Friday, July 13, 2007

Michael Yon on Hugh Hewitt

Michael Yon is interviewed by Hugh Hewitt:

HH: Now Michael Yon, a lot of people don’t know the significance of Baquba. And so can you explain what peace in Baquba means for the larger war effort?

MY: Well, it’s huge, because al Qaeda had claimed Baquba as their capitol, their worldwide capitol. And you might recall one of the things that kind of upsets people about my reporting is I said Iraq was in a civil war, and I said that way back in February of 2005, and I continue to do so. But when I first wrote that, I was in Baquba, in 2005, and I spent two or three months here. And it was just total…you could see it, and you could see al Qaeda was trying to foment that civil war, because that’s their underlying strategy, is to do that. And so getting, fracturing al Qaeda here, and al Qaeda alienating so many Iraqis, it’s helping us to put a damper on the civil war.

HH: Now yesterday, Harry Reid said on the floor of the Senate that the surge has failed. Do you think there’s any factual basis for making that assertion, Michael Yon, from what you’ve seen in Iraq over the last many months?

MY: He’s wrong, he’s wrong. It has absolutely not failed, and in fact, I’m finally willing to say it in public. I feel like it’s starting to succeed. And you know, I’m kind of stretching a little bit, because we haven’t gone too far into it, but I can see it from my travels around, for instance, in Anbar and out here in Diyala Province as well. Baghdad’s still very problematic. But there’s other areas where you can clearly see that there is a positive effect. And the first and foremost thing we have to do is knock down al Qaeda. And with them alienating so many Iraqis, I mean, they’re almost doing it for us. I mean, yeah, it takes military might to finally like wipe them out of Baquba, but it’s working. I mean, I sense that the surge is working. Reid is just wrong.

There will be two types of answers to Michael Yon's assertion by critics of the war. The first will be that he is wrong in his assessment. But the more common answer, at least in private will probably be, "it doesn't matter. Political support for the war has evaporated. The project is broken. It might have been possible to win it once, but not now. Even if the Surge is working."

To some extent the breakage is due to the mistakes of GWB and the Pentagon. But to a certain degree -- and we can argue by how much -- the breakage is desired outcome of those who politically opposed the war and now feel that their goals are within reach. It will be argued by some opponents of the war that they merely pointed out the failings of its conduct. But some of the more forthright will proudly say "we made the war fail". We stopped US Imperialist aggression.

But the real problem is whether either answer will satisfy the questions of history. Because History will flow on from whichever reply the US political system gives to the Iraq problem into the chosen branch. And whatever lies beyond.


Blogger lgude said...

And the timing of the current progress is all wrong for the critics because they need it to fail in such a way that they can blame Bush. The critics, especially the Democrats, have to avoid being tagged with the failure. If Bush hands a new president of either party a reasonably stable Iraq in Jan 2009 then history's needs will be met. It seems me that that the recent military progress is moving the locus of control away from Washington and toward Baghdad. If the Iraqi government gets control of its own destiny then they become the winners - and, as we say in Australia, the losers can please themselves.

7/13/2007 04:37:00 AM  
Blogger R said...

So, the bear tries to get the honey, the bees swarm the bear...and he decides to walk away without all the honey. If we're the bear, and we're hungry, then I guess we are angry at not getting the amount of food we desired. Kinda like wondering where is the Iraqi oil that we think should be flowing out from my local gas station's hoses? After all, it has been more than four years, and I do remember all those fellow Americans who "knew" this was all about the oil.

However, if I drop back, away from Iraq, I've got a few questions to ask: 1) Is Osama really alive, still? 2) Is it just me, or are all these poor people, with their super smart intellectual leaders, dressed as "spiritual" fighters, coming at us within a "Muslim" world view? 3) Will we unlease those wonderful multi million dollar--or are they now billion dollar weapon systems for real destruction (not this pinpoint, I don't want to hurt you that badly; can't be too politically correct these days..PETA might be picketing on behalf of those dead pets from our bombing; sooner, rather than later you know!) on these enemies which we will once and for all really identify? 4) Is there such a thing as critical mass in this terrorist mess, and if so, then what will we do if such occurs?

And finally, 5) If one looks at this game of hatred, wouldn't a bio-chem attack really do some serious harm to our psyche and be easier than trying to explode a nuke weapon on US soil? There's something about a $165 million dollar aircraft flying over an enemy who is planting, with three of his friends, an EID costing about 200 bucks that just doesn't make economic sense to me: cost benefit ratio thinking I suppose.

Bleed us to death...with those dollars which we seem to worship?

Perhaps we should require all lawyers within the United States to sign up for military service...on the front lines! No weapons, just lawsuits for anyone who looks disrespectful toward our truth and justice for all "heroes" who've come to save the day and tell us how right they are!

Harry Reid, et al. are in fact great leaders...just ask them.

Bush...he wants to find his cross, and if he keeps behaving as he has, I am sure there will be plenty who will help him get on it!

Meanwhile, we defer to a record economic index, while those pesky bees seem to be swarming all about us!

Maybe we could just rename these terrorists to "disgruntled, next door neighbors" or something like that? Sure would make us "feel" better, and that is just what the Clintons are best at doing, right?

I'm building a bio-chem-nuke shelter with every last dime I've got, what with these idiots we seemed to have elected still running the show!

Must remember to put those Bonanza tapes away in storage! Ah...the good old days, when we knew who the bad guys really were!

7/13/2007 05:07:00 AM  
Blogger chippewa said...

Each of us has heard the voice of Harry Reid all our lives. It's the one that said, "You can't do it. You're not capable. Stop before your ruin things. Just come over to our clique and we can be friends."

If we listen to his BS we will be just another loser Harry Reid.

But if we ignore him & his minions, and we persist in our task, we can defeat (eventually) our enemies there and our demons here.

7/13/2007 05:28:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Possible translations of the wimp from the Senate:

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." or

"Don't confuse me with the facts."

7/13/2007 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Wretchard said - “But some of the more forthright will proudly say "we made the war fail". We stopped US Imperialist aggression.”

Has anyone, even some obscure civil rights college professor, ever admitted that about any war?

Congress can try to control the war, but anything beyond de-funding it will likely provoke a drawn out constitutional crisis. The surge is funded through September with another report due then measuring more than just Iraqi political accomplishments.

If Congress cuts off funding, the president likely has the authority to shift funds around to support current operations. If Congress tries to prohibit that in the next general budget, he can veto it.

This so called political pressure cuts both ways, and standing up to it potentially strengthens the administration and demands that his opposition radicalize to promote de-funding bills that would be so specific and draconian that they would alienate the public and wavering Republicans. For this reason, the President has a strong position.

7/13/2007 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

So by arming the enemies of the Iraqi Government, enemies of the Federal Republic now enveloping the local police and security forces in Anbar, as completely as the Mahdi Army has corrupted the local police of Baghdad.

That is touted as progress?
More like grasping at straws.

US Policy was to disempower the Tribes, not reinforce their position as the premier social arbitrators in Iraq.
The tactical success in Anbar is a rout of US Policy. Plain as day.

"Bottom up" reconciliation, another phrase for arming the enemies of the governments in the Iraqi Civil War.

As CIA Director General Hadley put it:
"We and the Iraqi government do not agree on who the enemy is,"

Hayden said, according to the written record. "For all the senior leaders of the Iraqi government, Baathists are the source of evil. There is a Baathist behind every bush."
"It's a legitimate question whether strengthening the Iraqi security forces helps or hurts when they are viewed as a predatory element," he said. "Strengthening Iraqi security forces is not unalloyed good. Without qualification, this judgment applies to the police."

That is true whether the "Police" are Shia or Sunni, in Sadr City or Anbar. We are prepping Iraq for a Civil War, arming both sides.

Or perhaps de facto partition will be the "new" way forward.

7/13/2007 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Remember, amigos, it was the arrest of another Iraqi police Lt that led to the IED attack on the Brits in Basra, that secured and successful Iraqi city, that killed the female medical officer, the friend of the wannbe Warrior Prince.

BAGHDAD (Associated Press) -- U.S. forces battled Iraqi police and gunmen Friday, killing six policemen, after an American raid to capture an Iraqi police lieutenant accused of leading a cell of Shiite militiamen, the military said. Seven gunmen also died in the fight.

The U.S. troops captured the lieutenant in a pre-dawn raid in Baghdad, but the soldiers came under "heavy and accurate fire" from a nearby Iraqi police checkpoint, as well as intense firing from rooftops and a church, the military said in a statement.

During the battle, U.S. warplanes struck in front of the police position, without hitting it directly, "to prevent further escalation" of the battle, it said. There were no casualties among the U.S. troops, but seven gunmen and six of the policemen firing on the Americans were killed, the statement said.

The captured lieutenant was a "high-ranking" leader of a cell suspected of helping coordinate Iranian support for Shiite extremists in Iraq as well as carrying out roadside bombings against mortar attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces, the military said. The lieutenant is believed to be linked to the Quds Force, a branch of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, it said.

It's alright, though, we may have had the bio-metric info data-based on those police shooters, we'll be able to identify those in death that we armed in life.

7/13/2007 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Desert Rat said "US Policy was to disempower the Tribes"

Nonsense. That was never an objective. Our post war objective was to enable an Iraqi constitutional democracy, and having to overlay it along tribal lines is hardly a defeat.

7/13/2007 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...



"Despite the Bush junta's attempts to keep it buried, a recently obtained classified report confirms that Al Qaeda's strength has returned to pre-9/11 levels. Osama Bin Laden is on the loose, the Taliban has retaken control of Afghanistan, and terrorists are poised to strike the West.

In other words, things are pretty much the way Bill Clinton left them."

/This would be funny if it wasn't so fsckn sad..

7/13/2007 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Just recently the Nay Times published this
Engaging with the Sunni tribes was not always a cornerstone of U.S. policy in Iraq. In the early days of the occupation, when Paul Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Authority held sway, the emphasis was more on standing up Western-style democratic institutions.

We can look to contemporaneous reports
Published on Saturday, June 28, 2003 by the Washington Post
Occupation Forces Halt Elections Throughout Iraq
by William Booth and Rajiv Chandrasekaran
SAMARRA, Iraq -- U.S. military commanders have ordered a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq, choosing instead to install their own handpicked mayors and administrators, many of whom are former Iraqi military leaders.

The decision to deny Iraqis a direct role in selecting municipal governments is creating anger and resentment among aspiring leaders and ordinary citizens, who say the U.S.-led occupation forces are not making good on their promise to bring greater freedom and democracy to a country dominated for three decades by Saddam Hussein.

Why was "bottom up" inacceptable in 2003?
The answer is clear, the US could not control the outcome of the election, fearing Baathists in Anbar, like the 1920 Brigades, and al-Sadrists in Baghdad would win.

The Baathists in Anbar and the tribes, one and the same after Saddam. Or they'd not have had the local power they did.

Now what is the 1920 Brigade, but another militia, just another Mahdi Army, but Sunni Baathists instead of Shia Nationalists.

We can look to the State Department archive for what Mr Bremmer did say, speaking on 1 Sept 2003:
Bremer: We believe that there is not a role in the new Iraq for organized militias. We do not believe organized militias are consistent with an independent, unified Iraq. However, we have encouraged members of militia, including the Badr Corps, to play a role in security. There are members of militia already; indeed, there are members of the Badr Corps who have already enlisted, for example, in one of the battalions of the Civil Defense Corps that I mentioned. So, it's not as if they don't have a way to play a role; they do have a way to play a role.

We do not believe that militia, whether it's the Badr Corps or other militias, themselves should go around as armed units acting in a security function. We think in the long run, that is not consistent with a unified country with its own police force and its own army. And so, over the period ahead, we will, hopefully, see these militia play a lesser role, though the individuals who are in the militia are welcome to, and have, indeed, already joined both the police force and the new Iraqi army and the civil defense corps.

Now, truth be told, Mr Bremmer describes arming the Mahdi Army, when he says:
The second question had to do with the Iraqi police and their arms and equipment. The coalition has recently taken delivery of tens of thousands of weapons intended for the Iraqi police. They're in the process of being distributed to the Iraqi police now. That is to say, AK-47s, and we will soon have pistols for all of the Iraqi police, as well, in the next couple of weeks. We have also ordered uniforms -- all of the equipment they need, which means vests, which they've never had before -- bulletproof vests.

Same Iraqi Police militiamen that US troops engaged in a fire fight, yesterday

7/13/2007 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Bill - Desert Rat said "US Policy was to disempower the Tribes"

Nonsense. That was never an objective. Our post war objective was to enable an Iraqi constitutional democracy, and having to overlay it along tribal lines is hardly a defeat.

Desert Rat is correct.

We lost nearly 1,200 men in Al Anbar Province trying to break the power of the tribes, end their insurgency, and get them to obey the "Noble Shiites in charge" of the Federalist system.

All while the Idiot, Rummy, the Neocons, and his clueless Viceroy armed the "noble freedom-loving Shiite militias" then posing as "police" and "New Iraq Interior Ministry people" to the teeth...

After that 2 1/2 year long fiasco in strategic misdirection and wasted blood and treasure - we concluded that the tribes were potential allies if we stopped trying to take away their sovereign rights...

Now we have the problem of the Turks prepping up to suppress the Kurds from claiming independence and strongly signalling to the Kurdish terror groups that they may poach on Sunni Arab lands but to leave the Turkomen minority alone and do not meddle with Turkey's Kurd minority...

By nearly every measure, the "noble purple fingered secular construct" of a Federal government with a hybrid USA-Shiite Religious Constitution we tried imposing has failed to meet any mark we set for it.

Democracy and Muslims are like Democracy and black Africans. A nice hypothetical. The reality is different. They aren't ready. A US-style western democracy that lasts cannot be imposed on them any more than on Haiti, Afghanistan, or Zimbabwe..

IT's taken us 800 billion (that if invested in America could have achieved the synfuel plants and conservation to cut our foreign oil bills in half) to realize the end state is likely to be 3 ruthless military factions at war headed by the likes of Saddam (each faction now hopes for someone as good as Saddam was to "his type of people").

Stand by for huge new oil price increases with looming sectarian civil war and big bucks profits for oil exporting states like Russia, Iran, KSA, Chavez's and for Bush's pals in the oil business.

7/13/2007 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

03 June, 2003


U.S. plans to appoint a political council of Iraqi leaders, rather than have it selected by a national conference as previously expected, also fueled anger among some Iraqis.

Bremer unveiled the plan Sunday to leaders of seven major Iraqi political groups, many of which opposed Saddam from exile during his rule. The groups met Monday to discuss the U.S.- British ideas and are due to see Bremer Friday.

Hamid al-Bayati of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq said the seven groups still wanted a national conference to pick the council.

"A national conference should decide the mechanism for choosing this council," he told Reuters. "The country is without government and we realize the urgency. We propose that Iraqis should choose it and the Americans approve it."

As part of the effort to win over skeptical Iraqis, the U.S.-led administration arranged a meeting with leaders of the country's disparate tribes Monday. Tempers soon frayed.

The tribal chieftains, members of a council of clans they say represents 80 percent of Iraq's 26 million people, criticized the United States for failing to restore law and order and essential services to Iraqis after the war.

Leaders of the heavily armed clans also disagreed with a recent U.S. decision to strip Iraqis of heavy weapons.

"We thank the coalition for liberating Iraq...but are we occupied or liberated? I swear to God, if this is occupation, all our children, women and men, young and old, will die rather than accept occupation," Sheikh Fsal al-Kaoud told Horan.

Horan provoked angry outbursts by acknowledging that the U.S. and British forces were occupying Iraq.

"Occupation is not a nice word, but yes, what we have now is occupation," Horan told the tribesmen in perfect Arabic.

"But the objective of this occupation by the coalition is the establishment of a new, free Iraq."

We can go further, to a MSM reporter, Joe Klien who directly quotes Mr Bremmer, a quote that Mr Bremer never dispputed, but the report was published in May of '07.

As I reported in September 2005, there is also the scandalous reality that an alliance with the tribes was proposed by U.S. Army intelligence officers as early as October 2003 and rejected by L. Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority on the grounds that "tribes are part of the past. They have no place in the new democratic Iraq."

The quote Mr Klien says he used in '05 and now again, never disputed, that I can find.

7/13/2007 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

So what's the future?

The Turks are massing an army of 140,000 troops on the border with Iraqi Kurdistan. The Turks, in their Eastern Provinces, together with their PKK agents, destroyed 30,000 Kurdish villages, displacing millions of Kurds. And now, the Turks, again using their old PKK agents, threaten to destroy the only part of Iraq that's functional, Iraqi Kurdistan.

7/13/2007 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"They aren't ready."


Why are we trying to force people into these old contrived imperial boundaries?

Democratic Checkoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, did not hold and broke apart. So what?

Why are we trying to pin the success of the democracy in the ME on the premise of the Federal Union of Iraq? What's wrong with a democratic Kurdistan? What's wrong with having the Shiia and the arab Sunni go their own democratic way?

7/13/2007 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Excellent discussion as usual. However, the thread seems to be unraveling a bit. The pertinent point here is the surge is indeed making progress. Will we capitalize on the successes or be too preoccupied with the specter of failure? Does anyone remember the admission from the North Vietnamese that they were just about to collapse when the US inexplicably threw in the towel? Is history about to repeat? Why isn't the "sleeping giant" awake at this point? Where are my countrymen? Where are their gonads?

This kind of behavior is why we in the military bear so much contempt for those who will not stand by us (not "I support the troops! Yeah for me!"). We were not losing in Vietnam and we are not losing in Iraq. Only the politicians can lose this war.

And just for those who might mistake me for a NEOCON, why isn't the president appearing on television weekly giving us progress reports and making sure the people know exactly what is at stake? We could use a little Sir Winston in our spinal columns. This one we cannot afford to walk away from half-done. C'mon America. The first step is admitting there is a problem. It is spelled J-I-H-A-D. Let's not bring a knife to a gun fight.

7/13/2007 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger j willie said...


The thread always unravels when Desert Rat starts posting, because it takes him about 5 or 6 contrived setup posts after which he will then "declare victory" by saying that he told you last week (or month, year, decade, whichever is most convenient for his current argument) that we couldn't win.

7/13/2007 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Thank you for your service, Christopher. You too, Desert Rat.

Unfortunately, President Bush is inarticulate in leading the country, but that's not to say he's not trying. His speech yesterday was excellent.

Press Conference by the President – July 12, 2007

In my address to the nation in January, I put it this way: If we increase our support at this crucial moment we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home. The real debate over Iraq is between those who think the fight is lost or not worth the cost, and those that believe the fight can be won and that, as difficult as the fight is, the cost of defeat would be far higher.

I believe we can succeed in Iraq, and I know we must. So we're working to defeat al Qaeda and other extremists, and aid the rise of an Iraqi government that can protect its people, deliver basic services, and be an ally in the war against these extremists and radicals. By doing this, we'll create the conditions that would allow our troops to begin coming home, while securing our long-term national interest in Iraq and in the region.

While we were at war constantly throughout the 90's, and not just in Iraq, there was no "anti-war movement" in the media, among Democrats, or anywhere else. Once Hillary becomes President, the anti-war movement will be disregarded by the MSM and shrivel down to its actual size in the popular consciousness.

To address one of DR's points, here's something I found on an obscure web site:

Iraq Fact Check: Responding to Key Myths

7. MYTH: U.S. troops are “arming” Sunni insurgents in Iraq.

* FACT: Commanders are taking advantage of an important opportunity to reach out to locals who want to fight against al Qaeda and are recruiting them into the government of Iraq. Some tribal elements are being recruited as police support units with the blessing of the Maliki government. US forces are not arming Sunni insurgents and have only provided non-lethal assistance with the agreement of the government of Iraq.
* FACT: As we come to agreement with these individuals who are fed up with al Qaeda terrorists and willing to fight against them and/or show U.S. forces where they hide, we gather biometric data on them, identify and vet them, have them pledge allegiance to the government of Iraq and go through a training program, and then quickly bring them along as part of the Iraqi military or Interior police forces.
* FACT: This is in no way about working with al Qaeda members or foreign fighters. It is about taking advantage of an opportunity to join with Iraqis against irreconcilable enemies.

To quote an old adage, "You're with us or agin us" and it looks like the Sunnis in Anbar and Baqubah decided it's better to be with us.

7/13/2007 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Yo Mat, does this guy Larry write for the NYT times? What's this?
"In other words, things are pretty much the way Bill Clinton left them."

Hmmm, let's think way, way back to December, 2000, what was going on in Afghanistan that led the UN Security Council to issue

UN Security Council 1333 — Sanctions Against Taliban - United Nations Security Council - December 19, 2000

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

1. Demands that the Taliban comply with resolution 1267 (1999) and, in particular, cease the provision of sanctuary and training for international terrorists and their organizations, take appropriate effective measures to ensure that the territory under its control is not used for terrorist installations and camps, or for the preparation or organization of terrorist acts against other States or their citizens, and cooperate with international efforts to bring indicted terrorists to justice;

2. Demands also that the Taliban comply without further delay with the demand of the Security Council in paragraph 2 of resolution 1267 (1999) that requires the Taliban to turn over Usama bin Laden to appropriate authorities in a country where he has been indicted, or to appropriate authorities in a country where he will be returned to such a country, or to appropriate authorities in a country where he will be arrested and effectively brought to justice;

3. Demands further that the Taliban should act swiftly to close all camps where terrorists are trained within the territory under its control, and calls for the confirmation of such closures by the United Nations, inter alia, through information made available to the United Nations by Member States in accordance with paragraph 19 below and through such other means as are necessary to assure compliance with this resolution;....

What do you think was better - a toothless American government depending on toothless Security Council resolutions - or NATO's largest military op in history?

7/13/2007 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

The New York Times?!

Sorry, Tony, but Larry (and I) only read the pages of Pravda!

7/13/2007 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger R said...

Hey, I think most of you are commenting with ideas that have merit, yet when I think of what went wrong I go to Machiavelli for answers. It doesn't take many pages to discover where we went wrong. I also read that just over a week ago Colin Powell gave an interview overseas where it is alleged he said that he had spent over 2 1/2 hours trying to talk President Bush out of invading Iraq.

We can argue all day, but when I read Machiavelli and wonder what was said to Bush...well, what else is there? The plan after the toppling of Saddam is what was wrong. Why? Who created this plan? What other plan (like the thoughts ole Nicolo expressed) was presented and by who?

Bush is toast, as far as I am concerned. Until a cogent policy is presented to the American people, we want out! Screw these politicians, I don't want more Americans dead, nor do I want more dollars wasted on a bunch of people who haven't gotten their s**t wired!

Let's go into Pakistan and wipe out the leadership of AQ! I'll bet Americans would be cheering that act with parades, etc.!

Then, we support Israel. with our carriers.

Then we get gas for our cars paying over $5.00 per gallon!

Here it comes, ready or not!

7/13/2007 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Is there any truth to the allegation that "desert rat" is really Harry Reid's nom de plume? How do these things get started?

7/13/2007 03:21:00 PM  
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7/13/2007 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

As per your norm, j willie, you complain of my style, but can never adequately dispute the content.

Content is king, amigo

7/13/2007 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Desert Rat said

“As I reported in September 2005, there is also the scandalous reality that an alliance with the tribes was proposed by U.S. Army intelligence officers as early as October 2003 and rejected by L. Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority on the grounds that "tribes are part of the past. They have no place in the new democratic Iraq."”

Fair enough. At the least, dismissing tribal hierarchies was a method to our objective of Sunni compliance with the Shia dominated federalist government. Good find Desert Rat.

7/13/2007 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Thanks for demonstrating the difference between name-calling and addressing the facts, Bill.
Hard not to feel that killing Al-Queda Murdering Fascists is not a good thing, but as 'Rat points out, this is not a road to reconciliation.

It could lead to a better road, (better than Civil War) which would be to let Anbar be Sunni, and Basra be Shia, something that seemed more achievable to me all along.

GWB wants reconciliation:
The Iraqi government does not, and one can understand why the Sunnis would not, given that Shia Death Squads are part of the "Civil Order."

7/13/2007 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger j willie said...


Content is king? With respect to your "style", the medium is the message, and yours is a lie in all respects.

7/13/2007 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger j willie said...

Hey DR, how many profile views are you up to now? I know you have it on the tip of your tongue, just waiting for someone to ask.

7/13/2007 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard --

While Michael Yon and others on the ground like Petraeus might feel progress is being made, to the point where we are not losing and perhaps even winning, that is totally irrelevant for now.

The media decided long ago that both Iran and Afghanistan were disasters and would end in withdrawal. So too Democrats.

Harry Reid may be wrong but he has all the power. The President may veto, but it will be overridden. How can it not be? What political strength does Bush have?

So it's a done deal. All decided in Nov 2006. We will withdraw, and likely very soon. From both Iraq and Afghanistan.

What happens in Iraq is totally irrelevant. Only when our current elites are tossed out will we begin to address fighting back against a ruthless and determined enemy.

Already Peace Activists want to "negotiate and recognize" bin Laden. They think that it will "restore peace." Or more likely preserve them from being forced to share power.

7/13/2007 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

For now, there are too many Democrats up for election that don't want to be washed up in a second McGovern Wave to over-ride a veto.
So for now it is Pelosi and Boxer performing for their base, and little man Reid doing what corrupt little men like him do.
And, of course, the obligatory moderate pubs.

7/13/2007 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

What everyone seems to overlook is that most of our mistakes in Iraq -rightly credited to Paul Bremmer - overlook something. His boss was the State Department, then run by Colin Powell.

At first, the State Department was to run 'civil affairs,' remember? It was Colin Powell's doctrine that ruled civil affairs in Iraq from 2003 until 2005 when Powell resigned.

But Colin Powell is such an "untouchable" that no one wants to credit him for such a big failure.

7/13/2007 10:54:00 PM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

re: override a veto.

They will never do it. That makes them responsible for the outcome, whatever happens. It's too easy to let the executive (continue to) carry this burden, and too many risks to remove it from the president's shoulders.

Never once did Mr. Clinton call the DoD or Intel committee chairs in the 90s and say "that's my budget, leave it alone." Had he, Congress never would have cut the defensive posture of the country as deeply as it did. It was only his acquiescence that allowed them to cash the peace-dividend check (that effectively halved the number of trigger-pullers in the services).

Congress won't be held responsible. They won't override a veto of a defense-related bill, even if they pass a bill by a "veto proof" majority.

This is likely why Mr. Bush is in a good mood. He knows all they will do is posture and he needn't compromise on what he believes is necessary for the nation's security. He knows he will be able to leave office with the issue squarely defined as either in-hand by then, or still fully-formed (unconstrained by congress) giving the next executive (of either party) the maximum freedom of action. He probably reads this as his highest duty as defined by the Constitution. Which he repeatedly reminds us ranks higher than popular opinion in his speeches.

7/13/2007 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Seems to me someone needs to bone up on the Constitution. In order to override a Presidential veto the Democrats need 290 votes (they have 233) in the House AND 67 votes in Senate (they have 50 as Libermann will vote with the President). There is no chance of them getting enough votes overriding the veto in one of the houses, let alone both houses unless the Republicans desert the President. So far six Republican Senators have made noises about a new direction in Iraq, but when push comes to shove? So at best Harry Reid has 56 votes. He needs 60 to move any "war" legislation forward. The cloture rule in the Senate means so long as 40 Republicans (Libermann will side with the President on the war) stick with Bush nothing is going to the President's desk.

In this showdown Bush holds all the Constitutional cards as long the Republicans in Congress stick with him. He could veto all the spending bills of Congress (and anything else they send his way) and use his authority over the Treasury to make sure the essentials of government, and the war, are taken care. He could use recess appointments to fill any and all vacancies in the Administration and Judicary, and there is absolutely not a damn thing Congress could do about it. Granted, the appointees' terms would only be until Jan '09, but plenty of time for conservative Judges to make lots of rulings. Bush could use his power to issue a myriad of executive orders while vetoing all Congressional legislation. All this, of course, would precipitate a Constitutional showdown and it would come down to the Supremes. I say Bush would win there too, 5-4. The Dems could try the Impeechment route, but again they need 67 votes in the Senate and I don't see a way that they even get close to that number. They might not even get 50 votes. Baring an unforseen disaster in Iraq, the President is in the catbird seat. And if he stuck it to Harry Reid and the Nancy boys in the House I think his approval numbers would go up.

7/13/2007 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Doug said:

“GWB wants reconciliation:
The Iraqi government does not, and one can understand why the Sunnis would not, given that Shia Death Squads are part of the "Civil Order.”

The Fourth Rail documents by unit the integration, training and death squad purges in Iraqi forces. It doesn’t look like lack of reconciliation is from a lack of will from the Iraqi government.

7/14/2007 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Doug, Cedarford and Desert Rat…

I understand the reason aligning with Shunni tribes is dangerous: Baathist dominated, cementing confrontation into the political hierarchy, anti-coalition last year, allies this, who knows what’s next year, etc…

And I understand why we’d dismiss them in the political hierarchy: Baathification, minimize nepotism, create new loyalties, etc…

So I understand why this is a step backward in our ambitions, but I don’t understand why this is not at least a step toward reconciliation. Just ending al Qaeda and the insurgency in Ahnbar and is a huge step toward reconciliation.

Iraq’s constitution could hold a single nation together or split into three with voting districts mirroring tribal hierarchies rather than split across, enabling tribal leaders to be elected with rollups to provincial and national levels. How is that a setback for democracy or reconciliation?

7/14/2007 06:05:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It could be a "way forward", bill.
It may be a step towards local democracy, though leading to Iraqi reconciliation, doubrful, if one reads Mr Yon's account of the 1920 operative's statements. Or the Iraqi Governments' position on US arming yesterdays Insurgents.

It will lead to a Civil War, when the US presence lessens, which it will by May of '09.

Lies, J Willie?
Bring 'em on.
Show 'em to US, just don't rattle on with accusations that are unsubstantiated and unfounded.

If you are concerned with my popularity or to the curiosity factor readers find in the positions I present, ah well... it keeps you engaged.

7/14/2007 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Hey, since when did Belmont Club become a bicker blog? I guess I've been neglecting my job as bouncer.

Since someone mentioned that backstabbing, self-described Affirmative Action success story Colin Powell, let's just remember his man Armitage (leader of bad-ass death squads, err, counter-insurgency, err, post-surrender Phoenix program in Nam) slipped with Valerie Plame's name to Bob Novak. Then the two of them thought the better part of valor was to let the President and his advisers be harrassed in front of a grand jury for two years, while all the MSM published hysterical, scurrilous attacks on our elected government. Why didn't these guys speak up? Am I questioning Powell's patiotism? Oh yes.

Btw, if Bush created Al Qaeda in Iraq, y'know, they were never there until Bush summoned them from the dark ethers of the netherworld - would these be the same guys flying kites in Michael Moore's movie? Or, what would they be doing right now if we weren't in Iraq?

Yo Mat, I forgot about good ol' Pravda, which is now far to the right of the NYT. Looks like it's mostly chicks and weird airplanes.

Ирак отдают на растерзание "Хищникам"

7/14/2007 08:09:00 AM  

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