is be followed by much discrete and manly bloodshed, and the settling of many accounts long ovedrawn.

1/10/2007 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Much of the President's plan does seem to be the Kagan plan. However unlike the Kagan plan, this article indicates that we will clear Sadr City and disarm all militias.

Maliki: disarm militias

What President Bush doesn't seem to realize is that the biggest risk is here at home in America, that the Democrats could cut funding for the war off. His speech was a disaster, a totally missed opportunity. He could have rolled up his sleeves and spent an hour talking to the American people, straight talk. Instead he gave a standard, short speech. The words are good, but they are so dry and generic that they don't connect.

The Democrats have already (falsely) defined this as more of the same, just throwing 20,000 troops into the battle, and a last chance. Bush could have shown that this is our military's strategy for fighting terror, a comprehensive plan. He could have said in plain language the risks from Al Qaeda building base camps in Iraq. (He did say it in different words, but just read mechanically as part of a speech, it won't sink in.)

1/10/2007 06:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll get another crackdown by US forces, and Mucktada al-Sadr will say he wants to work through the political process again. A few weeks later a Shi'ite mosque will get torched, or a hundred Shi'ites will get blown to bits standing in line for a job, and Sadr is right back at it with death squads. The US forces will round up the usual suspects, hand them over to Maliki, and if they are Shi'ites they will go free the same day. This injustice will set the bloody pendulum swinging back again. Meanwhile the country is gradually being ethnically cleansed of Sunnis, because the oil revenues will be distributed based on demographics. The refugees who are left inside Iraq will stew in their self-inflicted despair and you will have the Palestinian problem all over again, with Iran funding one side and Saudi Arabia funding the other, and US forces caught in the middle.

1/10/2007 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

One other interesting thing about this speech is that the President was very strong about Iran and Syria, including "action" like adding another carrier group. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

In many ways President Bush doesn't have anything to lose now, by taking the gloves off and fighting. However, the weak link will be the Republicans in Congress. The media will be putting pressure on them, looking for any excuse to stop this.

Politically, the media and the Democrats know that that the stakes for this are immense. If President Bush can turn this around and show a clear win, the Democrats will be crushed and will lose one of not both Houses of Congress next election. But if things go poorly or even just stay the same, Republicans in Congress will start turning against the war (some already have), and that will cause a circular firing squad with Republicans who want to keep fighting vs. those who want to quit. Either way, Republicans would be torn apart in the elections, which is what the Democrats are hoping for.

Even more importantly, a failure here would hurt us badly in the war on terror. Like after Vietnam, politicians would be afraid to fight. The Democrat's pacifism would rule. We would let the enemy get stronger and stronger until finally America was attacked again.

The sad thing about all this is that the problem isn't military, but that President Bush is the most inept politician in history, or at least has been over the last few years. I don't mean his views on the issues, but his total lack of communication, attacks on the Democrats, etc.

1/10/2007 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

The speech was good, and in some ways absolutely incredible.

What is the last time you heard a politician say that one problem was that our forces had been too restrained by "political and other" considerations?

Normally, when a plan gets in trouble the answer both in the US Military and from the politicians is:
Impose new additional restrictions, hold more briefings on why the restrictions are important and add extra layers of review and oversight.

This is true whether it is the F-111 program not being able to meet its objectives, a Space Shuttle blowing up, or an overworked O-5 in the Pentagon forgetting to lock up all the classified one night.

"Political and other restrictions" are what DC is all about. To toss that sacred cow on the BBQ fire is Just Not Done. Incredible!

1/10/2007 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

WW, it's only a speech. It hardly matters what he said. The Dems can't stop him from his plan, his surge, whatever. What matters is what happens on the ground in Iraq.

What the people want is for the US to win.

If we don't win then let's go home. If we don't win, we're all Democrats and we were against this war from the start.

Frankly, if we do win now, then Rumsfeld was an idiot, the generals were pansies, and we should have taken this course of action, whatever it really turns out to be, two or three years ago.

1/10/2007 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Tom_Holsinger said...

The decision to use the additional “surged” American forces only to support the all or almost all-Iraqi Iraqi units in cleaning out hostile areas in Baghdad causes me to suspect that the Iraqi units won’t limit their attention to hostile forces. They might also, once the hostile militias have been temporarily curbed, drive the Sunni Arab civilians out of Baghdad (which American forces can't do), to permanently end the terrorism there made possible by support from the Sunni Arab population. This Strategy Page article - - supports my suspicion. Elimination of almost all terrorism in Baghdad would cripple the Mainstream Media’s ability to adversely report events in Iraq. This hypothesis would support multiple Allied objectives.

1/10/2007 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

It is very possible that the Democrats will prevent some of the "surge". Bush will get the first troops, the ones deploying immediately, but the Democrats are already targeting the later ones. Next week they will force a vote opposing the extra troops, maybe even cutting funding, and they'll get at least 10 republican senators.

1/10/2007 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Former Spook criticizes those call for more or fewer troops on the basis of whether it suits their political spin. And he gives examples.

1/10/2007 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Craigicus said...

2007 doesn't bring us the same situation as 2004 brought us.

Religious Extremists and Saddam's forces that were assigned to join them have been drastically and destructively drawn-down.

Sunni power in Bagdhad shrank considerably. It seems possible that there could be a Sunni-free Iraqi Capital.

Shia have tasted the sweet nectar of primary power.

We here in the U.S. somehow work on a Disneyworld index -- we ask ourselves how far Iraq has gone to become Disneyworld. We give ourselves a failing grade of -2% and the discussion is heavily dosed with words of failure.

Bush was right to say the Baath/Al Qaeda antagonism and incitement did finally succeed in a self-sustaining round of sectarian warfare. Reminds me of some of the US Civil War stories pre-war and post-war.

Bush has given up trying to convince people that we are "winning" but we aren't as far away from "winning" as the current US national discussion indicates.

If Bush says "we want to get out soon", the Dems say "we want to get out sooner!". What is more remarkable to me is that the Dems have stopped trying to please the tree-hugger pacifist crowd.

In the end it is all going to rest on Iraqi shoulders.

In the most recent edition of Foreign Affairs, Lee Kwan Yew says that mistakes were made in Viet Nam but where the US is today amounts to a victory. He doesn't see the Iraq situation as lost either. I tend to agree and I have some good hope to see how we proceed for the next few years.

1/10/2007 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Personally, I am convinced that al-Sadr watched the speech on CNN, with his translators busilily working through every nuance of GWB's version of english. And I hope that al-Sadr "see's the light" and agrees to US/Iraq terms. If he does, he will likely have a strong presence in Iraq politics near-term, and long-term he will probably run for office.

But it is also possible that al-Sadr is really just a Shiia loon cleric who will get himself and his followers killed - for nothing. And neither Iran or the Democrats will be able to rescue him. After all, the election is over.

I am so thankful that GWB is president. I shudder to think what would happen if any of the Democrats of the last 20 years were in the Oval office.

I only wish that GWB had done this earlier so as to blunt Al-Qaeda's victory in the US elections.

1/10/2007 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

The Democrats cut funding at great peril, and they know it. Bush holds all the trump cards. They want anything out of this term of Congress, they have to play ball with the President. He still has the veto pen and the Dems have no where near the votes to override it. They will "pose" for the cameras, the President will deal for what he wants. Personally, I hope the Dems cut off funding. That will doom any chance they have of regaining the White House in '08 and will probably cost them the House and the Senate.

1/11/2007 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> The Democrats cut funding at great peril, and they know it.

Yes, very true. But if the Democrats and most of the Republicans cut funding, then the Democrats win big time. There are already at least 10 Republican Senators (20%) willing to vote against the idea of a surge. Over time, Democrats hope to grow that into most Republicans voting to cut off funding.

1/11/2007 12:51:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Will there be enough troops? The formula is something like one soldier per every 40 or 50 inhabitants, which would be 150,000 soldiers for all of Baghdad. The Kagan plan assumed that we would only do a part of Baghdad, and we would skip Sadr City.

But the new Bush plan seems to include Sadr, so we would have something like 38,000 troops for 6,000,000 people, which is a ratio of 150 to 1.

The assumption is that the Iraqi Army will make up the difference, but can we count on them?

Here is a quote from an article:

Combat in the Streets

Most of all, the White House's insistence on confronting all insurgents and militias, both Sunni and Shiite, may mean that the U.S. military will wind up fighting the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. That militia is estimated by some U.S. intelligence officials to have grown over the past year to about 60,000 fighters, and some in the Pentagon consider it more militarily effective than the Iraqi army. Fighting it could resemble on a citywide scale the sharp combat that took place this week along central Baghdad's Haifa Street, in which U.S. jets and attack helicopters conducted airstrikes just north of the U.S. Embassy in the protected Green Zone.

"There will be more violence than usual because of the surge, and a surge with more casualties plays up on the international stage," said a senior Army official. Sadr "is going to have to make a choice, and if he decides on a confrontation, it will be pretty significant," added a senior Pentagon official.

Sadr is one of the most powerful figures in the Iraqi government, and he has forced it and the U.S. military to back down in the past. Yet if the Mahdi Army is not confronted, the entire offensive may falter and the sectarian conflict may intensify, because Sunnis will feel it is just one more way of attacking them while letting Shiite death squads go free, military experts said. "If our troops do not enter Sadr City, they belittle the notion of a surge because they would leave a leading militia unscathed," said Patrick Cronin of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a defense think tank.

The last time the U.S. military fought both Sunni and Shiite elements in Iraq was the spring of 2004, which became one of the most difficult times in the war. U.S. commanders were stunned to face a two-front conflict against Sunni insurgents in Anbar province and Shiites in Baghdad and across a broad swath of south-central Iraq. Troops from the Army's 1st Cavalry Division fighting in Sadr's stronghold of about 2 million Shiites in eastern Baghdad became enmeshed in a series of clashes resembling the movie "Black Hawk Down." Sadr's militias besieged isolated U.S. patrols and took over police stations, schools and municipal buildings.

1/11/2007 01:25:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

After carefully reading Presidents Bush's address I agree with RWE that it was a very forceful.

Now, the words have been spoken the actions must follow!

I have no illusion that it will be easy. There is just too much oil money on the table for various states and proxies to stay out of the fight. Bush must now put the heat to the enemy - in all areas. Losing Iraq and its oil supplies to the enemy is unacceptable.

Bush stated: " We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. That is easy to say but difficult to do without carrying the fight to the enemy. In WWII that is exactly what we did. We will probably have to do so in this war.

I would like to see a heavy penality applied to Iran for every deadly armor penetrating booby-trap that is exploded in Iraq. Say, a Iranian submarine lost or an Iranian air defense system destroyed. For every act of armed aggression by Iran's proxies there should be a reciprocal act. It's they only way they will learn.

The rest of Bush's address made good sense. This would include cleaning-out Baghdad and neutralizing the warlords such as al-Sadr (who hides behind a religious facade). Thugs like Sadar must feel the Eagle's Talons. To repeat, this is the only way they will learn.

I would picture "winning" as Sadr being in a spider hole and Dinnerjacket spending 80% of his day grappling with exploding ammo dumps and rebellions in his own back yard.

1/11/2007 03:40:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Action against Iran has begun.

US Raids Iranian office

U.S. forces raided the Iranian consulate office in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on Thursday and arrested five employees, the official Iranian news agency IRNA said.

There was no immediate comment by the U.S. military on the raid which came hours after President George W. Bush vowed in a speech to interrupt what he called the "flow of support" from Iran and Syria for insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.

The raid was the second such operation in the past month against Iranian interests in Iraq by U.S. forces.

1/11/2007 03:48:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

It's all doomed to failure.

"Insurgents", "Shiites", "Sunnis", "Iranians", "Anbar Provincers", "Uncle Tom Cobly and All ers" will sink into the woodwork as the pressure builds, only to emerge at the instant anybody says "I think it's working".

Americans, the gobshites don't deserve your sacrifice.


1/11/2007 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

President Bush needs to realize just how much trouble he is win. A poll taken after last night's speech shows that "a narrow majority, 53 percent, think Congressional Democrats -- controlling House and Senate majorities for the first time in the Bush presidency -- should try to block Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq."!! The poll also said "most Americans do not think Bush's new plan makes it more likely the U.S. will win in Iraq; only 36 percent think so. Nor do they think a troop increase is likely to end the war more quickly; just three in 10 think it will. In both cases, about half the public says the new strategy will not make much difference.".

If Bush had a longer speech he could have explained all these things, and fought the Democrats' lies. Lots of people don't even realize that the troop levels have always gone up and down. So they believe the Democrats that this is a desperate attempt to save the war by adding 21,000 troops. They don't understand it is to fight the Battle of Baghdad so they believe the crap about "21,000 more can't help". Bush could have called the Democrats hypocrites for supporting a troop increase and mission to Baghdad in Summer, but not now.

Bush could have said this is part of a strategy, the Army's counterinsurgency plan, and that we are fighting for ourselves, not the Iraqis. He could have said that the counter insurgency plan says the key goal is to protect the people, so protecting Baghdad is critical, and it really could make a difference in the war.

Bush just ends up preaching to the choir. Some of the people who already agreed with him, understand what he meant in the speech. The rest drift away, ending up believing the Democrat's lies. Bush never wins anyone back, so his approval rating just go down and down.

1/11/2007 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

The public doesn't automatically turn against the war, and it doesn't happen because they are "weak". It's because the Democrats work night and day against the war, while Bush and Congressional Republicans do nothing.

From an article:

Also Thursday, a coalition of labor, anti-war groups and liberal organizations planned to announce a multimillion-dollar advertising and grass-roots campaign against the commitment of extra troops.

1/11/2007 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Wu Wei said...

"They don't understand it is to fight the Battle of Baghdad"

Actually, the Democrats understand precisely. It's Bush who doesn't understand that it will not work. His heart is in the right place, and on the day, he presents well.

He just can't say the words "We hate you".

I can't either. When I'm holding court (with long-suffering wife), I too beat around the bush (to coin a phrase). I want people to love me (pace, BCers).

But what it will take to win this is the opposite of love. "Kill Japs", mutatis mutandis.

Why is life so horrible? Because I want to live, I want US to live. Others? You are with me or against me!


1/11/2007 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> It's Bush who doesn't understand that it will not work.

No, what people don't understand is that according to the US Army textbook on fighting insurgents, defending Baghdad is exactly the right thing to do. It is the #1 priority, defending the population.

1/11/2007 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

The Long War will only be won when it is possible for a US President to stand up and say

"We Hate You, we detest everything you stand for"

and be re-elected to acclaim.

So the first front is here.

Remind me, where's Baghdad. Oh, it's on that oil. Give it a while.


1/11/2007 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> "We Hate You, we detest everything you stand for"

Who is "you"? Who is the enemy? I have asked that many, many times but no one will answer. Every Muslim? Every Arab? Everyone in Iraq who owns a gun?

No matter how much we pretend, it isn't simple. The Sunnis have been slaughtering the Shiites, including civilians for years -- does that give Shiite militias the right to bear arm? Do we help the Shiite groups related to Iranian global terrorism, or the Sunni groups which ally with Al Qaeda's global terrorism? Do we prop up the government of Iraq if it shows itself to be a Shiite-only government which slaughters Sunnis like Hitler killed Jews?

1/11/2007 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

David Brook writes the following in his editorial today in the NYT. It seems to be an accurate presentation of what Bush proposed:

" Nonetheless, here’s my reconstruction of how this policy evolved:

On Nov. 30, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki presented Bush with a new security plan for Baghdad. It called for U.S. troops to move out of Baghdad to the periphery, where they would chase down Sunni terrorists. Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish troops, meanwhile, would flood into the city to establish order, at least as they define it.

Maliki essentially wanted the American troops protecting his flank but out of his hair. He didn’t want U.S. soldiers embedded with his own. He didn’t want American generals hovering over his shoulder. His government didn’t want any restraints on Shiite might.

Over the next weeks, Bush rejected the plan and opted for the opposite approach. Instead of handing counterinsurgency over to the Iraqis/Shiites, he decided to throw roughly 20,000 U.S. troops — everything he had available — into Baghdad. He and his advisers negotiated new rules of engagement to make it easier to go after Shiites as well as Sunnis. He selected two aggressive counterinsurgency commanders, David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno, to lead the effort. Odierno recently told John Burns of The Times that American forces would remain in cleared areas of Baghdad “24/7,” suggesting a heavy U.S. presence.

Then came the job of selling the plan. The administration could not go before the world and say that the president had decided to overrule the sovereign nation of Iraq. Officials could not tell wavering Republicans that the president was proposing a heavy, U.S.-led approach.

Thus, administration officials are saying that they have adopted the Maliki plan, just with a few minor tweaks. In briefings and in the president’s speech, officials claimed that this was an Iraqi-designed plan, that Iraqi troops would take on all the primary roles in clearing and holding neighborhoods, that Iraqis in mixed neighborhoods would scarcely see any additional Americans.

All of this is designed to soothe the wounded pride of the Maliki government, and to make the U.S. offensive seem less arduous at home. It’s the opposite of the truth.

Yesterday, administration officials were praising Maliki lavishly. He wants the same things we want, they claimed. He has resolved to lead a nonsectarian government. He is reworking his governing coalitions and marginalizing the extremists. “We’ve seen the nascent rise of a moderate political bloc,” one senior administration official said yesterday.

But the selling of the plan illustrates that this is not the whole story. The Iraqi government wants a unified non-sectarian solution in high-minded statements and in some distant, ideal world. But in the short term, and in the deepest reptilian folds of their brains, the Shiites are maneuvering amid the sectarian bloodbath all around.

This is not a function of the character of Maliki or this or that official. It’s a function of the core dynamic now afflicting Iraqi society.

The enemy in Iraq is not some discrete group of killers. It’s the maelstrom of violence and hatred that infects every institution, including the government and the military. Instead of facing up to this core reality, the Bush administration has papered it over with salesmanship and spin."

1/11/2007 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

In the most recent edition of Foreign Affairs, Lee Kwan Yew says that mistakes were made in Viet Nam but where the US is today amounts to a victory. He doesn't see the Iraq situation as lost either. I tend to agree and I have some good hope to see how we proceed for the next few years.
I always liked that guy. He also serves as a very astute weathervane.

1/11/2007 06:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for
Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi
Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States need to understand that an
American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and
a strategic threat to their survival.

I found this quote from Bush's speech rather telling: Bush might unintentionally be encoding the message to the Arab nations that Persian/Shiite/Sunni extremists are equally bad (notice he didn't specify exactly that it was aQ he was talking about, and this para came after his comments on Iran and Syria), thereby tacitly showing his support for the Arab nations who have been trumpeting the "Shia hegemon" threat.

"We will expand intelligence sharing, and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region."

(h/t to brian ulrich) Why would Iran's neighbours come under any Qassam/Katyusha attacks? Only if it suggests the plausibility that airstrikes at Iranian targets might instigate Iran to strike out at its Arab neighbours, or somehow Bush manages to convince Turkey to allow the US to use its airfields (though that seems highly unlikely) - thereby vindicating Bush's "promise" to the Arab nations of defending them from any Iranian efforts to further destabilise the region to their detriment.

1/11/2007 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Wu Wei said...
the #1 priority, defending the population

Oh the love. I wish I could rise to it. I wish I could inspire a USMC footslogger to feel the love, as he walks into a booby trapped mosk, but why waste time. He already knows I'm a wanker.

"the population". If I could paraphrase the drop dead gorgeous Maggie Tatcher - "there is no population, there's just you and me".

Just think this - if the Bagdhad culture does not change, in 100 years from now Sunnis will be nuking Shiites (and vice versa).

If you want to stop this, you have to change the culture.

All my experience tells me that you have to rip it apart, produce abject wrecks, and then rebuild.

It's horrible; old men drift into senility too early, middle aged men commit suicide, young men turn to drugs, and then arises the reformation, and it's never as good as you hoped.

With 20,000 troops? No.

Surge me arse. Welcome to the long war.


1/11/2007 07:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dla said, "I am so thankful that GWB is president. I shudder to think what would happen if any of the Democrats of the last 20 years were in the Oval office."

Yeah, imagine if al-Gore or John Kerry were in their right now. They'd be spending taxpayer's money like drunk sailors on bridges to nowhere and Medicare prescription drug entitlements. They'd grant blanket amnesty to illegals. They'd even get us stuck in costly wars overseas that kill twenty or thirty soldiers a week but do nothing to make America safer.

1/11/2007 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> he walks into a booby trapped mosk

If the environment is hostile, I don't think regular troops should be there unless there is a specific enemy (al-Sadr) who they are authorized to kill.

President Bush is the one who selected counterinsurgency for Baghdad, at least he put it in the slides for the new plan.

1/11/2007 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger cjr said...

Concering poll results:

Could you ever imagine Gallup doing a poll May 1944:

“Which do you favor:
Invasion of Normandy with 5 division
Invasion of Cas de Calas with 8 division
No invasion of Northern France. Continue Italian campaign
No invasion of France. Since we haven’t won in >2.5 years, WWII is a lost cause. We should pull out now.
We should give it another 12 months then pull out.
… etc
… etc

Even better, could you ever imagine Roosevelt or Marshall or Eisenhower actually deciding on a strategy based on the poll results??

Have we all gone insane?

1/11/2007 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> Could you ever imagine Gallup doing a poll May 1944:

First of all, if public support had fallen enough in world war II (which it didn't even though there were complainers), then we would have gone through the same steps.

That is one reason World War II leaders like Winston Churchill spent large amounts of time rallying the people behind the war, something George Bush doesn't bother with because apparently he thinks it is a waste of time.

And World War II was a different war, a conventional war. Japan attacked us, and fought a full scale war. The war did not end until their government surrendered, and once it did surrender the Japanese government (the emperor) help stabilize the country for occupations. Near the end of the war, Japan didn't have any enemies remaining which we needed to worry about.

Iraq didn't invade us. Its government melted away, switching to guerrilla war, fighting us instead of helping with the occupation. Iraq has heavy involvement with other countries, including tension along religious lines (Sunni / Shiite).

1/11/2007 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Originally President Bush had a 40 minute speech scheduled, but at the last minute he cut it back to 20 minutes. Someone from the White House later said they didn't think the speech mattered, only the battle did. This is a nightmare.

1/11/2007 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger cjr said...

Wu Wei:
First of all, if public support had fallen enough in world war II (which it didn't even though there were complainers), then we would have gone through the same steps.

Yes, you are right, we would have had a discussion on the grand strategy level: "should we continiue the war or not" But there is no way we would have interfered with a tactical/operational commander on tactical/operational issues.

When you go to a surgeon, you can and should debate with him if you should have the surgery. But once the operatation starts, is it wise for the surgeon to take your advice on the length of the incision or what instrument to use to tie off a blood vessel?

1/11/2007 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> But once the operatation starts, is it wise for the surgeon to take your advice

First, if we are talking about freezing the number of troops, not doing the surge, as the Democrats are talking about, that would be a disaster. It would kill thousands of troops because they couldn't get reinforcements, clear Baghdad of terrorists, etc.

But that is the whole point. Why didn't the President say that? He could have said that if Congress stops the surge, then our troops won't have reinforcements so they could be killed, and Al Qaeda may be able to launch attacks on the US, which would be the fault of Congress. Congress would have been scared to death. But instead Bush said nothing, and now 70% of the people are opposed to having more troops. All he or his administration would need to do is fight instead of just sitting there in a rope-a-dope.

Aa for the war overall, some people are arguing that the operation is over. They say that we accomplished what we set out to, killing Saddam and eliminating the possibility of weapons of mass destruction, so now there is no need to fight. They say it is an Iraqi civil war which has nothing to do with the US.

People have these legitimate concerns, so it is not as simple as saying that the war was started and must go on. Bush has for over two years just allowed his opponents to make charge after charge without Bush answering them. He repeats his 9/11 speech or just say that we must win. And he never, never attacks Democrats on the war. It is totally a defensive public relations war. Bush just silently absorbs one Democratic punch / lie after another, never raising a glove to defend himself or defend the war.

It's almost too late. It may be too late. The Republican leader in the Senate said if you try anything I'll filibuster, and the Democratic leader said ha, ha go ahead because I've got the votes. So far one-quarter of the Republican Senators in one way or another have said they are against the surge. They also know that the Democrats will be beating on the President's aides in hearings day after day after day. Even John McCain sounded like he knew the end is in sight, saying that it would be constitutional for the Congress to stop the war.

Really that is where they are moving. The Congress is starting to realize that freezing the troop levels would be too dangerous, so the first real vote they take will be to set a withdrawal schedule for the war.

What if President Bush feels that he needs to invade Syria or Iran now? Would Congress impeach him? How fast would they slap restrictions on spending so he can't attack those countries?

1/11/2007 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

Teresita said... Something totally irrelevant.

I don't following your thinking - what did anything you mentioned have to do with how GWB is leading this country in the Iraq effort?

1/11/2007 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dla, if you can't see a disaster when it's happening under the Pubs, how can you shudder at the disaster that would have happened under the Donks?

1/11/2007 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Is this thread over?I want to vent anyways.Bush may have been Don Quixote tilting at windmills way back in 2003,but that was then ,this is now.
He spoke glaring truth last night to a fat stupid populace hooked on entertainment.Today he runs a gauntlet of media hyenas,treasonous liberals and deballed Republicans.Chuck Hegal said "this is the worst American foreign policy disaster ever"Yeah, and you're a stupid jackass who ought to be back plowing in Nebraska.Oh but Hegal was in Viet Nam.He's still a weasel who is bent over a barrel for every media skunk in DC.Screw him and all the rest of the GOP Quislings.
If we lose this war,it will be a profound,life changing disaster for everyone in America and what remains of the free world.Bank on it.
Incidentally,Teresita ,your post wasn't irrelevant.It was a useless cynical dose of stupidity .

1/11/2007 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

GOP Senators vs. Bush Plan

Republican leaders on Capitol Hill staunchly back President Bush's proposal to boost troop levels in Iraq but support among the party's rank and file may be crumbling...

An informal survey by The Washington Times yesterday, for instance, found nine Senate Republicans who have "doubts" about Mr. Bush's proposal, and seven who reject it. Eleven other senators expressed conditional support.
Twenty-one Republican senators offered unqualified support. Only Sen. Wayne Allard, Colorado Republican, did not respond to requests for comment...

The seven Republican senators who are openly opposed to sending more troops are Mr. Hagel, Mr. Smith, Mr. Coleman, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
The nine Republican senators who appear to be undecided, if not opposed, are Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, Sen. Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Sen. John E. Sununu of New Hampshire, Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia and Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana.

1/12/2007 02:06:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Siberry said...

From experience (over here in england) a speech is only a speech. Most leaders get the nation excited with their policies and barely ever go through with them.

So the speech itself looks great but will he follow through with the all of the points made, doubtfully. He will say i will do this when i get re elected or due to circumstances this issue has been put on hold etc.

In the end the government does what it likes and puts on a show, weather it be on the safety of cars using old car parts or invading iraque (possibly for the oil, possibly not)

I run a small business for car parts and vehicle salvage and a slong as I can make a honest living politics never bothered me because they all do what they want anyway and most never keep their promises.

1/17/2007 03:52:00 AM  

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