Monday, January 01, 2007

US Strategy in Iraq for 2007?

A informed reader believes the eventual shape of the President's future plan in Iraq is taking shape. Pointing to informed speculation at Small Wars Journal, he thinks it is likely that there will be a "shift in mission" in Iraq, emphasizing a security solution over a political one: changing "our focus from training Iraqi soldiers to securing the Iraqi population and containing the rising violence. Securing the population has never been the primary mission of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, and now it must become the first priority," as the AEI study he quotes puts it.  A lot of readers may say, 'finally the US is going to kick ass', but the informed reader notes the plan will also require a greater effort on the American part, in particular an extension of tours of duty. He also has reservations about whether the non-military capabilities of the United States are up to the task of the followup to combat. In earlier correspondence the reader noted the Belmont Club talking about mobilizing the nation to fight the information and political warfare -- the levee en masse -- or, as the reader put it, to redress the fact that "the rest of the elements of national power are not present on the battlefield in ways that they should be". The military may be able to clear, but what does the rest of the US government to for an encore? The quotable parts of his email are given below and I hope it will spark discussion among other readers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Having a good plan is one thing, but the enemy also gets to vote in its execution. He will kick back. As in the past, the enemy can be expected to emphasize political and propaganda countermeasures against any new US initiative. If the US shifts the mission to emphasize security, expect a plethera of articles to emerge decrying extended tours of duty, revealing more atrocity stories, etc. In general, expect a full-court press in both the political and media areas to blunt any new strategy. Washington DC will be part of Iraq battlefield. For example, incoming House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers is an instance of a powerful elected official who will be naturally skeptical of any new US efforts. Conyers, who has just admitted to using his government staff to work on his campaign, has also sponsored measures to specifically protect Islam, worked to impeach the President and charged that intelligence was manipulated to support invading Iraq. Speaker Pelosi has just reaffirmed that he will remain Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, his admissions of ethical impropriety notwithstanding. It's good odds that officials like Conyers will have their say, at least partially, in what happens next in Iraq. The President is not a dictator; so the execution of any new strategy in Iraq will really be the execution of a negotiated strategy; negotiated among the different branches of government. That's just a fact. And maybe this is all the more reason to find ways to mobilize private intiative to complement the kinetic warfare efforts. Securing the population in Baghdad will neither be entirely a military problem nor happen entirely in Iraq. It will, as always, be a politico-military effort, with local aspects and global aspects.


Blogger Charles said...

I've been writing on my bloga about Matthew Simmons who wrote a book called Twilight in the Desert. "He argues that Saudi Arabia has overstated its ability to pump more oil. And once Saudi production peaks, he says, oil production around the world will enter a period of "irreversible decline.""

That irreversible decline he predicts to happen in the next year or two.

(We're talking about oil that's easy to extract & not oil sands,shale etc for which there are great but difficult to extract reserves.)

Iraq has significant reserves. IMHO it should be one US goal to get Iraqi oil production up and running faster than Saudi, Iranian production declines. That would involve making the pipelines defensible.

1/01/2007 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

"... reservations about whether the non-military capabilities of the United States are up to the task of the followup to combat. ..."

Remember all the empty civiian billets in Baghdad?
The lack of language qualified workers in th Green Zone or for the Embassey. It is a humiliaing failure, cascading failures, really.

In regards the Propaganda or Information War, the Federals have performed less than adequately. Especially considering the $400 Billion USD already spent, down the memory hole. With nary a headline garnered, save Mission Accomplished", back in '04.

The empowerment of a nonsecular Government in Iraq, yet another example of the feckless Federals and their lack of attention to details. Both big and small.

The US Federal Government cannot manage itself, let alone raq.

1/01/2007 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

This wall st journal piece was excerpted and posted to
the comments section in on Matthew Simmons book "Twilight in the Desert"

In 1956, Shell Oil geologist M. King Hubbert discovered a grand illusion in the American oil industry. For tax purposes, he noted, American oil companies regularly delayed the declaration of new oil reserves by years and even decades. The result was a false impression that new oil was being found all the time. In fact, discoveries had peaked in 1936.
Based on this observation, Mr. Hubbert predicted that American oil production would peak in 1969. He was wrong by one year. We briefly produced 10 million barrels a day in 1970 but have never hit that level since. Even with the addition of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, American production has slipped to eight million barrels a day -- which is why we import 600f our oil.
Across the oil industry, the uneasy feeling is growing that world production may be approaching its own "Hubbert's Peak." The last major field yielding more than a million barrels a day was found in Mexico in 1976. New discoveries peaked in 1960, and production outside the Middle East reached its high point in 1997. Meanwhile world demand continues to accelerate by 3% a year. Indonesia, once a major exporter, now imports its oil.
The Saudis claim to have huge oil reserves. Do they really?
Before an uneasy feeling grows into full-blown pessimism, however, one must consider the supposedly vast oil resources lying beneath Saudi Arabia. The Saudis possess 250f the world's proven reserves. They routinely proclaim that, for at least the next 50 years, they could easily double their current output of 10 million barrels a day.
But is this true? Matthew R. Simmons, a Texas investment banker with a Harvard Business School degree and 20 years' experience in oil, has his doubts. In "Twilight in the Desert" (John Wiley & Sons, 422 pages, $24.95), Mr. Simmons argues that the Saudis may be deceiving the world and themselves. If only half of his claims prove to be true, we could be in for some nasty surprises.
First, Mr. Simmons notes, all Saudi claims exist behind a veil of secrecy. In 1982, the Saudi government took complete control of Aramco (the Arabian American Oil Co.) after four decades of co-ownership with a consortium of major oil companies. Since then Aramco has never released field-by-field figures for its oil production. In fact, no OPEC member is very forthcoming. The cartel sets production quotas according to a country's reserves, so each member has reason to exaggerate. Meanwhile, OPEC nations are constantly cheating one another by overproducing, so none wants to publish official statistics.
As a result, the world's most reliable source for OPEC production is a little company called Petrologistics, located over a grocery store in Geneva. Conrad Gerber, the principal, claims to have spies in every OPEC port. For all we know, Mr. Gerber is making up his numbers, but everyone -- including the Paris-based International Energy Agency -- takes him seriously, since OPEC produces nothing better.
The Saudis, for their part, obviously enjoy their role as producer of last resort and feel content to let everyone think that they have things under control. Yet as Mr. Simmons observes: "History has frequently shown that once secrecy envelops the culture of either a company or a country, those most surprised when the truth comes out are often the insiders who created the secrets in the first place."
Mr. Simmons became suspicious of Saudi claims after taking a guided tour of Aramco facilities in 2003. To penetrate the veil, he turned to the electronic library of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, which regularly publishes technical papers by field geologists. After downloading and studying more than 200 reports by Aramco personnel, Mr. Simmons came up with his own portrait of Saudi Arabia's oil resources. It is not a pretty picture.
Almost 900f Saudi production comes from six giant fields, all of them discovered before 1967. The "king" of this grouping -- the 2000-square-mile Ghawar field near the Persian Gulf -- is the largest oil field in the world. But if Saudi geology follows the pattern found elsewhere, it is unlikely that any new fields lie nearby. Indeed, Aramco has prospected extensively outside the Ghawar region but found nothing of significance. In particular, the Arab D stratum -- the source rock of the Ghawar field -- has long since eroded in other parts of the Arabian Peninsula. The six major fields, having all produced at or near capacity for almost 40 years, are showing signs of age. All require extensive water injection to maintain their current flow.
Based on these observations, Mr. Simmons doubts that Aramco can increase its output to anywhere near the level it claims. In fact, he believes that Saudi production may have already peaked. Is he right?
Mr. Simmons's critics say that, by relying on technical papers, he has biased his survey, since geologists like to concentrate on problem wells the way that doctors focus on sick patients. Still, the experience in America and the rest of the world shows that oil fields don't last forever. Prudhoe Bay, which was producing 1.2 million barrels a day five years after being brought on line in 1976, is now down to less than 400,000.
The mystery of Saudi oil capacity bears an eerie resemblance to Saddam Hussein's apparent belief that his scientists had developed weapons of mass destruction. Who are the deceivers and who is the deceived? No one yet knows the answers. But at least Matthew Simmons is asking the questions. (Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2005)

1/01/2007 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

I support getting tough in Iraq, but I don't think the Kagan plan does that. In fact I think it is phony from top to bottom. It only asks for 30,000 more troops, not nearly enough to change the mission, as it claims. It is a lie to say that our mission wasn't protecting the troops, and the plan even says we would be doing the same thing but with more troops. It is yet another attempt to stabilize Baghdad. We have already spent billions in reconstruction money, and stabilized much of Iraq, so it is bizarre to claim that if we stabilize Baghdad for a few months and do some more reconstruction, that Shiites and Sunnis will be friends and live happily ever after.

The plan ignores all the specific problems in Iraq, including the infiltration of the government by Shiite militias, the strong support by the Sunni population of their insurgency, and Iraqi government figures working with Iran to bring in massively more powerful IEDs and sniper rifles.

The biggest problem is that because the Kegan plan is only focused on Baghdad, and it isn't targeted at one or more specific groups, it is a defensive tactic, not going on offense. Most of the insurgents run away before we get to Baghdad, so our troops end up sitting in Baghdad as targets. The only reason why Iraqis aren't defending Baghdad is because they choose not to, and this plan doesn't fix that.

1/01/2007 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre said...

The elephant in the room is Islam's penchant for Imperialism. That our government still puts out nonsense like this where they declare HERE

There is a message here, and that is that Muslims and the Islamic religion are totally compatible with Western values,” says Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England in an interview.

We are a nation/civilization in denial regarding exactly who our enemy has been for these last 25 years.
More thoughts on the War against Islamic Terror

So then before some clever lad declars that I want to kill all the muslims. When we declared that the Nazis were our enemies we did not set out to kill all the Nazis, we just killled enough of them to discourage the less comitted or lucky ones.

1/01/2007 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Peripheral but not central to the discussion on Iraq is how unstable Iran is. There's a long thread at Ron Rosenbaum's column at Pajamas Media dicussion the effects of an Iranian first strike on Israel. Interestingly, Caroline Glick argues that any Israeli second strike should also aim at the destruction of Saudi Arabia's oil fields (the subject of Simmon's Twilight in the Desert) because the Saudis would gain from any mutual destruction of Israel and Iran. Otherwise, it would be in somebody's interest to provoke a war between the "Persians" and the "Jews" and certain Sunni potentates would rejoice at the destruction of both.

However that may be, the discussion of Iraq strategy and all the off-topics on this thread highlight the toxicity of the politics in the Middle East. And it may be that any military shortcomings the US might have had in the Middle East are far exceeded by its diplomatic and intelligence fiascos. My own sense is that we are only just beginning to get a handle, linguistically, culturally, economically and diplomatically, on this whole Middle East and radical Islam question. And it's possible to argue that the most important thing to do now is not to stick our heads in the sand, learn from our mistakes, take our successes to heart and find a way to fix it. Because the problem might not go away.

1/01/2007 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

I think a different plan would make more sense than the Kegan plan. Part of the article is quoted in bold:

In January 2003, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld designated the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) as the lead military organization to prosecute the global war on terror but unfortunately that has not materialized. Although stellar Army commanding Gens. John Abizaid (retiring early next year) and George Casey continue to lead Middle East war operations and troops in Iraq respectively, they are products of the traditional warfare school. Moreover, nearly all of the 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are, too.

It's time to alter U.S. strategy by putting USSOCOM generals and admirals truly in command of the global war. And in Iraq, conventional forces could best serve by providing ground, air and sea support to USSOCOM and Iraqi security forces and sealing Iraq's porous borders with hostile and/or dubious neighbors in Iran, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to prevent foreign jihadists, arms and sophisticated munitions from entering the country.

The action will surely meet resistance throughout DoD's conventional warfare ranks, their industry partners and congressional allies. The U.S. active-duty military force consists of 1.4 million troops, of which only about 50,000 are elite special operators, with only several thousand deployed to Iraq. Many military professionals prefer to have special operators continue in a supporting, not leading, role.


Right now our enemies are counting on being able to run out the clock. They think they can keep inflicting enough casualties that we will leave. The pacifist liberals in our country are trying to defeat us by saying our only two choices are to keep fighting the way we are, or to surrender. We can take the third choice, which we are already doing in other countries, of using Special Ops and the CIA to do the research, negotiations, and small scale fighting, while calling in the regular army for heavier battles.

The way to get tough, which would come out of the Special Forces plan, is to decide who the enemy is in Iraq and then kill them. Not just stabilize Baghdad like the Kegan plan suggests, but if we decide the Sunni insurgency or al-Sadr's group is the problem, then hunt them down all over Iraq. It would require advance planning to identify the targets and seal the areas where they are, and I'm not sure if we have enough troops.

1/01/2007 05:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rosecovered glasses:

That's the same exact comment you posted on my blog a week ago; are you spamming?!?!

1/01/2007 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Db2m said...

Incontrovertibly, if US Spec Ops were to take over command of the GWOT, it would make for more exciting and interesting Discovery/History/Military Channel TV programming in the years to come.

1/01/2007 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

It is possible the whole problem in Iraq can be solved simply by changing rules of engagement for the US. Let our guys shoot to kill and things will settle down. But as Wretchard notes, we have to find a way to win the information wars. The Haditha incident is the perfect example. Iraqis start a firefight in an urban environement and the US guys get prosecuted.

1/01/2007 05:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

db2m said, "Incontrovertibly, if US Spec Ops were to take over command of the GWOT, it would make for more exciting and interesting Discovery/History/Military Channel TV programming in the years to come."

On the contrary, when's the last time you've seen video of special forces doing their stuff? SEALs and Rangers don't take embeds along.

1/01/2007 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Since it's obvious that Sadrists were present and taunting him at Saddam's execution, aren't we going to be witnessing American forces shooting at these same presumably trusted Iraqi guards and soldiers ... the same Iraqi's they've been training in police and military techniques the last three years? In other words, will they be shooting at people they've come to consider to be friends or at least comrades?

I don't really have a problem with that since I think it's apparent that especially members of the Iraqi police forces are and have been actively shooting at American soldiers but I think we need to acknowledge it upfront that that's what's going to happen.

1/01/2007 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Right now our enemies are counting on being able to run out the clock.

I absolutely agree. But the clock they're running out and have been for the last couple of years is Bush's tenure as President. Not just our enemies, but the whole Middle East, France, Russia and China are waiting for Bush to go away. The world thinks without Bush, America will withdraw back behind the moats of our oceans, and we'll go back to a nice 9/10 life like it was when Bubba was President and apologizing to everyone for everything.

They may be right.

1/01/2007 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Laszlo said...

I have been a long follower of this blog.

Besides the Iraqi war, we must fight the war on a second front; the energy front. Finally somebody of importance recognize the imperative of energy independence. There is an excellent article at the Opinion Journal by James Woolsey (former CIA director) about plug-in Hybrids which in the short term is the best solution. Read this opinion piece.

His is the only practical short term solution. Flex-fuel,hydrogen fuel cell all much longer term solutions.

Gentlemen, Start Your Plug-Ins

1/01/2007 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

A closer look at U.S. military statistics in the Iraq war:

- Number who have died since major combat ended April 30, 2003: 2,861

- Months with the most deaths: November 2004: 137; April 2004: 135; December 2006: 111

- Percentages by service branch: Army: 68 percent; Marines: 29 percent; Navy: 2 percent; Air Force: 1 percent

More Stats

1/01/2007 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

> NO POLITICAL WILL on the part of the body politic

I don't think there is any problem with the will of the people. For years, pro-military politicians, especially President Bush haven't made a case for fighting this war, while the Left attacked it. The war has not gone as expected, like when 3 1/2 years ago Rumsfeld said they were cleaning up the last "dead enders".

So it is not their will, but their intellect. People haven't given up on the war, but they have questions. They are waiting, waiting, waiting for President Bush to say what we are fighting for and how we will win. They are waiting to hear something besides "9/11. War on terror."

1/01/2007 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

This is not an entirely new observation, but this is perhaps the moment when it really bites us decisively: it is ironic that it is a Republican administration which is now leading the US towards providing more and more of the elements of a welfare state in Iraq.

If we now become the providers of the Iraqis' local as well as their strategic security by delivering the backbone of their policing, and take on the role of building their physical as well as their political infrastructure for them, what will we have created but a massive nation of welfare dependents? And why would we expect the outcome to be self-reliance and self-improvement any more than it was when we tried the same approach at domestically? In short, this taking on of more and more responsibility ourselves is a blind alley likely to waste a whole generation's worth of resources, for no payoff at all.

Yes, btw, this does reflect a view that it is harder to adapt Arabs to self-reliance and non-aggression than were the Germans or the Japanese after WWII.

From our own perspective, if we can't develop a policy which allows us to do something other than either (a) nothing for people like this and (b) doing absolutely everything for them, we just won't in general be able to intervene anywhere.

The core conceit we need to get past is the absurd notion, worthy of a Don Quixote or a King Canute, that 'ethnic cleansing' should be resisted rather than facilitated. The departure of the Sunnis can not now be prevented, just delayed. It will be far cheaper for us if we pay to make this an orderly process than if we instead pay to prop up a structure which just postpones it.

Great though our vanity is on this point, we will one day have to acknowledge that we never found a better answer than 'ethnic cleansing' ourselves in the Balkans, or in for example Poland at the end of WWII, in any other conflict we have taken a hand in as a nation all the way back to (and including) our own wars against the Indians.

1/01/2007 07:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

US Strategy in Iraq for 2007? How about securing schools from Saudi jihadist propaganda?

1/01/2007 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/01/2007 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/01/2007 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Two quotes about Iraq deaths from today's papers (in bold):

Three thousand deaths are tiny compared with casualties in other protracted wars America has fought in the last century. There were 58,000 Americans killed in the Vietnam War, 36,000 in the Korean conflict, 405,000 in World War II and 116,000 in World War I, according to Defense Department figures...

U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway said in an interview that, given the significance of Iraq and Afghanistan to U.S. national security, the death toll in those two countries has not been excessive. On average, slightly more than two U.S. military personnel die in Iraq every day compared to 300 or more a day during World War II, he said.

I think President Bush should go on the offensive about the 3,000 killed figure. First, he should say that the reason why that number is so low compared to other wars is because our troops are fighting so well. Then we'll see if the Democrats are willing to challenge that and say that our troops are fighting poorly.

He should also say that the Nazis still would be slaughtering people in death camps if we quit every war after 3,000 troops are killed. That would point out that most of those quoting the casualty statistics are pacifists who are against all wars but don't have the guts to admit it.

The Left's whole case against the war is built on a pack of lies. If Bush goes on the attack, we could have a 2/3 Republican majority in both House of Congress next election.

1/01/2007 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...


This is an interesting article with inside information about the Bush administration and Iraq in 2006.

1/01/2007 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Db2m said...


Plug-in hybrids, fine, just hope they don't throw out the 300 horsepower babies with the Baath water.



"Incontrovertibly" the Entebbe Raid accounts are more interesting than the 3 yards up the middle, with a reporter and a cloud of dust -accounts.

Granted it takes longer for the stealthy stories to come out, but that's precisely why I stipulated "programming in the years to come."


Wu Wei,

As for 2/3 Repub majorities resulting from unleashing truly kinetic warfare, the old saw "when pigs fly" might be updated to "when PBS covers NASCAR racing."

1/01/2007 11:40:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"If we now become the providers of the Iraqis' local as well as their strategic security by delivering the backbone of their policing, and take on the role of building their physical as well as their political infrastructure for them, what will we have created but a massive nation of welfare dependents? And why would we expect the outcome to be self-reliance and self-improvement any more than it was when we tried the same approach at domestically? In short, this taking on of more and more responsibility ourselves is a blind alley likely to waste a whole generation's worth of resources, for no payoff at all."

Bears repeating...

Beating insurgencies requires skill, but it also requires a modicum of pre-requisites. In many cases, the chances of beating an insurgency are reflective of the intractability of the underlying political conflict. If you're given an impossible political problem (i.e. Israelis vs. Palestinians), you can use whatever methods you want, but in the absence of a reachable political middle ground, it is insolveable. The Moros are still fighting the same war against the Phillipine state that they fought against us in the early 20th centruy. It has just taken different characters, going from nationalist, to marxist, to Islamist.

The exception is perhaps when you have a sheer monopoly in the use of force, but the massive expansions of third-world populations and availability of arms in the third world has reduced our ability to both stifle enemies of weapons and reach textbook force-space ratios. We'd need an army two or three times the size of the one we have now to put together a surge of the required level for that route. A few tens of thousands is a short term political sop, not a fundamental change.

This is the same place we were in 1964 when the military decided that the South Vietnamese were unreformable, and that therefore we needed to bring in the supposed first team to do the jobs ourselves. I think it would be just as big a mistake to do so now as it was then. If we can't train reliable Iraqis to undertake their own defense (in a manner parallel to our own interests) then that is a political problem that is not going to be solved by breaking the United States Army again.

1/02/2007 12:44:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Altogether, I fear we've got too many collective issues as a nation to thread this needle - forget about the wider war against Islamic imperialism.

1/02/2007 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/02/2007 01:34:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

"The exception is perhaps when you have a sheer monopoly in the use of force, but the massive expansions of third-world populations and availability of arms in the third world has reduced our ability to both stifle enemies of weapons and reach textbook force-space ratios. We'd need an army two or three times the size of the one we have now to put together a surge of the required level for that route. A few tens of thousands is a short term political sop, not a fundamental change."

...And it is not only the availability of those troops, it is also the ability to use them properly, taking into account the domestic and internaitonal political context. There's plenty of reasons why having 300,000 troops in 2003 would have been useful, but one of the oft-floated red-herrings is that we would have been able to prevent the lootings and riots after the regime failed.

BZZZZT, the looting didn't occur only in places where there were no U.S. troops, it also occurred in their presence. Stopping the looting required shooting down mostly unarmed Iraqis, in the face of an irrational Arab world (and in the context of the "War on Terror"), an unserious domestic press (the "effette impudent snobs," who have no idea what the world is like outside their dinner parties), and a fundamentally opportunitistic political opposition that doesn't care the least about ending American domestic politics at the "border's edge."

If you transported 300,000 troops into Iraq today it would still be an open quesiton whether President Bush would have the political ability to undertake the necessary actions needed to deter the Iranians (who think we're a joke today), defeat Al Sadr and the Shi'ite fundamentalists, and quash the Sunni insurgency, after all the that has occurred to date.

1/02/2007 01:38:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Here are the latest leaks about the new Iraq plan.

Reuters: Senior Iraqi officials have forecast a limited New Year offensive by U.S.-led forces against Sadr's Mehdi Army. "There will be limited and targeted operations against members of the Mehdi Army," one senior Shi'ite official said.

BBC: US President George W Bush intends to reveal a new Iraq strategy within days, the BBC has learnt.

The speech will reveal a plan to send more US troops to Iraq to focus on ways of bringing greater security, rather than training Iraqi forces...

The BBC was told by a senior administration source that the speech setting out changes in Mr Bush's Iraq policy is likely to come in the middle of next week.

Its central theme will be sacrifice.

The speech, the BBC has been told, involves increasing troop numbers.

The exact mission of the extra troops in Iraq is still under discussion, according to officials, but it is likely to focus on providing security rather than training Iraqi forces.

1/02/2007 03:51:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

It sounds like Bush will rally support for his new plan by attacking al-Sadr's forces on Friday. That will set up his speech in the middle of next week.

Al-Sadr is responding by trying trying to get us thrown out of Iraq, to get the Iraqi government to set a timetable for US withdrawal.

Bold text is from a Reuters article:

Several officials in the Shi'ite political parties that dominate Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's unity government also say they are losing patience with Sadr's supporters and predict more raids like last week's joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in which a senior Sadr aide was killed.

"There will be limited and targeted operations against members of the Mehdi Army," a senior Shi'ite official told Reuters. "The ground is full of surprises but we think around January 5 there will be some operations. I can say no more."

British forces in the southern oil province of Basra have also been conducting major raids against groups they describe as "rogue Mehdi Army," some entrenched in Iraqi police units...

The Americans want a war with the Mehdi Army," said a Western diplomat in Baghdad, who was not American or British.

"They want to get rid of the militia and it seems they will succeed in getting one."...

The head of the Sadrists bloc in the parliament said the group was working with members in the Alliance on a proposal to reschedule the timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops which then will end their boycott of the parliament.


1/02/2007 04:36:00 AM  
Blogger goesh said...

Buck Smith got it right. Change the rules of engagement. Our forces are respected, not feared. Why would any jihadi fear American forces? You can stand in the middle of a bunch of civilians and shoot Americans all day and nothing will happen to you. You can let a sniper use your roof top and not have to worry about your house being blown up. You can stockpile weapons in your home and at worst you might get detained for a few days. You can go all over the place armed wearing civilian clothes and nothing is going to happen to you. Snipe from a mosque and you most likely won't even get any return fire. A bunch of saddam hussein supporters protested after his hanging and they weren't even tear gassed. It won't make one bit of difference if 200,000 more troops were sent to Iraq. The jihadists are winning, beating us with our own stupid politically correct rules. It's easy to kill nice guys who won't fight to win. In another year our morale and equipment will be about shot and we will go home pretending we won. Either fight or get the F*** out.

1/02/2007 04:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wu Wei quoted Reuters quoting a "Shi'ite official", "The ground is full of surprises but we think around January 5 there will be some operations."

So if this was June 1944 would Reuters print, "The ground is full of surprises but we think around the fifth or sixth of the month there will be some operations" ??? Who's side are they on, anyhow?

1/02/2007 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/02/2007 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

I agree that the media shouldn't tell, but since "a senior Shi'ite official" knew about the upcoming raids, then so did al-Sadr. These "limited" sham operations won't do much. The hope is that the US will use the occasion to launch a full scale attack on the Medhi Militia, perhaps after provoking them.

It is looking more and more like all the Shiites want the US out of Iraq. They aren't going to turn on their own, won't turn on Al Sadr.

So it is time for Bush to go for broke. Between the Democrats, the media, and the Shiites, we probably won't be able to keep 140,000 troops in Iraq for very long, and might get thrown out entirely. So Bush needs to take action now. He needs to think of what we can do in 3 or 6 or 9 months that will help the US. If that means degrading al-Sadr's militias ability to fight so that other Iraqi groups tear it up, then do it, regardless of what Maliki says. If that means taking sides with the Shiites to degrade Al Qaeda and the Sunni resistance, then do it. Everyone in Iraq, except maybe the Kurds, is hitting us with IEDs and wants us out, so there is no reason to worry about them turning against us.

And if we are going to leave Iraq, or cut down to a Special Ops war, the best way to do it is with our guns blazing. Kick the crap out of al Sadr and Al Qaeda / Sunnis, then say "Iraq, we gave you democracy and knocked down the worst groups in your country. It's your turn."

1/02/2007 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Still not sure how you break 6K years of culture and history; Surely the majority Shias, who had been repressed and murdered for 40 years by the minority Sunni Baathists, were big enough to overlook that short period of history. After all, everybody was killing everybody for the previous 5600 years, what's a mere 40 years?

Not sure how you break the culture of black markets, stealing, corruption and militias. They all belonged to militias. Mahdi, Muhammed, Badr, Peshmerga, everyone belongs. If they don't belong they die. Security in neighborhoods has been accomplished my militias and local tribes chieftains for years. How does that change after 6 months of take down..

The Saddam hanging this past week-end showing what really happen with Shia’s chanting Sadr Sadr Sadr as Saddam dropped through the gallows illustrates what we have really accomplished.Turn it all over to Iran.

Not sure how you stop the Iran influence with Shias now in control.

I keep hearing parallels with Germany but most forget Germany lost 1100 KIA on average per day for 5 years. No single person of German accent alive today didn't lose a family member. I'm sure Japan was no different. By the very nature of WWII we followed Niccolo Machiavelli principle in reinventing their gov.institutions ("All a hereditary prince need do is carefully maintain the institutions that the people are used to; a new prince has a much more difficult task since he must stabilize his newfound power and build a structure that will endure. This task requires the Prince to be publicly above reproach but privately may require him to do things of an evil nature in order to achieve the greater good")

Not sure how you stop this Sunni and Shia struggle without taking sides. If you take the Shia side by default you side with the Persians and alienate Saudia Arabia (Sunni).

1/02/2007 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

If the title of Bush's speech is really "sacrifice", then he is probably going with the whole Kagan plan. That is not a surge but adding ever increasing numbers of troops to the battle, 30k per year minimum. They call it a "surge" but say it must be "lasting", which means it is really a permanent troop increase. It means keeping troops in Iraq for longer periods, and returning them after short times back home. It also means borrowing equipment from units which aren't deployed, basically using up every reserve we have.

1/02/2007 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

wu wu

For months you have been preaching the Zen Method of War.
The "strongest weapon is the one unfired" mantra. Right out of the "new" book.

Now you advocate for a "guns ablazing" way forward.

You are silly.

1/02/2007 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

More like the Tao than Zen. Fight at the right moment and in the right way.

I still believe a Special Ops war is appropriate for Iraq, but killing the enemy is always the right thing, in any kind of war. My issue with the Iraq War is that we have no defined enemy and it isn't clear what our goal is. If they think it through and decide the Mehdi Army is an enemy and should be killed, I support that. I am skeptical that we could name such an enemy though (except Al Qaeda) because all the Shiite and Sunni groups seem to be equally bad, and they seem to be local threats instead of threats to the US.

I think that once the main Iraqi players come to peace, they will quickly eliminate Al Qaeda in Iraq. Saddam's Baathists won't let Al Qaeda tell them what to do. So I think our self interests would be served by mostly keeping to the sidelines in Iraq while the Iraqis fight each other, but keeping one sect or a foreign invader from taking over by force. While waiting we could hunt Al Qaeda or any group we decided was a threat to us. I don't see any reason why we should try to micro manage Iraq, or to keep the Iraqis from shooting each other.

1/02/2007 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...



1/02/2007 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger patrick neid said...

sadly i find the articles/emails/most comments a bunch of UN speak. academic positions on fighting a war. winning hearts and minds etc. you win wars by killing the bad guys. talking about causes etc is afterwards.
as long as the political/radical islamic leaders of iran, syria, sudan, hamas, hezzbollah and al sadr are alive we have no chance of victory–in fact we are going to lose as we are starting to now. this conflict needs to be waged on all levels. these are the leaders/generals who fund radical islam/terror in iraq and elsewhere for their own fascist agenda. they kill us daily and they mean to kill us in bunches as we go forward.
sooner or later we need to confront this obvious truth. what we lack is the will and fortitude to live with the aftermath and exercise of power that it takes to cruise missile these folks on the same night at the same time. any civil wars etc that may follow are the price that humanity has to pay for another “ism”. the last few cost us over 200 million. thinking that the middle east can transit from the 7th century to the 21st without enormous bloodshed is to rebuke human history. it’s delusional. think of the 100's of millions that died as europe worked itself out through countless revolutions over centuries. it wasn’t but 145 years ago that we sacrificed over 650,000 in our own civil war.
the middle east is about to get theirs. we can help by removing the fascist leaders of the states mentioned.

1/02/2007 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Patrick, let's not forget the imams

1/02/2007 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

"we can help by removing the fascist leaders of the states mentioned."

Now sell the electorate on that.

1/02/2007 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre said...

Gee, maybe G. Washington was right, after all. But then, no sophisticate dare profess a desire to avoid foreign entanglements. That would get him labeled *gasp*
an isolationist!

Not sure if you were paying attention on 9/11 but the enemy seems to have a penchant for finding us when we don't pay enough attention to them. Which also goes a long way to debunking idiocy like what Woolsey is selling...Electric cars...Woolsey has gotten senile.

The idea that if we were to somehow stop sending money to the Saudis that this war would end is a pipe dream, dreamed up by those who still haven't figured out that we are fighting against the same enemy the west has fought against for the last 1400 years.

Sure if we had the brains to NOT give them the oil in the first place...after all they were/are simply incapable of producing anything if left to their devices we might not face the existential threat we face now but we didn't and we do...face that threat. We gave them the oil through some sort of muddle headed white guilt and now they have the money earned on the backs of our brains with which to kill us. Brilliant.

Funnier yet is we are still listening to the geniues who got us into this situation.

We don't need special forces. We need to take threats from leaders of countries seriously and hold their nations to account for their leaders. Want to make a threat to wipe us out...fine lets see who can accomplish that feat sooner. We are facing this crap because of corrupt power hungry historically stupid politicians.

For my sake I am simply waiting for the day when some nuke pops off in NYC. At that moment we will finally get serious. The 5th column here in the states will be dealt with harshly and those politicians who think its cute to take money from Arab mass murderers will be next.

Dealing with insurgents is easy. Kill those who supply them the weapons.

1/02/2007 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger Laszlo said...

Pierre legrand
You write much better than you read.
Woolsey is not selling Electric Cars. The pure electric car is dead!
He is selling Plug-in Electric Hybrids,which will provide the surplus juice that will break the back of the oil cartel. Read that article more carefully.
Electric car alone - failure. Plug-in hybrid - A Silver bullet.
The keywords are "Plug-in". All other solutions are long term and will not help short term. Exotic fuels will take a long time to develop commercially.

1/02/2007 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Bolded text is from an article quoted above about what Bush's plan supposedly is:

... a plan to send more US troops to Iraq to focus on ways of bringing greater security...

Its central theme will be sacrifice...

The problem is that this is the wrong mission. We are not the police force of Iraq.

This is especially bad because of the call for "sacrifice". It sounds like years of ever increasing numbers of US troops policing Iraq while the Sunnis and Shiites sit on the sidelines bombing us with IEDs.

If Bush really tries this I hope the Congress stops him.

1/02/2007 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Contrary to the conspiracy theories of various moon-beam environmentalists, GM did not kill the electric car industry. After GM sunk something like a billion dollars into the EV-1 and electric station infrastructure, the market imploded on cost and performance and, in the end, the consumer just didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Determined not to lead market forces again GM decided to apply hybrid technology to their most viable product lines, SUV’s and light trucks. These vehicles are what most of the buying public seek and eeking out another 10-20mpg out of a vehicle that already gets 35mpg is no major feat. Getting 35mpg out of a truck that is able to tow a boat over the mountains is what they wanted to offer the public and I think they have it right. Golf carts or SUV’s? Should be interesting to see what the consumer chooses in the long run.

Incidentally, I totally agree that the all-electric car is dead. While working for the power controls division of GM in 2000, we were plagued by rolling black outs and plant closures here in California. I couldn’t help but imagine what the Green’s and the goobers in state government would have done if half the state was charging their cars up every night. The Green’s have ruined the earth by killing nuclear power. It isn’t perfect but neither is a nuclear armed Iran. These are the same @ssholes that told me in the early eighties that the total demand for electricity was inevitably going down. Sheesh.

1/02/2007 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/02/2007 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

The polarization that has characterized American politics since the presidency of Ronald Reagan has extended its reach to foreign affairs. Never have the differences between the two parties on issues of war and peace been so distinct.

The Past

Few political clichés bear as little resemblance to reality as "partisanship stops at the water's edge." Consulting recent major works of popular diplomatic history--Walter A. McDougall's Promised Land, Crusader State (1997); Walter Russell Mead's Special Providence (2002); Robert Kagan's Dangerous Nation (2006)--one finds division and conflict over the course of foreign policy since the founding of the American republic.

The Present

Earlier this year, Gary C. Jacobson of the University of California at San Diego published A Divider, Not a Uniter. The book deserved more attention than it received.

The Future

The underlying causes of foreign policy polarization are difficult to unravel. Both Gary Jacobson and Walter Russell Mead point to the emergence within the Republican party of a distinctive, ideological foreign policy with ties to religious conservatism...

Peace Party vs. Power Party

1/02/2007 06:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sam said, "Peace Party vs. Power Party"

And what party was led by Ronald Reagan? The Peace-through-power Party, marked by a huge military build-up and only short, sharp shocks overseas.

1/02/2007 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Wretchard, your entire post is cognizant on one part of one paragraph:

"Having a good plan is one thing, but the enemy also gets to vote in its execution. He will kick back. As in the past, the enemy can be expected to emphasize political and propaganda countermeasures against any new US initiative. If the US shifts the mission to emphasize security, expect a plethora of articles to emerge decrying extended tours of duty, revealing more atrocity stories, etc. In general, expect a full-court press in both the political and media areas to blunt any new strategy. Washington DC will be part of Iraq battlefield.

I will take it further - and this surprises me more than one might think.

Washington DC is THE battlefield in the War On Terror. For America right now ALL other battlespace is secondary. We actually have to win here. The near enemy are those who do not understand there is – and was – a war on, and those who sought power by muddying the waters on the conflict. The last are not in a position to lead – but lead they must.

1/02/2007 07:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Iraqi conflict is now almost exclusively tied to Iranian imperial ambitions. Yet, I see very little done to rebuff the Iranians on this front, not even on the propaganda side.

1/02/2007 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...


The USMC has grown its true ground forces by around 30,000 actual people personnel in the last four years. The Army has grown by 60,000 actual people. We are not talking empty billets or computer geeks. We are talking about folks who walk around a lot and carry a rifle. Some of that growth is Rumsfeld's optimizations, some is better recruiting (yup, its true), and some is higher retention. In total force, we are talking about a Marine Corps (provided to Bush by Clinton) of 162,000 personnel growing to 185,000. A Clinton era Army of 385,000 growing to over 500,000.

In other words, we have about 90,000 more ground pounders than we had at 9/11. That is plenty of 'surge' capability. Additionally, we have a significanly smaller footprint in Europe and even South Korea.

Folks may not like a duty station in Iraq or Afghanistan - but most really don't like Okinawa or Diego Garcia either. A beer drinking station in Munich is a wonderful vacation - but was it a grand vaction after WWII.

1/02/2007 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre said...

You write much better than you read.
Woolsey is not selling Electric Cars. The pure electric car is dead!
He is selling Plug-in Electric Hybrids,which will provide the surplus juice that will break the back of the oil cartel. Read that article more carefully.
Electric car alone - failure. Plug-in hybrid - A Silver bullet.

hehe...Perhaps I write better than I read but your example does not prove the point. My point about Woolsey stands since he is indeed talking about using electric cars or hybrids to disarm the "radicals".

And given the array of Wahhabis, terrorists and Ahmadinejad-like fanatics who sit atop the Persian Gulf's two-thirds of the world's conventional oil, such reduction will not be a disservice to the nation.

In the middle of a war against a group of fanatics bent on our death to imagine that anything other than destroying them we can defang them is to exhibit senility. It is a shame since he has been one of my favorite people to read.

The genie is out of the bottle...we got them out of their tents into Lear Jets by out stupid white guilt and trying to starve them back into their tents is foolish and senile.

The sooner we realize that we must rise up and crush them the sooner this war will be over and the less we will have to kill of the enemy.

1/02/2007 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

Here is President Bush's comments about the war, from today's Wall Street Journal:

Our priorities begin with defeating the terrorists who killed thousands of innocent Americans on September 11, 2001--and who are working hard to attack us again. These terrorists are part of a broader extremist movement that is now doing everything it can to defeat us in Iraq.

In the days ahead, I will be addressing our nation about a new strategy to help the Iraqi people gain control of the security situation and hasten the day when the Iraqi government gains full control over its affairs. Ultimately, Iraqis must resolve the most pressing issues facing them. We can't do it for them.

But we can help Iraq defeat the extremists inside and outside of Iraq--and we can help provide the necessary breathing space for this young government to meet its responsibilities. If democracy fails and the extremists prevail in Iraq, America's enemies will be stronger, more lethal, and emboldened by our defeat. Leaders in both parties understand the stakes in this struggle. We now have the opportunity to build a bipartisan consensus to fight and win the war.


1/03/2007 12:25:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

We hear have been told many, many times that we must "win" by beating the "enemy" in Iraq, as part of the "war on terror". Yet no one can say who the enemy is in Iraq, or what this war has to do with the war on terror. Neither President Bush nor anyone on this forum has ever said:

Who is our enemy in Iraq?

What is "winning" in Iraq?

What does Iraq have to do with the war on terror?

I have asked those questions many, many times and no one has ever answered. And they never will because they can't.

1/03/2007 01:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(h/t to allen)

Oak Leaf at Polipundit offers some statistics that point towards a less-than-substantiative increase in the number of boots on the ground in Iraq that would correspond with the force necessary to execute Kagan's "scorched earth" offensive.

Even if Bush is clandestinely going along with Kagan's plan, one wonders how sustainable that would be with our military being stretched thin. In this case, pursuing the objectives without having the resources at hand will lead to "sacrifice" all right - that of the kind we've seen since "Mission Accomplished" was articulated: more body bags for nothing, eerily echoing fatalism as we throw more bodies at the militias, death squads and insurgents to shoot at.

A surge is necessary, but to waste it all on Kagan's plan would be detrimental in the long-term. Methinks there's more we could do by providing logistical, border-securing and QRF support, thereby empowering - not superceding - the Iraqi Army and Police.

The enemy is the militia. Bush has still continued to dodge the task of defining in exact, uncompromising terms who this enemy is in Iraq, mainly out of fear of rebuffing Sistani (who wishes to protect the unity of the Shiite bloc) and Maliki (political timidity due to fear of undermining his authority - to which I say: what authority?).

wu wei wrote: The Left's whole case against the war is built on a pack of lies. If Bush goes on the attack, we could have a 2/3 Republican majority in both House of Congress next election.

Political constraints on Bush?

I'm sure we are willing to back Bush to the hilt, though it remains to be seen that scepticism regarding the specifications of the surge will be vindicated or debunked. Sacrifices have already been made - let's be a little more cautionary about future ones.

1/03/2007 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

I agree with much of the "to the hilt" article, and that is what I mean by Bush going on the attack. He should have come out with a scope and plan for the war which excludes fighting Iraqi civil wars and policing their state, and he should have worked with Republicans in Congress.

Instead, he didn't talk to Congress and has come up with a request for more troops in order to provide "security", which means being the police force of Iraq.

The reality is that most of Iraq is at peace, and the violence in Baghdad is caused by militias which could stop it any time they want. It is violence which the government supports, with Maliki, Sadr, etc. supporting the Shiite violence, and the Sunni members of government backing the violence from their insurgency and Al Qaeda.

Iraq doesn't need our help to have peace in Baghdad, they just need to cease fire.

1/03/2007 07:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

America and its allies must recognize that the religion of islam is the cardinal issue when dealing with the region.

America will always (hopefully) be outside the Islamic community. No military power as formulated in this discussion will be able to defeat it. We will never be accepted by the Iraqis or any other Muslim state to be offer anything of value. Any rebuilding effort, commitment of resources (both blood or treasure) will do anything other than make us appear to be weak and gullible.

I would suggest that the only way to defeat the enemy is to harden our resolve and properly defeat the forces of Islam everywhere and in all its manifestations.


1/03/2007 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston2 said...

What "Fred" said many posts ago is absolutely correct:
"Regardless of The Plan, to quote Mark Steyn liberally, if we lack THE WILL, even though we have the power, we will lose. Right now every plan being discussed across a myriad of forums is some variant of trying to eke out a victory within some very hard parameters of NO POLITICAL WILL..."
Folks, we're withdrawing, it's just a question of how rapidly. The Democrats just dominated an election cycle and the one who was most pro-Iraq (Joe Lieberman) was effectively kicked out of the party.
Re-read the post by "Clausewitz100." Other than his 5,600 year formulation (is this dating back to Ishmael?), he is correct about the underlying culture. You can't change the way people see and deal with their problems overnight. Still, Shia and Sunni have lived together (yes, killing each other in small numbers, but largely coexisting) for the 1,000 years since Karbala. The reality is we're gonna withdraw starting very soon, and it won't be half as bad as any of you think. The Iraqis will run their own affairs, they're not Persians (Iranians) and it'll take anyone decades (if ever) to consolidate power and equal the threat that Saddam posed to his neighbors and the U.S. (via development of chemical weapons and delivery systems).

1/03/2007 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I understand your concerns, and personally, I insist that any new plan that has any chance of success requires dealing with the militias in clear, unambiguous and uncompromising terms. al-Sadr has, as you correctly suggested, become the kingmaker of Iraq, and even Sistani - for all his clerical-spiritual authority that he once wielded - has backtracked from the anti-Sadr coalition that was proposed earlier, for fear of breaking up the Shiite bloc.

There should be no delusions about Sistani or Maliki when it comes to dismembering the militias.

There is, in my opinion, simply no way to out-flank the media in all its manifestations, and with all its authors, and all its hardened, pre-disposed audiences.

I'm sad to say that you might just be right. Could the MSM get any more tired with their rants about "grim milestones"? However, I believe that this grants us some sort of PR immunity in that we can't do any worse in the eyes of the public (or at least those who depend on the NYT for news), so a decisive crackdown on the militias would only garner a rather insignificant blip on the media radar - a continuation of the stagnating nature of reportage that is coming out of Iraq since who-knows-when.

And why is "Anbar province" always evoked with such little detail? Are there no personalities, no specific tribes, no specific towns (besides al Qaim), no - anything?

Precisely what I was ruminating about, and Saddam's inglorious execution - what with cries of "Moqtada!" and Youtube videos being disseminated hours after the event took place - could dissolve any form of reconciliation we might have with the Anbar tribes.

1/03/2007 06:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>wu wei

The last thing we want to do is waste the surge on another policing force.

1/03/2007 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

> The only explanation at this point that I need is why Moqtada al-Sadr is allowed, for example, to abscond from the government, and yet survive. Is it Shiite reaction? Is he protected by al-Sistani?

Yes, Sistani saved him in the past and is doing it now.

#1 - Sistani saved al-Sadr during the big show down at the golden dome shrine in 2004. al-Sadr's group was near defeat, mostly just holding the shrine. What Sistani could have done was used his militia to do the sensitive work of clearing the Mehdi Army out of the shrine, which would have allowed us to kill al-Sadr and destroy his army. Instead what Sistani did do was lead a march of civilians back to Najaf, then brokered a cease fire which said that al-Sadr had to leave Sistani's turf, but the US couldn't kill al-Sadr and the search warrant for his arrest was voided.

#2 - During recent months al-Sadr's group captured a US soldier. After a few days had passed, Iraqi prime minister Maliki, under pressure from al-Sadr, forced us to remove the check points in Sadr City.

#3 - There will be a "limited" offensive against al Sadr within a few days, according to this Reuters report.


As the article says, we want to attack al-Sadr, but the Iraqis government, the Shiites, tie our hands and make it a "limited" attack. The Iraqis have veto power.

#4 - Sistani says the Shiites alliance must stick together

The section called "The United Alliance at a Crossroads" at this blog is written by someone in Iraq, and goes into the Sunni politics in great detail.

What happened was that a few weeks ago the big hope of the Bush Administration was that al-Sadr would be kicked out of the Iraqi government, replaced by a "moderate". Everyone including President Bush was hopeful. The Washington Post reported that Sistani was fed up with the killing and was ready to make the change. It all came down to Sistani, all of the Shiites parties including al-Sadr went before him for a big meeting. Sistani, perhaps pressured by the media leaks and not wanting to be accused of being a US puppet, said "no" to the moderate, and that the Shiite block had to stick together. Supposedly al-Sadr was going to end the boycott, but he later "changed his mind", blaming subsequent events. Other Shiite groups supported al-Sadr anyway.

We also found out later that the so-called "moderate" Shiite who was going to replace al-Sadr's group in the government, had Iranian soldiers in his compound. The captured documents from those Iranians showed they were providing high powered IEDs and sniper rifles to both Shiite and Sunni Iraqi resistance groups. The Iraqi government let the Iranians go, against US protests, and said that the US was incorrect and the Iranians did nothing wrong.

1/04/2007 04:39:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

> The Arab world was simply not taught a lesson without the shock and awe; they LOVE the shock and awe, and will aquiesce to it.

Hizbollah hasn't surrendered after the Israeli war on it.

> A better tactic would be simply to bomb the Mehdi Army from the air when it appears on its march - perhaps accompanied by a declaration that the USA is not willing to countenance the presence and activities of marauding armies of tens of thousands of youths with AK47s and RPGs any longer

We currently say that Iraq is a democracy, and we are nearly finished in transitioning military control over to the Iraqis. For us to decide we are not "willing to countenance the presence and activities of marauding armies" it seems we would have to say that Iraq is now a territory of the United States, that we are running Iraq, not their elected government, and that we expect to occupy Iraq for a long, long time.

1/04/2007 05:00:00 AM  
Blogger Herr Wu Wei said...

> Ten years ago they predicted that any wars in the first half of this decade would be "fought with moral fervor, but without consensus or follow-through."

That seems to be false because there was a strong consensus behind the Afghanistan War, and we and NATO are still following through.

IMO support for the Iraq War faded not because of cycles, but because Bush was wrong and the people were right. Bush had the support of the Congress and people for phase 1 of the Iraq War, knocking Saddam Hussein out of power and eliminating any possibility of weapons of mass destruction.

However Bush then moved the war into a new second phase, without selling it to the public. He never explained what our goals are for phase 2 and how we will win. He refused to admit mistakes, and never answered his critics, allowing them to pound on him for years, driving his and the war's approval down. If only one team steps onto the field, they win.

At this point, Bush simply has not explained why we need to fight phase 2 and how we will win it. The people are right and he is wrong. Perhaps Bush could come up with a reason for fighting the war, and a way of winning it. Perhaps he could show that it was worth the lives which will be lost. Several people here have suggested ways to do exactly that. If it happens, then Bush will get support for the war and crush the Democrats. To keep that support though, he will need a continuous media campaign, not giving a single speech. President Bush controls his own destiny. Unfortunately it looks like he is too stubborn and pride to fix things. I hope he does do what it takes.

1/04/2007 09:15:00 AM  

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