Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Crunch time again

Here are a couple of disturbing reports from Baghdad. Alaa the Mesopotamian says that its unclear which security forces are to be trusted.

March 28 .The situation in Baghdad is deteriorating from day to day. I have warned about this long ago. The "insurrection" is lead by the Baathists, without any doubt, and they are converging on Baghdad and seriously bent on taking over. They are creating havoc in in the capital. Very soon, if this situation continues like this the city is going to be brought to a complete standstill and paralysis. The confusion and conflict between the Americans, the army and the Ministry of interior is producing a situation where the citizens don't know anymore whether the security personel in the street are friends, enemies, terrorists or simply criminals and thieves. Everybody is wearing the same uniforms. Whole sections of the city have virtually fallen to gangs and terrorists, and this is specially true for the "Sunni" dominated neighborhoods. People and businesses are being robbed and the employees kidnapped en mass in broad daylight and with complete ease as though security forces are non-existent, although we see them everwhere.

Baghdad Burning reports a somewhat similar picture. She was watching television when a strange message was broadcast.

“The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.” ... We switched to another channel, the “Baghdad” channel (allied with Muhsin Abdul Hameed and his group) and they had the same news item, but instead of the general “coalition forces” they had “American coalition forces”. We checked two other channels. Iraqiya (pro-Da’awa) didn’t mention it and Forat (pro-SCIRI) also didn’t have it on their news ticker.

We discussed it today as it was repeated on another channel.

“So what does it mean?” My cousin’s wife asked as we sat gathered at lunch.

“It means if they come at night and want to raid the house, we don’t have to let them in.” I answered.

“They’re not exactly asking your permission,” E. pointed out. “They break the door down and take people away- or have you forgotten?”

“Well according to the Ministry of Defense, we can shoot at them, right? It’s trespassing-they can be considered burglars or abductors…” I replied.

The cousin shook his head, “If your family is inside the house- you’re not going to shoot at them. They come in groups, remember? They come armed and in large groups- shooting at them or resisting them would endanger people inside of the house.”

“Besides that, when they first attack, how can you be sure they DON’T have Americans with them?” E. asked.

We sat drinking tea, mulling over the possibilities. It confirmed what has been obvious to Iraqis since the beginning- the Iraqi security forces are actually militias allied to religious and political parties.

But it also brings to light other worrisome issues. The situation is so bad on the security front that the top two ministries in charge of protecting Iraqi civilians cannot trust each other. The Ministry of Defense can’t even trust its own personnel, unless they are “accompanied by American coalition forces”.

There's confirmation that something is up. The Guardian reports:

March 29  Unidentified gunmen opened fire in a trading company in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood Wednesday, killing eight employees and wounding six, police said. The men, some in police uniform, arrived at the al-Ibtikar Trade Contracting Co. in five black BMWs about 8:15 a.m., police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq said. Those killed included five men and three women, he said.

The motive of the attack in west Baghdad's Mansour district was not immediately clear. The assailants burned part of the building and didn't appear to have taken any money, Abdul-Razzaq said. Those who survived told police that the gunmen identified themselves as Iraqi Interior Ministry intelligence agents. They first asked for the manager, who was not in, then apparently gathered the victims together and shot each of them before fleeing, police and survivors said.

It's been announced that President Bush is opposing the candidacy of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. The Boston Globe reports a Los Angeles Times story:

March 29 ... the Bush administration has notified the dominant Shi'ite Muslim alliance that it opposes the nomination of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari for another term in office, a US official and Shi'ite politician said yesterday.

The message relayed from the White House by the US ambassador comes amid growing strain on relations between the United States and the Shi'ite bloc that leads Iraq's year-old interim administration. It is the most overt US bid thus far to engineer the choice of a less divisive leader for a four-year government.

Jaafari's nomination six weeks ago aroused fierce opposition from Sunni Arab, Kurdish, and secular parties represented in the parliament elected Dec. 15. US officials say the wrangling has frustrated Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad's efforts to broker the formation of a unity government and has created a power vacuum in which sectarian violence is flourishing.


The long delay in the formation of a unity government suggests that deep and possibly irreconcilable differences separate some Iraqi political factions. There may have been hope that Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad could broker an acceptable compromise. However, the notification by President Bush that he will not support Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari means that the US has decided to take sides in a situation where, formally at least, it should remain absolutely neutral.

However successful the US effort to train Iraqi Army units may be technically and operationally, the political problem of command, control and loyalty has so far remained unresolved. If Iraqi politicians decide to fight each other the splendid instrument that America created -- the Iraqi Army -- will be all the more destructive in an internecine war. Those working for a civil war are striving to create the impression that the Iraqi political institutions have already collapsed. The senseless attack on an upscale Baghdad trading company (no money was taken) by individuals in Iraqi policemen's uniforms was probably a propaganda operation designed to sow total distrust of any Interior Ministry forces.

My guess -- and it's only a hunch -- is that there may be a conflict between the obvious military requirement to keep the Iraqi Army firmly under American command to keep it from drifting away and the political requirement to keep up appearances of Iraqi control. It may be a replay of old debate over whether political or military aspects should have priority that so paralyzed the Fallujah operation in 2004. Bill Roggio noted that the Iraqi Army has mounted ten counterinsurgency operations in a week north of Baghdad. The better to keep them out of mischief. The warnings to beware of Iraqi patrols that Baghdad Burning heard over the TV were either prompted by intelligence that terrorists were going to impersonate troops (as happened in the raid on the trading company) or in recognition of the fact that many Iraqi security personnel were de-facto agents for political factions.

The fundamental problem is that while the logic of security demands keeping indigenous forces under American control, the political logic demands the opposite: taking them away and inexorably pushing them under the wing of a new unity government. Handing over to potential enemies the very thing they require to complete their plans. The Iraqi government has so far failed the test of representing all its constituencies. It is entirely possible that certain Sunni and Shi'ite political parties who hate each other are determined to sabotage the American effort; and to force the US to withdraw so they can fight it out even if it means devastating their own communities. The raids on Moqtada al-Sadr's men and the overt US opposition to Ibrahim al-Jaafari suggests the US is determined to excise what it considers to be hostile political factions by force if necessary, to clear the way for a possible unity government to emerge. Time will soon tell whether it will work or whether Iraq as a unitary nation is hopelessly compromised.


Some readers characterized this is a "gloomy" post, so perhaps there's a couple of things I should clarify. Unlike April 2004 when the insurgency broke out, I think the current problems are largely political rather than military in character. In April 2004, there were no trained security forces to control and hold a battlespace. Today those forces increasingly exist -- physically. But the political process hasn't kept pace with the creation of those security forces. The political process determines who controls those forces. History has shown Iraq can be controlled by a dictatorship, whether a colonial administration or under Saddam. The unresolved question is whether a democratic state can ever be a successor regime to a country with this kind of history. It's a problem, but it's a different problem, though maybe a worse problem than a purely military one. But my guess is that it's gone from battle-time (operating against insurgent forces) to purge-time (cleaning out hostile factions) and the emphasis has gone from facing the weaker enemy (the Sunni insurgency) to the stronger one: Iran.


Blogger lewy14 said...

Salam Pax, back in the begining, had a passage which disturbed me and has stuck with me:

Maybe we Iraqis did expect too much from the American invasion, we did hope there is going to be an easy way. Get rid of Saddam and have the Americans help us rebuild. I don't think like that anymore. I am starting to believe that the chaos we will go thru the next 5 or 10 years is part of the price we will *have* to pay to have our freedom. This Beirut-ification is the way to learn how we should live as a free country and respect each other; it is just too painful to admit. It is too painful to have to admit that the [burn it down to build it up] process is what we will have to go thru.

Still hoping he is wrong.

3/29/2006 04:44:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

From a political perspective the nation-building effort prescribed for post-Saddaam Iraq used post WWII Japan & Germany as a model.

However, from an operational standpoint those models were abandoned for some new theory of a kinder & gentler course.

Iraq will have to pay the price for her new democracy. If she tries to take shortcuts, it won't happen.

3/29/2006 04:45:00 AM  
Blogger HK Vol said...

If this is true, and is inevitable. Then we should advocate an immediate drawing of lines for three separate countries. And allow a 2-year window for all Iraqis to migrate to the new country they prefer. It seems that this is already happening:

3/29/2006 04:57:00 AM  
Blogger Bon Air said...

Failure is not an option for Iraq, period. There is too much riding on it. Bush has a almost 3 years and he will do what has to be done regardless of polls or parties or coyotes howling on TV.

Everyone expects a drawdown of troops by the fall because politicians need that for the election in November. The sad thing is that serious action will called for in the next few months to make this government work, not for the sake of Iraq, but because politicians in Washington need it to be reelected.

I don't think Bush will allow OIF to fail. What the next president will do is hard to say.

3/29/2006 05:13:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

The really funny thing about Baghdad Burning's post is that Iraqi TV was basically announcing "don't trust anyone but the Americans" or words to that effect.

The Iranians by all accounts, were playing for the End Game. The End Game has now arrived. And it will be different in character from what went before.

3/29/2006 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

If there are gangs in control of certain sectors/ neighborhoods in Bagdad, simply turn off all municipal services to those areas. Let the gangs provide for electricity, gas, water, garbage collection, etc.

3/29/2006 05:30:00 AM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

It's hard to tell what's going on; but, it appears that the nature of this battle has changed.
While the last few months have shown encouraging signs as the greater moslem body seems to be turning ever so slightly introspective since the cartoon debate came to a boil, and simultaneously, it appears that AQ/Zarqawi have pulled back from using Iraq as the battle ground to denounce the US/West...
...but, it appears that in Iraq, the insurgents have given up on winning the hearts and minds and moved into the tried and true brute force characterized by intimidation.
Normally, power must be met with power.
Hopefully, an indigenous leader will come forward that can impose curfews in Bagdad, suspension of certain rights, etc. without the risk of pay back by the shiites, which must inevitably be involved in the solution; so, that ultimately a political compromise can be reached.

3/29/2006 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/29/2006 06:05:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Once again, US has bungled a "Nation building" project. It was to be expected, I geuss, since in 2000 Mr Bush campaigned against the very idea of Nation building as an option in US Policy.
Now we are in the midst of a giant Nation buildiing collapse.

bon air puts his faith of success in Mr Bush, but Mr Bush has no record of success, no apparent Iraqi political capital to spend.

His only instrument of choice, the US Military, is not an Iraqi Political amimal nor a knife to cut out a political tumor, but a Hammer, that can smash the Enemy.

Now, after two years have passed since permitting Mr al-Sadr to raise up in Insurection and live, he has built a Political Base and has become a King maker, in Iraq.

To late Mr Bush has come to a decision, he opposes the nomination of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari for another term in office.
Well, to bad, the Election has been held, Mr al-Sadr and the current Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari won.
Iraq is not Florida, Mr al-Jaafari is not Mr Gore and Mr Bush does not get to play the part of the US Supremes. Sorry.

If Mr Bush wanted to be a King maker, he's played his cards poorly, at best.

Now he's decided that the ruling elite of Iraq, those elected through a three election process, may not not worthy of the US's stamp of approval. Will he admit failure if Mr Ibrahim al-Jaafari remains Prime Minister?

To bad Mr Bush could not decide on whom the Enemy was, two years ago.
He's a day late, perhaps he will not be a dollar short, as well.

Mr Bremmer said Mr Bush seemed a bit slow on the uptake of the situation, on the ground, in Iraq.
I had discounted Mr Bremer's reports about Mr Bush, an error it seems, on my part.

3/29/2006 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

What's Sistani been doing these days?

Doesn't anyone Good have a militia there?

What the hell's with this Jafaari guy? This is who they and we are enduring this impasse for? According to even fans, the man's an idiot. No one else could take his place? Or is this yet another weary instance of Arab-Islamo machismo - "YOU are not tell us who PM is!"

Amazing how debased the human capital is in that part of the world. I'd say the appropriate attitude is pity, but I find myself hoping the bird flu might take a turn south into the Middle East. Evidently, you can't even give them a country, so it's hard to see how we can resolve this. There must be Something we can do to figure this out: I regard this pullback as a breach of duty on our part to an extent that I'm not happy about. Poor Iraqis though, they must be freaked out.

3/29/2006 06:15:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Do the Shia desire a dictatorship? The rise of Fascism was largely animated by a reaction to Socialist over-aggression in Italy, Germany, Spain. An al-Sadr tyranny/theocracy would look different, but the power dynamics are similar.

Bah - who knows. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how this goes on a daily basis.

Does anyone know whether there is another significant "date" - election, whatnot - that we can refer to bouy the situation up in some sense? I'm not aware of one, if one exists.

3/29/2006 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Buehner said...

"If there are gangs in control of certain sectors/ neighborhoods in Bagdad, simply turn off all municipal services to those areas."

Unfortunately it wouldnt be much of a change. 'I don't think they'll get that message.'

3/29/2006 06:27:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

January '07 the UN's mandate for a US occupation of Iraq, expires.

That is the next preplanned "big date".

Of course the Iraqis were to have chosen a Government by now. I'd assume that until the current Parliment decides on Ibrahim al-Jaafari's replacement as Prime Minister, he remains in the chair. Since Mr Ibrahim al-Jaafari cannot bring a super majority to vote for him, in Parliment, it makes little real difference.

I doubt a super majority of Congress would vote to reinstall Mr Bush as President, either.

If a political majority will not get it done, in Iraq, according to the Rules the US wrote, we have designed and manufactured Systematic instability into Iraq's political structure.

dan, the Kurds have the "good" militia.

3/29/2006 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

The timing, I believe, shows some Iranian influence. If I were the Iranian strategist, now would be the time that I would start working on the flanks - if I expected an attack on my soil. Assets in place, start drawing attention away from the enemy goal - make their military exercise costly from the flanks rather than the front. If the front comes, I would have (already tested) harassers on the flanks that would occupy the enemies finite manpower.

3/29/2006 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

While the current situation may begin to favor the Iranians, and while it is sure that Mr al-Sadr is aligned with Iraq, rather than US, that is a historical norm.

Iran did not design the Iraqi Parliment and elcetion schemes. The US did. The US called for a "Unity Government" in a coutry with little Unitiy at all.

When majorities are not enough to win the political day, guns will come into play.

Mr Bremmer saw the writing on the wall. Mr Bush did not know who the Enemy was nor does he, yet today, announce just whom the enemy is, in Iraq.

3/29/2006 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Rega said...

The axiomatic rules for civil conflicts are, IIRC, a) don't get involved, and b)if you do get involved, make sure you're on the winning side. President Bush doesn't seem to think that Jafari represents the potential winning side anymore, if he ever did. Question is: Who does?
I agree that the current reports are 'disturbing' but they may indicate that militias are congealing into groups that can either be supported or opposed. Much of the sectarian killing reminds me of what happened in Afghanistan when the Russians finally were expelled - lots of score settling and personal/tribal vendettas. The civil war only started when the real play for power began. Bush's abandonment of Jafari indicates that we're jsut about there. We're still in a formidable position to decide which side comes out on top if things proceed in that direction.

3/29/2006 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

rat you've surrendered so many times I'm going to start calling you le rat.

The Iraqis are going to have to sort this out for themselves. So long as the national army doesn't split into warring factions a central government will get put together by tribal leaders.

The cost of doing otherwise is too high. Roving bands of troublemakers have the protection of anonymity and although they can create casualties they cannot determine an outcome. A power play necessitates a leader, a program, and a locus. While F-15s are in the air that triad is a death wish.

3/29/2006 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Great analysis Wretch.
I wonder how these developments support or contradict those who thought the Ba'athists Army should have been left intact.

Nation building is a messy and unnatural affair. No matter the best intentions, some of the building blocks just don't fit into the construction plans. One must be suspicious of wars that end with a wimper instead of a smoking, corpse littered battle field. But from what I gathered from your post, major military operations are drawing down and the battle field is now under the roof of parliment.

Interesting times.

3/29/2006 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

There is a maor difference between Afghanistan, after the Russians left and Iraq, today.

The US Military is still garrisoned, there in Iraq.

It's state of percieved impotence by the Iraqis is equivelent to the Afghans, after occupation, not during.

It shows the difference in respect, or fear, gained by those respective militaries from the occuppied peoples.

The Afghans were calm 'til the Russians left. The Iraqis pay US no never mind.

3/29/2006 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...


Don't disagree on any point you made - If politics is the "end game". I don't believe that it is. Not that I've ever been wrong..... :-)

This could get interesting if this isolated action in Iraq is just a front in the big picture.

3/29/2006 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger Solomon2 said...

Like I said over at Alaa's site, it looks like someone lost control of the uniforms. I can think of three possibilities:

1) The Iraqi gov't is becoming so fractured politically that its different leaders are directing the government and non-government troops under their command as they wish;

2) The men supposed to wear the uniforms are disloyal to the Iraqi government.

3) The uniforms have been stolen by terrorists. (I recall reports of uniforms sent to laundry and never returned.)

4) Extra/duplicate uniforms have been manufactured for the terrorists. This could be due to (a) gross negligence on the part of the coalition/Iraqi forces, or (b) a state-sponsored campaign to suitably equip diversionary (terrorist) forces to disrupt Iraq.

It is tempting to pick 4b. The Iranian mullahs have every interest in keeping Iraq a mess and so reduce the possibility of military action against them as politial pressure against their nuclear program reaches a peak.

3/29/2006 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

No, pb, I claimed the War in Iraq was won, well over a year ago.

What we are involved with now, it is the internal politics of a country that not only do we not understand the culture, like England, we do not even speak the language.

Our troops are not in combat, Saddam has been deposed, for years now and all UN Resolutions have been complied with.

Define Victory if the free election of a Prime Minister does not.
Will Democracy have won if the US chooses the Iraqi Prime Minister?
We could have done that 30 months ago. The illegitimacy of whomever replaces Mr Ibrahim al-Jaafari as Prime Minister will be self evident across the Mohammedan Arc.
The entire "Democracy" push will be promoted and seen by the civilians in the Region as a fraud.

The would be a defeat, pb.
Not a tactical defeat or setback but a Strategic one to the Bush Doctrine.
Opposing Mr Ibrahim al-Jaafari is tantamount to admitting that Iraqi voters do not know what is best for Iraq.
That US Autocrats do.

Which may well be the case in reality. But the propaganda value to the Mohamedan despots, priceless.

The mad Mullahs must approve the Candidate list in Iran.
The US President must approve of the voters choice in Iraq.

Which is totalitarian?

3/29/2006 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Why not legalize all Iraqis as US Citizens?
Borders are so yesterday.
Just give them all free Drugs, Medical Care, and In-State College Tuition.
Victor Davis Hanson up next on Ingraham:
Nice State, while it lasted.
55% of all LA County Jails filled with our friends, the Illegal Aliens., legalize them.
Should work in Iraq too, no?
Si se puedes!

3/29/2006 07:35:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Opposing Mr Ibrahim al-Jaafari is tantamount to admitting that Iraqi voters do not know what is best for Iraq.
That US Autocrats do.
Same as here:
What's the big deal?
Install Fox as World President.

3/29/2006 07:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bon air: "Failure is not an option"

Big words.

The question is not, "is failure optional"? The question is, "what is necessary to prevent failure"?

And, of course, to answer that question, you must have some concept of what would constitute success.

Just because the Colonial Office thought that "Iraq" and "Pakistan" were smashingly good ideas does not make them real nations.

You can bluster and brag as much as you like, but you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and you cannot clothe the Emperor with words.

If you want the people who are at war with us to stop, you must occupy their lands, kill their leaders, and reeducate their children and grandchildren.

To do this, you must raise, supply, and sustain a honking great army and huge navy, and do so for decades.

Or, you can try quarantine. I don't include genocide as a third option, because we won't do it.

Or, you could lose.

3/29/2006 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Why not, doug, he can put 500,000 people on the streets of LA.
Waving that Mexican Banner. The infantry massed behind it, ready to rally to it's defense.

But like the French in Paris, against the Mohammedan suburbanites, the Police let the crowd go it's own way. On to freeways and blocking traffic.

We belittled the French response, and do not even discuss crowds of 500,000 roaming in LA, Atzland.

3/29/2006 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger bebula said...

If the Sadr militia follows the same apocalyptic vision that is the current face of Iran, "Operation Hidden Iman" may well be underway...

The destruction of the sectarian militias seems increasingly necessary to secure the peace -- especially those driven by religious fanatacism rather than pragmatic need.

3/29/2006 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"Maybe we Iraqis did expect too much from the American invasion, we did hope there is going to be an easy way. Get rid of Saddam and have the Americans help us rebuild. I don't think like that anymore."

Well, Salam, there are VERY intelligent people on THIS blog, who are beginning to realize that I may not be so naive, ignorant and ignorable after all, in continuously calling them to INVESTIGATE Baha'u'llah!

Not just because He spent 10 years under house-arrest in Baghdad; and not just because He was so positively influential ANYWAY that thousands of well-wishers turned out in the streets of Baghdad, 1863, to cry, wail and beg Him to stay when the Muslim clergy in Iran prevailed on the Iraqis to exile Him further!

But more because He is the Source of Divine guidance for THIS Day and Age; He is the only One Who came at the time foretold by Jesus; with the message, life and authority born of authenticity credentialed as was Jesus' authority.

He has established Isaiah's 'House of the Lord' to which 'all nations flow'... and it behoves us, in this Day, to learn what He says rather than engage in what Saint Peter warned us is a 'damnable heresy', 'scoffing and denying our lord' has returned.

Baha'u'llah, and His Teachings, are critical to solving/resolving Iraq problems, Iranian problems, HUMAN-SPIRIT problems...

3/29/2006 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger C-Low said...

The police and army don’t trust warnings is I would think due in large part to the fact that that the Insurgents/Militia ect.. have in raid after raid been caught with uniforms. Also remember Saddam made thousands of US mill uniforms copies pre-invasion and the IA is using our old Army fatigues (the ones he copied).

The police are a problem infiltrated by the Militia but police are a local force that is always by being local influenced by the local hood.

I believe this is Iran trying to stir trouble though Sadr and crew they know damm well they are next and if Iraq gets stable enough to leave we may go east. But also keep in mind that Sadr was sparred back in 04’-05’ because we needed to concentrate on the Sunni forces, temporary truce of sorts.

The Militia’s Sadr especially have always been a problem with the Sunni now woke up to reality we can turn to the militia issue/iran/sadr. Whispers are already coming on how more people are dieing in sectarian violence than insurgent and Iran is meddling in Iraq big time. That gives us justification to do two things in Iraq pick a fight with the militia (already started yesterday in the Sadr office raid), and turn on the rhetoric against Iran a natural enemy who we are fast approaching game time with.

I remember once the blood rolled enough the Iraqi leadership calling for invasion and buffer zone in Syria, wonder how long this will go before such cries come for Iran?

Is this game a huge gamble hell yeah it was from day one that’s why the EU nearly sh*t themselves thinking of it. Will we win in the end who knows? Bush has got 3yrs left and unless the Dems run the board in 06’ doubtful, we are going to see this thing to completion. After all if we leave Iraq declare victory in the WOT like the Dems want and stop short of finishing the WOT (Iran+) all was for not.

The next couple of months or year is going to be real interesting to say the least. By the way the bloodiest years of WW2 for US was the last 2 and every move risked defeat and set back.

Le Rat I like that he has surrendered more times than the media.

3/29/2006 07:53:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

16,11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her: 'Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son; and thou shalt call his name Ishmael, because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. 16,12 And he shall be a wild ass of a man: his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren.'

3/29/2006 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger C-Low said...


The majority does not support Jafari. Iraq is parliamentary meaning the people vote for party list that then vote on the pres/parliamentary leadership ect. Jafarri barley won his own parties nomination by only one vote. The Alawi/Sunni/Kurd blocks a majority when put together all doesn’t want Jafari. Jafari must win majority in parliament to be approved and a little over half of half of parliament is a little over a quarter and no damm majority.

So Jafari is far from being a majority candidate. There is much talk that the Kurd/Alawi/Sunni blocs will join with the SCIRI and dump Jafari for the SCIRI candidate who lost by one vote to Jafari (in the UIA party vote not whole parliament vote).

Jafari is an Iran leaning guy who is well aligned with the Shia radicals likes Sadr and their competition for Irans hand in marriage DAWA (Jafari’s own party I mind you).

So in reality-supporting Jafari would be undemocratic and actually assisting Iran choose the Iraqi candidate Rat.

Roggio did a great peace on this the other day and I remember the same descriptions of which stands were by ITM before the election. Go read

3/29/2006 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You may get your wish yet. These Iraqi idiots are badly in need some tough loving. Like a spoiled teenager, they need a taste of what real life is like outside the comfortable sofa that we provide. Let Sadr or anyone else that raises their voice at us try and get Iran to provide for the basic necessities. From Iran. Same with the Sunni donkeys. Let Saudia provide for them. Let's see the real players show their hand and try to override us.

We may yet name the enemy.

3/29/2006 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Sorry, should have said "if Iraqi politics is the "end game"" in my response to D.R.

I tend to agree with some of our more "hawkish" commentors here. Fluid tactics are not only practiced by desert tribes, I would think that a srategist or two may be rolling the numbers on Iran here.

If there is one thing that I believe about G.W., he does what he says he will do. Does anyone here really think that Iraq was the end of this? If you did, you have been drinking a little too much kool-aid. Sorry, didn't mean to get pejorative...

This brings up a bit of Augustinian thinking. Doesn't this preface a "just war" on Iran? Doesn't the Augustinian creed believe that the "Just War" includes the use of force to protect an innocent neighbor from harm?

3/29/2006 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

srategist? Sorry - strategist. Altogether now.. "Preview is your FRIEND"

3/29/2006 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...


What are you saying "Long live Iraq - an American nanny state"?

3/29/2006 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

In due course, we may draw ample lessons from all the “woulda”, “coulda”, “shoulda”. Who knows, these hard won nuggets of wisdom might even be internalized and incorporated into some kind of national strategy.

Nation building is a fool’s game. When a culture has reached critical political mass a nation may result, such as the unification of the plethora of Germanys in the nineteenth century – a process very, very, very long in the making, it is often forgotten.

While apologists (meant in the classic, none pejorative sense) for the present US nation building policy never fail to point to the success of the revitalization of the defeated former Axis powers, post 1945, it is forgotten that those peoples, though momentarily bruised by defeat, retained intact a strong national identity. American diplomats did not have to beg, cajole, and threaten. If asked his nationality, a German or Japanese could answer frankly, unambiguously. I would guess the same question, if put to an Iraqi, after some embarrassing confusion, would elicit a sectarian or tribal response.

The US might have to admit that no such nation as Iraq exists, save artificially, and that façade has been maintained for eight decades by more or less continuous violence. When Mr. Churchill et al, possibly over drinks, doodled the boundaries of the thing called Iraq, they might as well have added Atlantis or parts of Mars, for all it was worth.

The Bush Administration ought to consider the value of simple, unadorned truth; i.e. it could state the obvious: the US will be in the region in force for decades, with the sole mission of protecting the interests of the United States and its allies. In short, the fight is all about oil, the very life blood of the industrial world, and nuclear proliferation; therefore, get over it.

3/29/2006 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm saying Ash, nobody can be that incompetent, not even Arabs. If the Iraqi security forces don't have their act together after 3 years of US nanny'ing, then there's probably good reason for that. It's not incompetence, it's bad faith. And it's time for a new approach.

3/29/2006 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...


The next Prime Minister must be chosen with a two thirds majority.

At this point no Candidate has such a majority, if they did the Parliment would reconvene and he would be elected.

That the US choose this time to attack a detachment of Mr al-Sadr's militia and dump on Mr Ibrahim al-Jaafari, politically is telling. But if he holds just a third of Parliment, he holds the Prime Minister's seat, does he not?

No new Prime Minister can be chosen with less than a 2/3rd majority. Or so it would seem.

If we depose him, with firepower, after choosing not to deploy force against the al-Sadr contingent for all these years, it plays to the Mohammedan propaganda machine.

The "Democracy" wheels will have fallen off the truck.

3/29/2006 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

"But my guess is that it's gone from battle-time (operating against insurgent forces) to purge-time (cleaning out hostile factions) and the emphasis has gone from facing the weaker enemy (the Sunni insurgency) to the stronger one: Iran"

If the Sunni insurgency leaders coughed-up Zarqawi and the other jihadi leaders pursuant to an agreement with US to take on the Iranian-backed militias - then I could see us moving against those militias. Without that, we would simply be opening another front - which the Sunni's would gleefully exploit. Does anyone here think the US public would tolerate casualties on the order of 200-500 a month as we open a two front war? If the administration had that in mind it would have to be surging additional troops to Iraq to handle the increased violence. We are not - we are drawing down.

It also appears that this administration is not prepared to do anything militarily to stop Iran from acquiring nukes. Any leader contemplating such action would have had to begin to significantly increase the size of the U.S. army and marines (by 200,000 or more troops some time ago. This is not because those forces would be needed to occupy Iran - but becaue they would be needed to help suppress the inevitable Iranian retaliation thoughout the middle-east, especially in Iraq.

None of that preparation has begun - which is why Iran is so confident.

3/29/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger FleshInTension said...

Lightning war only works if people want to be liberated. It is not our problem if they want to kill each other off after we liberate them? Is this not their right to do so in a democratically elected government?

The problem with the current method of nation building is that too many die-hards did not get the chance to die. Japan, Germany, Italy, after more than 6 years, war thinned out the die hards so the remainder did not really want to die. This is the problem with a "Lightning War" as practiced by Germany WW2, US OIF.

The best practice; for an Iranian invasion, would be to go in, form a circle and let the die-hards die on the ramparts. Ceaser; conquest of Gual.

If Iran wants to use Nukes, even better; don't we still have the "kill the people not the buildings bomb" somewhere? I'd like to give the Kurds more land.

3/29/2006 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger FleshInTension said...

Lightning war only works if people want to be liberated. It is not our problem if they want to kill each other off after we liberate them? Is this not their right to do so in a democratically elected government?

The problem with the current method of nation building is that too many die-hards did not get the chance to die. Japan, Germany, Italy, after more than 6 years, war thinned out the die hards so the remainder did not really want to die. This is the problem with a "Lightning War" as practiced by Germany WW2, US OIF.

The best practice; for an Iranian invasion, would be to go in, form a circle and let the die-hards die on the ramparts. Ceaser; conquest of Gual.

If Iran wants to use Nukes, even better; don't we still have the "kill the people not the buildings bomb" somewhere? I'd like to give the Kurds more land.

3/29/2006 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Iranian bloggers--article on gov't crackdown--on msn/slashdot--

3/29/2006 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...


What war are you fighting? Your casualty numbers are derived from what? What scenario do you see 200-500 casualties a month? An increase in theater force strength of 200,000? Again, with what scenario?

3/29/2006 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger C-Low said...


You are right about the 2/3rds my error.

But even so 3/4 trumps 2/3. If SCIRI just shy half of UIA go with the Kurd/Sunni/Alawi block just over half of parliament then they have the ability to depose Jafari. Jafari and the Shia radicals are playing hardball not compromising thinking they can play the game you explained that Jafari is default leader until 2/3 can depose him.

That game may backfire on them especially with the blood getting deeper by the day in the street. Most Shia doesn’t like Iran they fought against Iran and they like the rest of Iraqi’s want to live in a peace were they can go to work have kids and live their life. Sadr and boys are not all that popular with their radicalism proven by their lack of support against the US. What I mean is currently most Shia feel obligated to the UIA for protection if it becomes apparent that joining the other blocs instead will stop the bleeding they may shift and form a true unified government with the rest of Iraq.

3/29/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

With all due respect, Baghdad Burning is not the most objective source for real news in Iraq. She is Sunni and it has been a point of consideration, among her first readers, that she was connected to the previous administration. For more gloom one can go to the Opinionjournal and read Amir Taheri's assesment of the ME.

3/29/2006 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Bon Air said...

D.R. said:

"Well, to bad, the Election has been held, Mr al-Sadr and the current Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari won."

Jaafari has not in fact won. He has to be accepted by 2/3 majority. There is a good chance the Shia will not stay together as one coalition. Some may unite with the kurds and Suuni to stop Sadr and Jaafari.

My faith is not just in Bush. It is in the fact that a complete failure in Iraq is catastophic for west as a whole. I agree that the military is not the best choice for nation building. The more I read the more I believe Mr Bremmer was in charge of some serious bungling earlier on. Bush puts people in charge and lets them run with it. In several instances he not been served well.

3/29/2006 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

The $64,000 question is:

Can the Iraqis form a stable government?

The Iraqi people have shown that they can participate in an organized election. However their representatives were selected along religious, ethnic and tribial lines (the election was more of a census than anything else). Their elected representatives appear to be unable to advance their interests through reasoned arguments and compromise. Instead they are defaulting to the old Middle Eastern standard of using violence to resolve political differences. Maybe a period of civil unrest is unavoidable while the different factions wipe out the surviving Baathists, foreign jihadiis and Iranian clients? Only after these people have been removed from the political process will it be possible for the Iraqis to form a government.

One would think the Iraqis are tired of violence but apparently not. All we can do is try to hold the place together while the Iraqis slug it out amongst themselves.

No doubt while watching this, the mullahs in Iran are smiling serenely while sipping their tea.

3/29/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...


I think it is reasonable to expect that any effort to confront Iran's influence in Iraq will require significant military action by the U.S. If we confront the militias without an agreement with the Sunni insurgency (and without the Jihadi presence largely incapacitated), we should expect casualties at least as high as those that we took in the period when we confronted Sadr in Najaf and the Sunni's in Fallujah. I say "at least" becuase I would expect the fighting to be much broader against the militias and becuase ther ewould be no quitting the fight against the Sunni's to concentrate our efforts (as we were able to do in the first assault on Falluja).

I do not have the casualty numbers (KIA) from that period - but, I am confident that they were over 100 per month. Is 200 or more KIA a month an unreasonable assumption under those circumstances? I don't think so.

As far as you comment: "An increase in theater force strength of 200,000?"

I did not say that they had to be put in theater - I said we needed to be available (for long term deployment) in the event that we do attack the Iranian facilties. do you think we could attack Iran and expect that there will be no repercussions that would reqire additional U.S. forces? Where are those troops going to come from?

In the end, it would do the administration (from a deterrence standpoint) and the military a great deal of good to significantly increase the size of the U.S. gound forces.

3/29/2006 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Bon Air said...


We have already won the battle in Iraq, we just haven't won the peace. Success in Iraq now is akin to catching a greased pig.

Complete failure cannot be an option because the consequences.

I say success would be taking out these bastards from Iran and Syria and stopping their influence. I believe things would be a lot different, still conflict but not at this current dangerous level

3/29/2006 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger pete speer said...

Let me see. We have staked our reputation on the idea of making democracies happen. But Muslim society has advanced no further than fourteenth century Christianity -- when nation states allied with the R.C. church each to share power. Mill and Locke were not even born yet.

When they appeared their secular political philosophy came out of and in parallel with the development of the Reformation. The thrall in which the princedoms and dukedoms were held by the papacy was loosned.

There has as yet been no parallel development of a secular philosophy in the Muslim world. Democracy has not been defined in translatable terms.

Of the two major divisions, Shia was invested with the parallel development of civil and religious society. A schism within Shia and located in Iran developed a philosophy which permitted the overthrow of the Shah by the Persian Mullahs.

We had a failure to understand that this was indeed a schism and that the Arab Shia in Iraq and elesewhere still held the true faith. America was caught in a crack of its own making, The whole history of the Shah's overthrow, the failure of the rescue operation, the Iran-Contra hijinks led to a view of the Iranians as being the dominant part of Shia. We did not have the ability, either strategically or politically to differentiate between Arabs and Persians. Further, we did not have the ability to separate the theocratic Imams of Sunni Wah'habism from the Shia mullahs.

These errors infected the supposed strategic aim of the United States, blinding us to the necessary conditions for a unitary democracy. We took the United States as the model, but forgot that the Articles of Conderation came first.

Wven with the Lockian approach, a common language and wide variations of religious belief, the first attempts to organize our nation states into a single country, the Articles of Confederation retained for each of the former colonies an independence of action in nearly all fields. Only when it became evident to each that a unitary government was necessary was a constitution and bill of rights ratified.

We allowed none of this in the eastern world of Iraq.

We did not learn from our own experience. Is it in any way surprising that we have, Houston, a problem.

A very expensive and continuing problem.

We promised the American people the destruction of all WMD -- but have not found any. We promised the elimination of Iraq as a terrorist base and they remain. We promised the people that we would tailor a unitary democracy, The suit does not fit.

3/29/2006 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/29/2006 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

"Complete failure cannot be an option because the consequences."

It may not be an option but it may be the reality. Though failure, like success, depends upon how one would define those terms in the Iraq context.

What specific consequences are so feared by failure in Iraq? Are these the same dominos that were to fall with failure in Vietnam? Obviously not, but what dominos are set to topple now?

3/29/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

bon air,
I was using "won" incorrectly. Just as Mr Gore "won" in 2000, but systematicly, did not.

Mr Ibrahim al-Jaafari's Party won, the largest bloc of seats in Parliment.
He won his Party with a simple majority 50%+1

But he has not yet "won" the PM's seat. But he has not relinguished it, either.

The battle could have remained in the Halls of Parliment, but it seems to be flowing into the streets.
The Battle against the Shia Militias, that could make the fight against the Sunni pale in comparison, just by the greater numbers of Shia that the new Insurgency will be able to draw from.
If half of the Shia support Mr Ibrahim al-Jaafari & Mr al-Sadr's position, that still represents 30% of the Country.
Half again the total Sunni numbers.
More than enough for turmoil.

3/29/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...

This has reinforced two very different things for me:

1. Parlimentary government versus US style representative government has the major drawback of elected officials who aren't responsible to a definite localized constituency. It leads to politicians who don't have to compromise or moderate, and aren't answerable for the conditions on the ground anywhere.

2. Initiative is king. Either you're disrupting the opposition's OODA Loop, or they yours. Things move so quickly now that everything is like a jet-powered dog fight. Anyone who wants to influence events has to be fully engaged. The US has proven that they have the ability to get inside anyone else's OODA Loop, but they haven't made part of the Orientaton-Observation cycle to identify threats to their next cycle. Nor have they yet arrived at a large scale reflex.

Basically, the US has not responded to strategic shifts with the same creativity and speed that it responds to tactical shifts. They don't identify the next set of threats very well. The US whacked the Saddamists, and al-Zaqarwi popped up. The US smacks AQ/Foreign terrorists around, and the Iranian proxies pop up. Gee, after we get the Iranian proxies under control, do you think some other players will show?

Notice the movement of conflict. It went from Baghdad and the SE, to the West, back to Baghdad and the East. When the US turns its attention back to Baghdad and parts East, what will happen in the west? Is the US ready to pop the Syrian/Wahabbi/al-Qaeda guys coming from the West? No. It'll be another "shocking" development.

The US has surrendered the initiative. It is busy running around putting out fires. That means that they aren't clearing dead wood and dry brush in the next area. And it really annoys me that 99%+ of the US Force (pretty much every military person in country) has done heroic work. But the guys up top won't change the scope of the mission to match the truth on the ground.

3/29/2006 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

The mullahs have a big stake in the outcome in Iraq. An improving standard of living in Iraq, regardless of the composition of the Iraqi government, is a death sentence for the mullahs who have failed in 25 years to deliver the goods.

It is reasonable to expect that the mullahs will do everything and anything they think can get away with to keep the Iraqi pot boiling. Same for the Syrian Baathists. While some are quick to cluck cluck at the US Administration the fact is that the mullahs aren't doing all that well. And the stakes are much higher for them than for GWB.

Unless and until the Iraqi national army turns into a mob all the Baghdad machinations are just background noise.

3/29/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

If no such nation as Iraq exists, then no such nations as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, or the Arabian peninsular states exist either. Indeed, this is a relic of Ottoman suzereignty: the Sultan was the Lord, and all else was fluidity, infighting, Mamluke-Turkish rivalries, and so on. The nation is a Western conception; China is not a nation so much as a recent evolution of a inward-looking, Beijing-dominated multi-province mass of people. And so on. This is not a reasonable criticism of Iraq. The specific habits of the people there are the substance of the difficulties there, and for that America cannot be blamed. America can be blamed for breaching its duty of temporary sovereignty by not dramatically slaughtering al-Sadr to demonstrate the boundaries of the Hobbesian Arab irrascibility (no, the looters would have been a stupid, easily exploited way to make this point). But as the anti's never tire of pointing out, we cannot change the nature of Iraqi Arabs or mollify their hatreds, nor make them believe anything they do not wish to believe. Thus the wisdom of republican liberalism and the tragedy of totalitarianism. But if the problem is, as I believe it to be, one of a failure of national will - and I doubt it's a failure of military imagination, given the obvious comparative supercompetence of our armed forces - that precludes, by political machination, the use of inherently unpopular and undesired but transparently necessary measures such as asserting the rule of law via the public drawing and quartering of upstart insurrectionaries, particularly if they happen to be even temporarily successful. It is well within the intent and character of our tenure in Iraq to attempt to force the hand of an actor whose particular variety of irrationality, however traditionally honored there, will lead to an increase in basic human misery. Jafaari must go; every party but 2 are against him. Obstinance on this point is not only the opposite of democracy, it is the manifestation of the kind of - frankly, accurately - myopic tribal stupidity that the Greater Middle East Initiative must confront on at least a instrumental, procedural, political level, even if we have little hope of irradicating the habit from the populace as a whole.

3/29/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What specific consequences are so feared by failure in Iraq? Are these the same dominos that were to fall with failure in Vietnam?

Not dominos, but dominos of Perception(s). These are much more damaging. If the US cannot stamp its political will in Iraq and the ME in general, where its most vital strategic interests lie, then the challenges to its political will (free markets, free press, democracy, property rights, etc), will only increase and intensify. Perhaps Ash, you prefer a different kind of life. If so, maybe it's time you be honest with us, and more important be honest with yourself.

3/29/2006 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger david bennett said...

2 years ago the problem was not primarily military. When Bush (uder instructions from Limbaugh) overode General Conmway and ordered the Marines into Falluja the attack was stopped not due to military problems, but because the appointed Iraqi authorities and the people protested so vigorously with the situation threatening to escalate beyond control. Recall Shiites were sending aid to Sunni Flluaja.

Similarly the decision to attack Sadr at the same time (stretching forces insanely, forcing units to be rapidly thrown together) was political. The operation was halted and Sadr allowed to become defacto ruler of half of Baghdad for political not military reasons.

At that time you and your readers had no conception that Shiite militias could be as dangerous as the insurgency, of the role of mafias, of the many seething forces, it was all go out and shoot the bad guys and you have declared total success many times since then.

You were dancing with joy a year ago because we could break up the blatant occupations of the insurgents in Sunni cities and villages, not caring that they still came back in the dark to kill and extort, that they smiled and waved at Americans while planning, that they lived in a vision of millinium long history while you and your kind dismiss the possibility of something if it doesn't happen within a week of when predicted.

You rejoiced at the relative pece of the Sunni south despite the warnings by Steve Vincent that they teemed with death squads and were ruled by forces as hostile to us as the Sunni insurgents. It was good news all the time.

In closing one more set of comments from all the military experts you sought to ignore in the belief that Rush was the world's greatest startegist. Just remember that be blocking debate so that those who were concerned were portrayed to the public as American hating leftists you helped block the political process of reform that could have made our odds much better.

Eric Haney, a retired command sergeant major of the U.S. Army, was a founding member of Delta Force, the military's elite covert counter-terrorist unit. He culled his experiences for "Inside Delta Force" (Delta; $14), a memoir rich with harrowing stories, though in an interview, Haney declines with a shrug to estimate the number of times he was almost killed. (Perhaps the most high-profile incident that almost claimed his life was the 1980 failed rescue of the hostages in Iran.) Today, he's doing nothing nearly as dangerous: He serves as an executive producer and technical adviser for "The Unit," CBS' new hit drama based on his book, developed by playwright David Mamet. Even up against "American Idol," "The Unit" shows muscle, drawing 18 million viewers in its first two airings.

Since he has devoted his life to protecting his country in some of the world's most dangerous hot spots, you might assume Haney is sympathetic to the Bush administration's current plight in Iraq (the laudatory cover blurb on his book comes from none other than Fox's News' Bill O'Reilly). But he's also someone with close ties to the Pentagon, so he's privy to information denied the rest of us.

We recently spoke to Haney, an amiable, soft-spoken Southern gentleman, on the set of "The Unit."

Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?

A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.

Q: What is the cost to our country?

A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we had. ... And I say "we," because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have from now on.

Our military is completely consumed, so were there a real threat - thankfully, there is no real threat to the U.S. in the world, but were there one, we couldn't confront it. Right now, that may not be a bad thing, because that keeps Bush from trying something with Iran or with Venezuela.

The harm that has been done is irreparable. There are more than 2,000 American kids that have been killed. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed ñ which no one in the U.S. really cares about those people, do they? I never hear anybody lament that fact. It has been a horror, and this administration has worked overtime to divert the American public's attention from it. Their lies are coming home to roost now, and it's gonna fall apart. But somebody's gonna have to clear up the aftermath and the harm that it's done just to what America stands for. It may be two or three generations in repairing.

Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney ...

A: (Interrupting) That's Cheney's pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than small-minded, and look what it does.

I've argued this on Bill O'Reilly and other Fox News shows. I ask, who would you want to pay to be a torturer? Do you want someone that the American public pays to torture? He's an employee of yours. It's worse than ridiculous. It's criminal; it's utterly criminal. This administration has been masters of diverting attention away from real issues and debating the silly. Debating what constitutes torture: Mistreatment of helpless people in your power is torture, period. And (I'm saying this as) a man who has been involved in the most pointed of our activities. I know it, and all of my mates know it. You don't do it. It's an act of cowardice. I hear apologists for torture say, "Well, they do it to us." Which is a ludicrous argument. ... The Saddam Husseins of the world are not our teachers. Christ almighty, we wrote a Constitution saying what's legal and what we believed in. Now we're going to throw it away.

Q: As someone who repeatedly put your life on the line, did some of the most hair-raising things to protect your country, and to see your country behave this way, that must be ...

A: It's pretty galling. But ultimately I believe in the good and the decency of the American people, and they're starting to see what's happening and the lies that have been told. We're seeing this current house of cards start to flutter away. The American people come around. They always do.

3/29/2006 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger MrMyke said...

What? Somehow it makes this post LESS "gloomy" to say the problem is "political, not military"?

Does anyone here believe Vietnam went wrong for us because of military reasons? Of course not. The failure there was political.

So, tell me again why we can take ANY comfort in saying we are having political, but not military, problems in Iran?

Wretchard's post WAS gloomy because even he can no longer turn a blind eye to the growing reality in Iraq. I've been reading this blog for years, and wondering how Wretchard can be so insightful on some issues, but so wilfully blind on the situation in Iraq. It is good to see this gloomy post temper this history. The more folks who come to Wretchard's growing realization, the better -- the better to getting out in a way that salvages as many of the gains we made as possible.

3/29/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Villars said...

I was surprised when there wasn't more revenge killing right after the fall of Baghdad. With all the chaos I'd have thought it would have been the perfect time for "an-eye-for-an-eye" revenge.

Why is this happening now and not before? If it truely is political I suppose that explains it but what a mess if this isn't just a blood fued that would eventually burn itself out.

3/29/2006 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

I think you've nailed it. The only way Iraq can be held together is with strong-arm methods as employed by Saddam. Otherwise there will be neither consensus nor peace. It is the heritage, tradition and history of these folks to solve their issues with the sharp end of a sword.

Overall, civil war may be an inevitable and, while it would be tragic for the people of Iraq who have already long suffered, it wouldn't be the worst eventuality for US. Oil being the risk.

The same could be said for Iran, Syria, KSA, Pakistan.......etc.

Those that practice Islam need to sort things out for themselves. It will be bloody given their ideology. It is unfortunate that al Queda chose to involve the US but that's history now.

I say the Rx is regime change sans nation building for Islamic states. Let them hammer it out.

Meanwhile we've got our own problems.

3/29/2006 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...

This is why the Great Game sucks. It is attritive in nature. The US is delivering attrition on disposable proxies, while taking direct attrition. The other major players (Iran, Russia, China) are playing for control in 2016. Disrupting stability in Iraq fixes the US in one place. Fixing the US in one place allows it to be bled.

Ideally, the US would play proxy somewhere else to draw attention away. My personal suggestion is to withdraw US diplomatic cover from Russia on the Chechnya issue. It would make Russia expend more capital on that, and give Iran some hope of influence across the Caspian.

3/29/2006 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...


"Not dominos, but dominos of Perception(s). These are much more damaging. If the US cannot stamp its political will in Iraq and the ME in general, where its most vital strategic interests lie, then the challenges to its political will (free markets, free press, democracy, property rights, etc), will only increase and intensify."

Whether one wishes it or not it appears that failure is a definite possibility. If it should occur I'm guessing we all agree that the blame lay firmly upon Mr. Bush's shoulders? The fearless, bold visionary, whom led US into this shifting pile of sand.

3/29/2006 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Deuce ☂ said...

It appears that an earlier decision to back the Sunnis, when Saddaam was at war with Iran, was the right decision. The Sunnis are at least capable of running a modern society if not a democratic one. The Shiite faction is not going to accept any notion of democracy that shares power with the Sunni no more than the Catholic Church is going to reconstitute itself with Judaism. We will never see a Shiite democracy. We will see another Shiite theocracy. Give this round to Iran.

America should eliminate the naive notion of building any Muslim democracy. It will not happen. We now have to face the long-term reality of Islamic fundamentalism and it’s incompatibility with the western democracies. We must isolate the Islamists at every possible level. We need Sunni autocrats to help. We have proved one thing and that is our willingness and capability of removing regimes that we feel are against our interest. That lesson has not been missed. We need to be clear to express that to Iran and ruthless enough to act if our interests dictate. That is enough to give any autocrat pause. It is credible if we are not tied down in an endless conflict in Iraq. It is time to say farewell to a failed idea and leave Iraq. We can promise to return if a regime appears that is overtly or covertly hostile to US interests. The US could then credibly assure the Iranians that we will not attempt to make them democratic, but we will not hesitate to remove any regime that supports any level of hostile action against us.

3/29/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

"I say the Rx is regime change sans nation building for Islamic states. "

Nation building Islamic states seems unlikey to impossible but probably necessary unless we want either (A) perpetual war, or (B) lessons in Arabic.

The real enemy is the ankle biting Left in this country and the apathy of the Europeans. Maybe at the core it's the same problem.

3/29/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...


Thanks for the explanation. The questions addressed to you were questions, not disagreements. This medium does not allow any ambiguities - you can't read my mind....

The "in theater" question was just that. A question of whether your premise was that we needed a 200K injection in theater or an increase of overall force strength in the military.

On in-theater strength, I don't disagree that reserves will be needed for rear defense in Iraq if there is a ground war in Iran.

On casualties, the numbers that the U.S. populace will allow are (I believe) indirectly proportional to the number of news-cycles dedicated to death,despair and agony. Possibly with some direct-proportional weighting for Internet blog coverage. Not exact science, but suggestions would be welcome to mathematically describe the general publics response to adversity. Kidding...

The reality as I see it in the ME is that Iraq was necessary geography for movement to Iran. I have been discussing with neighbors the necessity of Iraq geography for a continued threat against Iran - if they so chose to escalate the WoT. The other side of it is an excellent position to move to Saudi Arabia if needed. These discussions are in a pure military context, no political weighting in the mix.

3/29/2006 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

If it should occur I'm guessing we all agree that the blame lay firmly upon Mr. Bush's shoulders? The fearless, bold visionary, whom led US into this shifting pile of sand.

No, Ash. The blame will lay firmly upon your shoulders, and all the other fearless, bold visionaries running political interference. We will not fail. But should I even have the slightest of doubts, your leftist jihadi bastards better hope for not to meet my eyes.

3/29/2006 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Perpetual war is the choice Islam has made. We can choose to participate and become their common enemy, or we can allow them to destroy their own.

3/29/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger C-Low said...

Rush Limbaugh military strategist?? Bwahahahaha I though it was Roooovvvveeeeee

The Media and the Liberals have had so many positions on how it was all over and lost in Iraq so many end times’ scenarios.

They actually have beaten the Discovery channel and their 5012 different ends of the world specials.

Bottom line is you guys have 0 credibility. The Trolls have never understood the bottom line in this war is that we are the ones who are trying to avoid inevitable future of mayhem.

This WOT and this wild experiment is the Muslim worlds last chance. Basically we will either win and the “moderate Muslims” will check their radicals like all the other major world religions do. Or we will lose pull back then one day the Islamic Radicals will finally get the capability to take out a US city. On that day the only solution will literally change face of the world and end Islam and our innocence forever.

The Liberals have failed to see the writing on the wall and instead only advocated hiding here at home with blinders on ignoring reality and instead waiting for the day when conjecture 3 is implemented.

The real world has nothing to do with peace-love-and-happiness its about human nature.

3/29/2006 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Reviewing today's Iraq the Model post aobut the hapless and hopeless parties discussing government formation and the process's impression on the average Iraqi, it's hard not conclude that the Pentagon's original idea of first using a group of exiles as an initial sovereign government was actually a pretty shrewd idea, and although less ideologically pure probably the better way to go.

3/29/2006 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...


No, it's the Jo-o-o-o-o-o-os

3/29/2006 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

It is gloomy in here. I think I agree with PeterBoston and 2164th, at this point and with DanMyers also.

But, I think we should recognize that the Bush administration had to try this "Nation Building/democracy" thing - even knowing that it might not succeed. If it had succeeded (or succeeds - I am not ready to give up hope yet - I do think that the current violence is mostly internal politics by other means and may get resolved for the better for us) - I do think it would have spread throughout the middle-east to our benefit.

However, at some point I think we need to make a call whether the "signs point to yes" on this experiment and act accordingly.

If we decide that it will not work, I think we should revert to our 1980s stance of pitting Shiite Iran against its Sunni neighbors. In that event, we should work out long term basing rights in the Kurdish region in Iraq and support the creation of an independent Kurdish state under our protection. Then, we will need to reestablish our deterrent credibility by taking down one or more middle-eastern governments (primarily with airstrikes and with no overt effort to rebuild the nation). This action would need to be taken with significant world objection - to ensure that the message is sent that we will not be stopped by UN machinations. Iran is the best target because of its nuclear program. Further, airstrikes will weaken it so that it will be more vulnerable to the surrounding Sunni nations. The point is to make sure that Iran is too busy trying to survive to do much else.

3/29/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

In my opinion, the issue isn't Islam or which variety is ascendant, so much as the underlying tribal bullsh*t political barbarism and outright ignorance of the Arabs and their immediate neighbors. Moqtada al-Sadr could be a Wahhabi and play the same role, imposing virtually the exact same problems. Political correctness is even more deleterious in this regard than with respect to Islam, I think.

3/29/2006 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

You are exactly right, dan

We could have installed Mr Chalabi, Mr Allawi & Mr Talabani in an Iraqi Triumvirate.

3/29/2006 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...


We're fighting birth rates as much as anything. It's probably no accident that the British Empire began during the generation that England had the highest birth rate in Europe. When any society has a surplus of young men it seems that they end up as soldiers of one kind or another. Heck, the 60s was the fruit of the baby boom following WWII.

Mat had it right some time ago. We only have to wrestle with the angel until the sun comes up.

3/29/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


From up close experience, I can tell you, without reservation, that the US has the most fit, best trained, and best equipped troops in its history. I define troops as those ranks from E1 – possibly O5. When permitted, a modern platoon can easily bring to bear the fire power of your father’s Vietnam era reinforced rifle company, with savage accuracy. That is the plus side. However, and this is just a personal opinion, the military’s upper echelon is about as bad as it has ever been.

Proofs of leadership failure are myriad. Last year, for instance, the USAF demoted and retired its top JAG, a major general, for, among other things, carrying on at least ten extramarital affairs over the course of a decade – some with frightened enlisted subordinates, while on duty. Additionally, he destroyed government property, suborned perjury, and tampered with evidence when confronted. Further, a USAF brigadier was canned after demotion just last month; again, he could not keep his zipper up while on duty and was something of an on-the-job foot fetishist. Oh, his bad conduct took place within the Pentagon, where he headed the office charged with selecting for promotion colonels and general officers, as well as the most senior NCOs. At this writing, the Air Force is funding the development of at least two new fighter/bombers(?). The platinum edition is the F/22 Raptor. With exuberance the general staff proudly boasts that this bad boy will be brought on stream for a mere $183 million per copy; a figure strikingly at odds with the GAO and IG figure $380+ million per plane. Oh, well, that is probably good enough for government work. I could go on ad infinitum, ad nauseam, were time to permit. To stay current, one need only peruse the Army, Navy, or Air Force Times.

While again just one man’s opinion, although informed by those on the line, the Army could probably use at least two new (as opposed to artificially recombined) infantry divisions. There is certainly something positive to be said for the Army’s proposal to reorganize its brigades into small, more numerous formations. But, care must be taken that this does not reach the absurd; theoretically in an “Army of One”, 360,000 brigades are possible. Given that the Corps has been forced by events in Iraq to take on an Army role, it may well face the same challenge of force fatigue. Although little heralded, the Air Force and Navy have done extraordinarily herculean service and are stretched thin. Indeed, the Air Force now has a “two hat” policy; which is to say, everyone has two primary functions – this while the service is planning a 40,000+ downsize.

To this point, I think you and I may find room for agreement. Now, comes the dropping of the other shoe.

I am unconvinced that 200,000 additional troops are needed to bolster current levels for the reason – Iran – that you see as necessary. All sorts of reasons for disagreement come to mind, but I would ask you to consider two. First, if the US strikes Iran, Iranian air assets will be almost instantly vaporized, forcing Iran to take the field much as did Saddam’s forces. The Iranians will be annihilated. Lastly, to make a conventional punitive foray into Iraq against American bases would require the concentration of Iranian forces. We will not be blind to this activity. If allowed to concentrate, once committed to battle, Iran’s antiquated and probably poorly lead armored and infantry formations will be destroyed in detail.

Without question, all manner of “stuff” can happen between here and there. However, just as our options are finite, so are those of the Iranians as to conventional warfare. Consequently, should the Iranians choose to fight, ceteris parabus, the forces available in the region, along with air and naval reinforcement, would suffice. As a caveat, my opinion is based on a more or less conventional confrontation with Iran; an unconventional or two+ front war would, obviously reduce my opinion to shambles.

3/29/2006 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Wretchard, a few questions contained in one large one. You write:
"However, the notification by President Bush that he will not support Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari means that the US has decided to take sides in a situation where, formally at least, it should remain absolutely neutral."

What "side" is Bush choosing here? That of Ayad Allawi, the secular neo-Baathist with 8% of the vote? Or the Sunni side with its lovely array of insurgent affiliated politicians? Or maybe the corrupt Kurdish side, which has a little ethnic cleansing of its own going on in Kirkuk? Jaafari is the candidate of the Shiite bloc that received a plurality of the national vote. Is this, the most democratically legitimate "side" in all of Iraq, really the one to jettison? So many sides, so few options.

3/29/2006 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I think your assessment of a straight up conventional War with Iran is correct.
But the Iranian response will be asymetrical.

They have allied with Mr Castro and Mr Chavez. How many MS-13 or other mercenary types were amongst the 500,000 marchers, yesterday in LA.

Across Latin America oil infrastructure is vulnerable.
In Nigeria as well.

The Francofada was the beta test of Eurofada version 2.0

The Iranian response will be off the prescribed field and playbook.

Even Mr Chirac can see it coming, he's had his nuke arsenal reconfigured, because of the Eurofada threat.

3/29/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

pb & allen:

Seems like we should be working on covert activities in Islamic states as a means to foment insurrection/regime change. Certainly there are plenty of indigs that would welcome our help.

The conventional Army should only have the secondary role of securing bases and posing threat/backup to our interests there.

Could this be what we are morphing into?

I remember before 3/03 I had a conversation with an old USAF vet about how the WOT would be waged.
Both of us agreed that it would be largely covert & were both surprised when we invaded overtly. This was probably symptomatic of the lack of intel on the ground in the larger ME at the time.

Now we have a foothold. Seems like we should be developing the tools to carry out an effective, disruptive covert campaign against enemies there.

3/29/2006 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger yahoo said...

you guys f*cked up.. well done, di*kheads

3/29/2006 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

C-Low said...

"The Liberals have failed to see the writing on the wall and instead only advocated hiding here at home with blinders on ignoring reality and instead waiting for the day when conjecture 3 is implemented. The real world has nothing to do with peace-love-and-happiness its about human nature."

We can not allow failure to be an option in Iraq. Conjecture #3 means that several hundred million people get turned into incandescent gas or die slow from radiation poisoning. Conjecture #3 also means the world economy implodes and our own democratic government gets replaced with an authoritarian system. History is full of examples of civilizations walking off cliffs with their eyes wide shut. This is something the moonbats would do but supposably we're smarter than this.

3/29/2006 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger yahoo said...

spin spin spin some more..

hey hernandez, remember when Djerejian applied the definitive smackdown on ur bullcrap? I recommend all u easily-led sheep go n read those posts.

oh, and yes, lick ur wounds, c*cksuckers!!

3/29/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

On the level of the Machiavellian Prince, I wonder whether a nice Jafaari assassination wouldn't push things in the right direction.

Nah, save it for Sadr. I wonder what the report is on how the Mehdi Monkeyparty operates. News of a casual assassination-by-mortat attempt on Sadr came yesterday or the day before. Seriously, what possibly could be the reason for keeping him alive? If he dies, won't his party and militia most likely join with or by co=opted by another Shia party - say, SCIRI or DAWA? And wouldn't that be something Like a push toward consolidating a functional government? Seems like the number of players - AS USUAL IN PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION GOVERNMENTS, DAMNIT - is the major structural problem here. We have to reduce Iran's players, however obvious it may be that they've probably got redundancy 10 deep in each party. In the spirit of the "we should at some point make a call on whether things are going one way or another generally," we should decide whether it isn't time to instead "bring pressure to bear" on the government formation process, we should decide that it's time to bring a little More than pressure to bear. As the only evidently trustworhty player in the country, explicitly backing a large majority of parties with the US military strikes me as a great, if escalating, strategy to reassert our role there, which seems pretty moribund, and inexplicably so, from this vantage.

3/29/2006 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

yahoo, you're a political and strategic moron. whatever failure - and you're once again celebrating too soon - is the result of insufficient political backing. as usual, if we f*cked up, you were the "we."

3/29/2006 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


It is always invigorating to have someone of your obvious intelligence enter the fray. Cogent, germaine, and well reasoned debate is so refreshing. By the way, your prescription may be ready.

3/29/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger yahoo said...

awww danny boy.. smells like sour defeat, doesn't it? I suggest you start getting used to it.. it'll be on you for a while yet.

also next time keep ur head out of things u hav no idea abt, idiot.

3/29/2006 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger yahoo said...

aww, smart put-downs still, allen? if only you'd used your thimble-sized brain when the Bushie led you lot of sheep into this catastrophe.

where was the smarts then? parked out of sight? baa-baa.

3/29/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yahoo was here before. He's just afraid to show his knickers.

3/29/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


re: c*cksuckers!!

Doubtless spoken by one having vast personal experience.

3/29/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...


3/29/2006 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


re: thimble-sized brain

The most minuscule amount of something is infinitely greater than the largest amount of nothing.

3/29/2006 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger yahoo said...

allen, the correct spelling is "germane."

if you ARE going to use big words, especially in insults, I strongly recommend you use a dictionary, son.

3/29/2006 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The first Iraq war cost only $60 billion. Much more munition and many more bomb sorties were used in that war. Why is this war costing so much? Maybe it's time to look at a more cost saving approach?

3/29/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

No matter how tough things get, they could always be worse--the far left could be winning elections, like back in the good ole 70s (when this war started).

Ask a Frenchman.

3/29/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger yahoo said...

come on wretch tell us something about the three conjectures.. keep those fires burning, man!!! don't let the sun go down on me...

let's turn the middle east into glass man!!!!! WOOHOOO!

oh we will be so regretful *sniffle* but it was necessary. we had to destroy the village to save it.


3/29/2006 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Check your Canadian dictionary. Knickers is British for a woman's or girl's underpants. It also suggestive of nick name or alias. Yahoo is blocking his id.

3/29/2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Do not tell me, you're coming around to the "whas up?!" phase at last.

Have buddy send you a copy of Carlos Castaneda's book " The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge ..."

Perception mat,
... "but also that the ways of knowledge and power are difficult and dangerous." ...

3/29/2006 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Yahoo said:

"awww danny boy.. smells like sour defeat, doesn't it? I suggest you start getting used to it.. it'll be on you for a while yet.

also next time keep ur head out of things u hav no idea abt, idiot"

No one is saying we are facing defeat here. But thanks for making it clear that you place your interest in establishing that someone here might be wrong over the interest in our country succeeding? It is always in apparent in comments by leftists that their primary purpose is to see the United States destroyed - but it is rare that one is enougt of a Yahoo to openly admit it.

Rot in hell for your traitorous goals.

As to the U.S. losing - we never really lose - sometime we just win less. If you think the North Vienamese won anything but misery - you are a fool.

3/29/2006 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I guess that second definition is more then german, to this discussion.

Save time and money, as well, mat.
Hate to wait 19 years.

3/29/2006 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Carlos also likes to talk about finding "places of power". I guess the sands of Iraq ain't the place for US but if the Iranian dustup should come to pass, allen, you didn't mention the assests required to secure the Staits, or can we simply just allow them to be closed?

3/29/2006 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

There's no need to fight. Imagine soup. Breathe in violence, breathe out new children for Beslan.

3/29/2006 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...


re: "germane."

Thanks for the correction.

Do you really find it a "big" word? It would not have been for Jonathon Swift.

Oh, if I were your son, would that make me a centipede, a millipede, or just a simple earthworm? Oh, if I were your son, would that make me a centipede, a millipede, or just a simple earthworm? It is so important to keep one’s vermiform ancestry straight.

3/29/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Terrorists want their story told, too.

3/29/2006 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

Not to be simplistic, but securing the Straits wouldn't be too much of a Naval stretch. Surface targets are easy. Submerged, well maybe the few diesel boats that Iran may have can cause a problem while on batteries, snorkling is like dropping your pants these days

3/29/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

No soup for you! Or so says the Soup Nazi.

3/29/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger yahoo said...


let's try this one more time, shall we?

"germane" IS a big word for a semi-literate fool such as yourself.

it would not have been a big word for Jonathan Swift (whose name, by the way, you have managed to misspell. so what else is new?)

free tip: if you are going to invoke the names of past greats in debate, at least know how to spell their names.

I recommend you get off the blog and go back to your elementary school textbooks. begone, fool!

3/29/2006 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

If I'm an Iranian submariner, I'm looking to transfer to another specialty--anything, anywhere.

3/29/2006 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

danmyers, aren't the shores mountainous, the Straits narrow (2 miles at their neck) and mines simple to lay? Insurance companies insuring tankers carrying 25% of the world's oil most likely balk at covering the risk. Naval assets and some sort of shore presence would need be deployed for an indefinite period of time would they not?

3/29/2006 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Just keep repeating, buddy.
"It can't happen here"

Check out the crowds, yesterday in LA.
Think an enterprising agent could find 5, 50 or 500 hired guns?

The ICE say they have a data base of over 5,000 MS-13 members, how many are others are there, off the books?

The French have their suburban problem, just as we have ours.

Murder for hire.
The idea is nothing new.
Just the scale of reprisal.

Remember those two bank robbers in LA?
Multiply that by ten or twenty, imagine Belsan, here.

Columbine really WAS childs play.

3/29/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Mr. Myke,

I am not "gloomy". Gloomy is an emotion. The US has been winning big in Iraq in certain respects. There are other respects where a lot remains to be achieved. Recognizing problems is not gloom.

3/29/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


LOL. With a maximum depth of 360 feet, they may make it to the surface with one breath.

3/29/2006 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...


Didn't I say - not to be simplistic?


The answer to your questions are yes, yes and yes to the first three.

And also, I agree with your statement that the risk arb people will have need for medication.

Naval presence was assumed, Shore presence? Why?

3/29/2006 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/29/2006 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

"Naval presence was assumed, Shore presence? Why? "

Wouldn't small boats be able to deploy IED like mines quite easily? Couldn't they also launch, from shore, mortar, rpg, and other fire at passing tankers?

3/29/2006 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

not for very long.

3/29/2006 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ash, the problem the Iranian Navy would have, is whether to attack and lost all their boats almost instantly to air attack, or to not attack, and perhaps thereby to salvage a couple of rowboats for rescue purposes. You don't f**k with Mother Nature.

3/29/2006 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan 9:40 "If no such nation as Iraq exists, then no such nations as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, or the Arabian peninsular states exist either."

Quite so.

The fiction that the brigands in charge of those territories form nations like Germany and France is at the root of much trouble.

3/29/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

"Wouldn't small boats be able to deploy IED like mines quite easily? Couldn't they also launch, from shore, mortar, rpg, and other fire at passing tankers?"

Easily, now that is the question. Depends on support, both air and sea. We have some of the best.

The issue -as you are soon to be stating- is the sunk freighter in the channel. War is hell, cleanup is a b**ch. Demolition would be messy but, there are ways to rapidly clear channels if you aren't too concerned about the environmental disturbance.....

3/29/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Those are the guys who beat the Empire of Japan, on the high seas and off fortified coastlines.

3/29/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys need to take a nap. Remember, we have two (2) interests in Iraq.

(1) No Nukes for Terrorists

(2) Free-flowing oil

That's all

3/29/2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

The USN sat off Okinawa, in support of the invasion, without budging until the island was secured, at a cost to the USN--due to Kamikazes--of some 33 fleet ships and 5,000 KIA sailors. And the Navy is big on tradition, so that could've been not 1945 but yesterday.

3/29/2006 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...


That nap advice - OK. Thanks for looking out for us. :-)

3/29/2006 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

danmyers, dr, buddy, it seems the insurgent folks in Iraq have been capable of planting IED's pretty well at will against the best military in the world. I fail to see how a similar situation would not occur around the straits with the Iranians. They don't need a navy with subs to deploy mines or launch explody things at passsing tankers. This is an 'irritant' that could go on for a long time unless we secured the straits and the shores which would require a sizable force in theater for a lengthy time. I'm now military expert (duh) but I've yet to see something which suggests the scenario would be radically different then this.

3/29/2006 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


re: Hormuz

Frankly, I have not thought it through.

Extemporaneously, it would seem that killing the Iranian navy would be a first step.

Do consider that American stocks of crude oil are now at twenty year highs. This does not, of course, include the strategic reserve. It is not hard to imagine that, in a pinch, the US could muddle through for a year. Moreover, most of the US petroleum imports or not of ME origin.

Do consider that the inventory of Chinese crude stocks is probably in the thirty day range. Approximately 70% of Chinese oil imports pass through the Straight. The closing of Hormuz would hurt the Chinese almost immediately.

Therefore, would the Iran government risk alienating a powerful ally by blocking the waterway?

3/29/2006 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Yahoo is blocking his id."

Pun intended.

Why has he gone quiet all of the sudden? Out of stink bombs already?

3/29/2006 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Rufus, you're dead right, the goals are simple. Like me in my 50s trying beat the kids one-on-one basketball. It can be done, but not without dedication, strategy, and pain.

3/29/2006 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"Similarly the decision to attack Sadr at the same time (stretching forces insanely, forcing units to be rapidly thrown together) was political. The operation was halted and Sadr allowed to become defacto ruler of half of Baghdad for political not military reasons.

At that time you and your readers had no conception that Shiite militias could be as dangerous as the insurgency, of the role of mafias, of the many seething forces, it was all go out and shoot the bad guys and you have declared total success many times since then.

You were dancing with joy a year ago because we could break up the blatant occupations of the insurgents in Sunni cities and villages, not caring that they still came back in the dark to kill and extort, that they smiled and waved at Americans while planning, that they lived in a vision of millinium long history while you and your kind dismiss the possibility of something if it doesn't happen within a week of when predicted.

You rejoiced at the relative pece of the Sunni south despite the warnings by Steve Vincent that they teemed with death squads and were ruled by forces as hostile to us as the Sunni insurgents. It was good news all the time."

Perhaps if you chose to read occasionally before letting loose with your regularly schedule self-righteous screams and shouts, you'd be able to contribute something besides one sided abuse. People have been saying here fore at least half a year that the infiltration of the police and institutions was more dangerous than the Sunni insurgency. I know cause I'm one of them.

Or you can stick with your lovely strawmen. Your choice.

3/29/2006 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh, C'mon Larsen! What size is their shoe size? Whatever it is, just make sure that what they do get to wear is two sizes smaller.

3/29/2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Ash, look at it this way--imagine the simplified military mission if all the infrastructure and innocent people suddenly disappeared from the war zone, leaving nothing on the surface but sand and badmen. That's your naval analogy, once the balloon goes up, nothing on the water but USN and the badmen.

3/29/2006 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

LOL, Mika--i just take advantage of "no referees".

3/29/2006 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh great! You just sit your big fat tushy on the ball. Maybe others want to play!?

3/29/2006 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

buddy wrote:

"That's your naval analogy, once the balloon goes up, nothing on the water but USN and the badmen. "

That's right, and no tankers either, which is the problem.

allen, what would China do? I don't know, maybe cash in a few (boatloads) of our t-bills and bid on the open market for the remaining oil? Maybe they'll further pressure US to knuckle under to Iran who, as you state, is their ally.

3/29/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

"It is not only in Tehran and Damascus that the game of "waiting Bush out" is played with determination. In recent visits to several regional capitals, this writer was struck by the popularity of this new game from Islamabad to Rabat. The general assumption is that Mr. Bush's plan to help democratize the heartland of Islam is fading under an avalanche of partisan attacks inside the U.S. The effect of this assumption can be witnessed everywhere."

From Amir Taheri's column in WSJ today. I think we can officially designate the Yahoos of the debate an Islamist/barbarian fifth column. Way to go Yahoo!

3/29/2006 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...


Don't forget the USN escorted tankers - pre-vetted.

BTW, via a drudge link - Five U.N. Members Agree on Iran Statement . It has started.

3/29/2006 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...

From the link - "But even though the statement is not legally enforceable, the talks have been extremely sensitive because of the statement's larger significance."

- "In Moscow on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov repeated his stance that Moscow would not support the use of force to solve the Iranian nuclear problem.

"As many of our European and Chinese colleagues have stated more than once, any ideas involving the use of force or pressure in resolving the issue are counterproductive and cannot be supported," Lavrov said.

My emphasis.

3/29/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger yahoo said...


Fools like Amir Taheri feed you crap and you gobble it up.

"In recent visits to several regional capitals, this writer was struck by the popularity of this new game from Islamabad to Rabat. The general assumption is that Mr. Bush's plan to help democratize the heartland of Islam is fading under an avalanche of partisan attacks inside the U.S."

Only a deluded fool like Taheri would imagine (and then tell you) that people sit around in teashops around the Islamic world, watching CNN and C-SPAN and Jon Stewart, joyously ululating at the latest attack on Bush by Howard Dean or Jon Stewart.

And you are fools for believing his bullcrap. Amir Taheri knows about as much as the guy who said the US invasion would be greeted with flowers and chocolate.

Try reading this instead, by Raimondo.

It'll give you a better flavour of why people are sick of this whole show. It was always going to end like this. Up is not down, and war is not peace.

3/29/2006 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Just to show up how well the bait & switch works, does anybody--without research--have any idea how the Lavrov talks re Russia/Iran 'uranium-processing' talks are going?

3/29/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

stalled out didn't they?

3/29/2006 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...


The urge to cheat on your "no research" comment is great.... But without cheating, I have absolutely no idea. But I surmise that they are "progressing slowly".


3/29/2006 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger DanMyers said...


You are going to have to come up with better research. 5th column doesn't play here - sorry. Wrong audience.

3/29/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Progressing slowly--like the snail that got mugged by a turtle. He told the cops, "Well, it all happened so fast..."

3/29/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Handsome Hu said...

You speak that truth to power, Yahoo!

You're all the ridiculous outrage of an idealized prank-phone call with none of the arduous build-up. It's virtually a comedic free-lunch, complete with hypertext aggregating.

Can U plz tell me about halliburton, lol!/1 k thx

3/29/2006 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Bon Air said...

Hey Yahoo.....appropriate name

so you think we lost? now what oh briliant one!

Let's use the same stratedgy we did for Somalia. We lost a few men and a Blackhawk helicopter but it didn't really cause any other harm now did it?

Yahoo: moron clamoring for attention

3/29/2006 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I just cannot, for the life of me, understand what it is with lefties and dictators. A shotgun marriage made in hell.

3/29/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Here's some CV on the "deluded fool" who, despite being an Iranian Muslim journalist and author of a large body of scholarly and academically respected work (including a few hardcover books) on the Mideast, still manages--according to Mr. Yahoo--to know "nothing" about the Mideast.

3/29/2006 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...


3/29/2006 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never seen so much panic and finger pointing on Belmont.

3/29/2006 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Railroad Stone said...

If only someone had thought of this before the invasion! Who knew it would be so difficult to ... get... uh... what the hell are we doing there again? I haven't read today's paper, so I don't know what the latest rationale is yet.

3/29/2006 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

What was the one from Monday, then, and the one from Sunday, and Saturday? And can ya recall a few from the week before?

3/29/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger yahoo said...

Patrick Cockburn, from Irbil in Iraq:

"In reality central government authority is now very limited in much of Baghdad, Basra and Mosul, the three largest cities in the country.

There is almost a complete breakdown in law and order. Often criminals wear police uniforms. Three groups of gunmen disguised as police yesterday kidnapped 24 Iraqis working in a currency exchange and two electronic stores. Kidnapping has been rife since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 but the kidnap gangs are operating ever more brazenly, snatching many people at the same time. Earlier this month gunmen dressed as police commandos seized 50 men from a security company.

The objective of the kidnappers is money. Many business and professional people have fled the country. One senior political figure said this week: " A kidnap gang seized my nephew. There was nothing he could do to resist because they boxed in his car with seven cars filled with gunmen. They asked for $200,000 but settled for $20,000."

It is often not clear if criminals are disguised as police or are real policemen engaged in criminal activities. Even a large number of bodyguards may not be sufficient protection. A wealthy banker from Basra and his son were kidnapped in Baghdad by men dressed as police who cordoned off the street where they lived and killed seven of their bodyguards.

Iraqi society is dissolving because of the breakdown of law and order."


Congratulations, America. Now get the f*ck out.

3/29/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger yahoo said...

read and weep, you blinkered sheep.

3/29/2006 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


That sounds like Los Angeles to me. What you want is immigration reform.

3/29/2006 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger yahoo said...

very apt, metusela.

you rape a country n then contrive to joke about it.

both being core american values, no doubt.

and no, i'm not american either.

3/29/2006 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


re: "let's try this one more time, shall we?"

Forgive me for being so long in responding to your latest – surrender to the mundane, don’t you know.

By providing opportunity, you made it possible for me to do two good deeds. Thank you.

Our tête-à-tête had an unpromising start. Buy perseverance, nevertheless, I was able to encourage you to constructively exercise your talent for editing; moreover, and by far most importantly, you were eventually able to produce expletive free correspondence.

By all means, continue on the road of virtue. In time, with conscientious effort, you may yet attain the respect of your fellows.

Oh, yes, lest I forget, English sentences are begun with capitalization. Normally, I am not anal retentive about such things, but your example has given me food for thought.

3/29/2006 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Rape? In what sense?

3/29/2006 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Cause so far this bitch is a mighty expensive ride.

3/29/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I hope it's not anal retentive.
Talk about a quagmire!

3/29/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Yoni and Podhoretz both think Olmert's party is so weak the Pullouts will not be able to continue:
What say you, Mat?

3/29/2006 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Waiting Bush Out
Opinion Journal
According to sources in Tehran and Damascus, Mr. Assad had pondered the option of "doing a Gadhafi" by toning down his regime's anti-American posture. Since last February, however, he has revived Syria's militant rhetoric and dismissed those who advocated a rapprochement with Washington. Iran has rewarded him with a set of cut-price oil, soft loans and grants totaling $1.2 billion. In response Syria has increased its support for terrorists going to fight in Iraq and revived its network of agents in Lebanon, in a bid to frustrate that country's democratic ambitions.

It is not only in Tehran and Damascus that the game of "waiting Bush out" is played with determination. In recent visits to several regional capitals, this writer was struck by the popularity of this new game from Islamabad to Rabat. The general assumption is that Mr. Bush's plan to help democratize the heartland of Islam is fading under an avalanche of partisan attacks inside the U.S. The effect of this assumption can be witnessed everywhere.

In Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has shelved his plan, forged under pressure from Washington, to foster a popular front to fight terrorism by lifting restrictions against the country's major political parties and allowing their exiled leaders to return. There is every indication that next year's elections will be choreographed to prevent the emergence of an effective opposition. In Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, arguably the most pro-American leader in the region, is cautiously shaping his post-Bush strategy by courting Tehran and playing the Pushtun ethnic card against his rivals.

In Turkey, the "moderate" Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is slowly but surely putting the democratization process into reverse gear. With the post-Bush era in mind, Mr. Erdogan has started a purge of the judiciary and a transfer of religious endowments to sections of the private sector controlled by his party's supporters. There are fears that next year's general election would not take place on a level playing field.

Even in Iraq the sentiment that the U.S. will not remain as committed as it has been under Mr. Bush is producing strange results. While Shiite politicians are rushing to Tehran to seek a reinsurance policy, some Sunni leaders are having second thoughts about their decision to join the democratization process. "What happens after Bush?" demands Salih al-Mutlak, a rising star of Iraqi Sunni leaders. The Iraqi Kurds have clearly decided to slow down all measures that would bind them closer to the Iraqi state. Again, they claim that they have to "take precautions in case the Americans run away."

There are more signs that the initial excitement created by Mr. Bush's democratization project may be on the wane. Saudi Arabia has put its national dialogue program on hold and has decided to focus on economic rather than political reform. In Bahrain, too, the political reform machine has been put into rear-gear, while in Qatar all talk of a new democratic constitution to set up a constitutional monarchy has subsided. In Jordan the security services are making a spectacular comeback, putting an end to a brief moment of hopes for reform. As for Egypt, Hosni Mubarak has decided to indefinitely postpone local elections, a clear sign that the Bush-inspired scenario is in trouble. Tunisia and Morocco, too, have joined the game by stopping much-advertised reform projects while Islamist radicals are regrouping and testing the waters at all levels.

But how valid is the assumption that Mr. Bush is an aberration and that his successor will "run away"? It was to find answers that this writer spent several days in the U.S., especially Washington and New York, meeting ordinary Americans and senior leaders, including potential presidential candidates from both parties. While Mr. Bush's approval ratings, now in free fall, and the increasingly bitter American debate on Iraq may lend some credence to the "helicopter" theory, I found no evidence that anyone in the American leadership elite supported a cut-and-run strategy.

The reason was that almost all realized that the 9/11 attacks have changed the way most Americans see the world and their own place in it. Running away from Saigon, the Iranian desert, Beirut, Safwan and Mogadishu was not hard to sell to the average American, because he was sure that the story would end there; the enemies left behind would not pursue their campaign within the U.S. itself. The enemies that America is now facing in the jihadist archipelago, however, are dedicated to the destruction of the U.S. as the world knows it today.

3/29/2006 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Also at Opinion Journal:
A New Piece on Sgt Smith,
Only Medal of Honor Winner

3/29/2006 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger yahoo said...


congratulations on learning how to use spellcheck. no dog is too old to learn a useful trick like that.

your grammar still needs work, however. you missed the all-important hyphen between expletive and free. but you've made progress.

by the way, I am aware of the rules of capitalization. rest assured that I could wipe the floor with you when it comes to English composition. however, this is the internet and I'm taking it easy with the caps. deal with it.

you now have my permission to go back to sucking your own c*ck.

3/29/2006 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've already called this one a loser in the other thread. There'll be new election soon enough. Kadima/Shinui and everyone in it is headed for the rocks. Have me candle lit for Limor Livnat. Love her cute dimples.

3/29/2006 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Damn! That is some fast shootin there Doug.


3/29/2006 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


re: "allen, what would China do?"

Your point is well taken.

China could certainly try to buy spot, from Venezuela, perhaps. Assuming Mr. Chavez’s willingness to help, the amount necessary might dwarf the productive capacity of his country. Also, the sea voyage is long and perilous.

Russia might be an amenable seller. Again, the journey overland via aging infrastructure, through rough, sometimes hostile territory, is also risky. Again, it remains to be seen whether Russia could meet China’s need.

Given the volume of petroleum needed by the Chinese, some consortium such as OPEC would be its only meaningful option. But that is the point, isn’t it? This brings us back to Hormuz and its strategic value to the Chinese.

3/29/2006 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


re: "your own c*ck."

My goodness, we really have a nasty, little oral fixation there, don’t we?

Oh, well. Two steps forward, one step back.

It’s been real.


3/29/2006 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


3/29/2006 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


Something else you might consider with reference to China is the state of its banking system. For quite some time analysts have expressed concern about the vast pool of non-performing loans held by the banks. Some estimates place the number as high as 75% -mostly loans to state sponsored or owned businesses. The potential losses range into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Taking a page from the Enron playbook, “Accounting Standards R Us”, the banks have shifted much of the bad debt into shell companies and accounts, erasing the red ink from the books.

Any economic constriction placed on the Chinese economy by a closing of the Straight would place enormous international brokerage pressure on the Chinese to cleanse the rot prior to the exportation of large flows of petroleum, C.O.D. or net. Were this to happen, China would be obliged to utilize its US cash reserves to collateralize the dubious debt.

3/29/2006 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/29/2006 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Thge question is, which cost will be the higher; is there a price we can't pay?

3/29/2006 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...


The closing of the strait and the ensuing economic chaos could also wreak havoc upon the massive twin deficits of the US. Adding to the ongoing Iraqi costs the burden of another war and being the worlds reserve currency may not be enough to protect American markets from a rapid rise in interest rates. Given Americas key role in the Global economy, and China's, wounding these two giants could be devestating.

In short, any attack on Iran could turn into something more then a little 'in and out' and routing of their armed forces. One should look these possibilities squarely in the face before touting how easy it will be. Remember how easy Iraq was going to be? Army devestated by years of sanction, flowers greeting the liberators, and oil to pay for reconstruction. Iran promises to be a larger challenge in many ways though I don't believe they can fight US toe to toe militarily they have homefield advantage and an attacked population, especially with a large number of religious zealots, is a motivated population.

3/29/2006 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


If anything I have written, beforehand, suggests “in and out” or “easy”, I have erred. To the perfectly clear, I take the position that the US will be in the region, in force, for years (?) to come. Like Gibraltar, Iraq must and will be held at all costs. The potential for loss is simply too great to lackadaisically assume that our “allies” and/or regional proxies are up to the task.

If memory serves, China has a GDP of about 10% that of the US. This would mean that, relatively, China has less to lose. Unfortunately for China, it has not the reserve capacity to deal with significant loss, given the real size of its economy compared to that of the US. Like poker, the player with $100,000 in chips has a marked advantage over the opponent with only $10,000 to wager. Succinctly, in the logistics, bigger is better.

Returning to the antagonist, Iran, the country has little refining capacity. Its finished product needs must be met, on the whole, from outside sources. If war comes, it is difficult to imagine that the US would permit the unimpeded flow of finished product into Iran. As to how long Iran could withstand the loss of imports of every sort or how long the government could stand without such necessary inflows, I cannot say. Unless Iran has strategic reserves, heretofore unacknowledged or reported (granted, a real possibility, given the lack of reliable intelligence), days to a few weeks would seem as good a guess as any.

Again, returning to China, whose role and influence may be dispositive, she has everything to lose and little to gain from a closure of the Straight. If anything can be said of the government there, conservatism is the watchword. Essentially, I am disinclined to accept the proposition that China would acquiesce to the closing of Hormuz by the Iranians. The risk of loss to China’s strategy for the Pacific Rim is simply too great. That China signed onto today’s Security Council resolution, rather than exercising a veto or abstaining, may be indicative.

3/29/2006 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

buddy larsen,

re: "The question is"

The US must wager all. We either confront Iran, now, more or less conventionally, or we and the Israelis must choose later to surrender or go nuclear. The realities are stark, given Iran’s very public statements of intent. This will be an ordeal not faced by the US since WW II, but there you have it.

3/29/2006 09:39:00 PM  

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