Monday, July 30, 2007

An NYT article on Iraq

Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack, both fellows at the Brookings Institution, argue in a New York Times entitled "A War We Just Might Win" that the war in Iraq is being won.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with. ...

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

What factors made the difference? The first is a successful campaign of political warfare: connecting the Coalition's objectives with improvements in the daily lives of the people.

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

Second is the availability of Iraqi military units of reasonable quality.

All across the country, the dependability of Iraqi security forces over the long term remains a major question mark. But for now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).

In addition, far more Iraqi units are well integrated in terms of ethnicity and religion. The Iraqi Army’s highly effective Third Infantry Division started out as overwhelmingly Kurdish in 2005. Today, it is 45 percent Shiite, 28 percent Kurdish, and 27 percent Sunni Arab.

Of course these Iraqi units did not spring into existence over night. They are the cumulative result of years of sustained effort. Even the removal of Iraqi deadwood grew from a process of weeding out the failures. Without diminishing the achievements of the current group of commanders the situation in Iraq must reflect both the mistakes and the solid accomplishments of those who came before.

In war, sometimes it’s important to pick the right adversary, and in Iraq we seem to have done so. A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

These groups have tried to impose Shariah law, brutalized average Iraqis to keep them in line, killed important local leaders and seized young women to marry off to their loyalists. The result has been that in the last six months Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists and turn to the Americans for security and help. The most important and best-known example of this is in Anbar Province, which in less than six months has gone from the worst part of Iraq to the best (outside the Kurdish areas). Today the Sunni sheiks there are close to crippling Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies. Just a few months ago, American marines were fighting for every yard of Ramadi; last week we strolled down its streets without body armor.

Interestingly, al-Qaeda chose to make Iraq its decisive arena of confrontation with the United States. The US came to Iraq primarily to topple Saddam Hussein and remove one "state sponsor of terrorism" but it was Al-Qaeda that rushed in to stake its reputation there. A networked insurgency with followers in many Muslim countries could have chosen to attack America elsewhere. But instead it decided to focus its efforts on driving the US from Iraq. For that purpose its leadership established al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and funneled recruits into it from all over the world. This force was tasked with the explicit political goal of creating a Islamic Caliphate that would provide a prototype for a future Islamic state after the hated Americans had been driven out. Therefore much of the post-Saddam violence was probably the consequence of al-Qaeda's decision to flood all the resources of world terrorism into Iraq. Clearly Zarqawi's clear intention from the Samarra mosque bombing onward was to incite as much violence as he could. Given that al-Qaeda made Iraq the center of its global efforts, O’Hanlon and Pollack's admiration of MNF-I's decision to focus against it seems perplexing. Surely Petraeus had no alternative? Surely he was simply picking up the gauntlet? But that would not quite be true. Through much of 2005 and 2006 a variety of lines were suggested. Some argued that the US should lash out against Syria or Iran for allowing "militants" to transit their borders. Some believed Shi'a militias should be the primary target operations. Until recently many argued -- and still argue -- that al-Qaeda didn't exist in Iraq at all; so how could MNF-I focus against what was not there? So while taking on al-Qaeda now seems the obvious choice, in retrospect there were many other candidates vying for the title of Center of Gravity. Those bad guys still remain, but MNF-I saw al-Qaeda in Iraq as the key to the position and that choice, according to O’Hanlon and Pollack, appears to be the right one.

Time will tell. But if focusing on al-Qaeda in Iraq is the right choice the most interesting question is why. My own guess is that by attacking al-Qaeda, the US took engaged not only the most fanatical force in Iraq but the one with the most powerful narrative. And by shrewdly matching kinetic warfare with political warfare, organizing the victims of al-Qaeda's depredations, it brought the myth down to earth. As long as al-Qaeda remained an "idea" it might be regarded as invincible, a mystical will o' the wisp. But once this mystical force was forced to materialize in Iraq, it became embodied in the likes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his henchmen, who, viewed up close, turned out to be nothing more than brutal gangsters of the lowest and most sadistic type instead of latter day Companions of the Prophet. Even Zawahiri, despite his pretensions to refinement, could not avoid discrediting himself as he proved unable to resist threatening to gouge people's eyes out if they did not follow his bidding. It is said that no man is a hero to his own valet. Familiarity with the genuine article brought disillusionment, contempt and finally hatred for al-Qaeda.

And without the romantic mantle of apocalyptic Islamism to puff them up, both Syria and Iran would shrink to the third-rate powers that they truly are. In choosing al-Qaeda as its focus, MNF-I indirectly weakened both Teheran and Damascus in ways that both were powerless to counter. None of this has been completely achieved yet. But as O’Hanlon and Pollack state, Iraq while not yet won is getting better. And if the process continues much will be accomplished if al-Qaeda can be defeated in Iraq; their image tarnished beyond repair and their narrative shown to be a pack of lies. The New York Times article concludes "there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008." Yes, but to some degree it misses the point. What is happening on the battlefield is changing perceptions in Iraq and perhaps throughout the region. Ironically, the US Armed Forces may now know much better than the press that operations go beyond body counts. But whenever US forces are withdrawn the information war must go on. Because the one great probability in the Middle East is that each failed creed gives rise to a new one. The same Six Day War which discredited Nasserism simultaneously launched its successor movement. Radical Islamism harnessed the tide of disillusionment and redirected it to its purposes. And as Al-Qaeda falls in esteem in the Muslim world from its post-September 11 halcyon days, other ideologues will probably attempt to fashion a new movement based on its carcass. That's why the information war should go on until politics in the Middle East is transformed from a sequence of messianic movements to practical endeavor. Until then the victories on Iraq's battlefields will be temporary.


Blogger TigerHawk said...

Heh. You and I were writing at the same time. Of course, you did it better, as usual.

7/30/2007 05:49:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think you are a brilliant man with insight that shines like the sun on the scape of todays terra.

Thanks for that!

7/30/2007 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

but if the dems are invested in defeat & the nytimes turns their flank this way....and this sort of noise will make it into network news...
I also think there has been a perceptible shift in British and continental liberal opinion with regards to the Mideast and mid easterners since the sarkozy election in France.

And this shift is sawing the dems off.

7/30/2007 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger Garth Farkley said...

Somebody has surely posted this quote here before. It's worth repeating:

"The quickest way to end a war is to lose it."

George Orwell

7/30/2007 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger Purple Avenger said...

This isn't the first non-negative piece the NYT has run recently. There have been a few others on the news side as well.

They've been micro-incrementally softening their position for about 3 months now.

Petraeus's progress is undeniable. I believe the NYT is repositioning itself so they won't look like absolute fools 9-12 months from now when the election season gets hot.

7/30/2007 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger Georg Felis said...

The true test of whether or not the Dems have cast aside the policy of “Retreat and Defeat” is what happens when the first Dem Presidential candidate embraces Petraeus’s policy, and declares victory in Iraq is possible.

My prediction is they will be turned on and savaged with great enthusiasm by their own.

7/30/2007 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Harrison said...

The narrative has always been the chink in aQ's armour, and just as I've been advocating for a long time now, along with a select few, aQ will be responsible for disabusing those it seeks to proselytise and indoctrinate of its own ideological fallacies - just like the Soviet Union dispelled all illusions of Communism as a progressive ideology open to reform, decades before its precipitated collapse.

The only factor I didn't count on was how quickly this would perpetuate itself - the conscious decision made by aQ to focus all their energies on Iraq, coupled with the MNF-I's objectives to deal with aQ despite the presence and threat of other factions, certainly catalysed the eventual push of insurgent warfare towards such a degree that it shocked the Iraqis with alacrity, without giving them time to incrementally accept the costs of war, which would have made them more tolerant of aQ's tactics in the long term.

7/30/2007 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Iraq is the Wahhabist's Guadalcanal.

7/30/2007 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger PiltdownMan said...

I know I'm stretching the analogy, but it's interesting to note the difference between AQI's interaction with Iraqis and Hezbolla's "support" among the Lebanese.

AQI has been their own worst enemy. They could have played the 'indigenous support' game a whole lot better, but I am very glad that they did not.

7/30/2007 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Coach Mark said...

And al Qaeda wouldn't have been able to operate with the kind of "success" they have without the assistance they've received from Saddam's Baathist's post invasion.

7/30/2007 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Marzouq the Redneck Muslim said...


AlQueda is a non-state actor, Hezbollah has the support of Iran and Syria. In essence, Hezbollah is Iran's Spetznazz/Foreign Legion.

I have been noticing the trend in the MSM for some time now. The 4GW aspect of the struggle for Iraq is coming to fruition. CNN (Caliphate News Network) has been reporting positive news on Iraq the past month or two. LA Times same, WAPO, not as much. AP sucks, their writing style leaves the reader confused with it's wishful thinking.

Now Iraq is pumped after beating the Wahabbi pukes and things seem on a roll! Gotta love it!

Salaam eleikum and Allahu akbar, y'all!

7/30/2007 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

Red River said...
Iraq is the Wahhabist's Guadalcanal.

Profound. And I think you are right. I hope you are right.

My personal feeling is that radical Islam has been exposed as the gangreenous sore on humanity that it is, for all the western world to see. And for once the stupidity of the MSM works in Bush's favor - by accident. All of Islam is tainted by the Wahhabbist-nutballs, and the 30 million muslims in the US are scrambling to salvage the image of "the religion of peace". Since the MSM lumps all Muslims together, Americans are solidifying a viewpoint that Islam is bad.

Perhaps America will begin to weigh in on some of the other Islamic-sponsored atrocities in the world - like Darfur.

7/30/2007 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

Might also want to consider that the liberal press might be making the war look better to prop up Hillary. Just a thought.

7/30/2007 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

The authors complete avoidance of the national political situation in Iraq would be breath-taking if it wasn't so tendentious. Without seeming to be aware they claim "we" are winning . . . on behalf of a Shiite-led Islamist government deeply allied with Iran. Pollack and O'Hanlon write:

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. . . . In the end, the situation in Iraq remains grave. In particular, we still face huge hurdles on the political front.Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position against one another when major steps towards reconciliation — or at least accommodation — are needed. This cannot continue indefinitely. Otherwise, once we begin to downsize, important communities may not feel committed to the status quo, and Iraqi security forces may splinter along ethnic and religious lines.

Best then not to even realistically DESCRIBE those hurdles, as that might sour the strategically unencumbered narrative of "victory." Here's an excercise for those who consistently neglect the realities of Iraq's national political scene: Describe your own fantasy construct of what political coalitions will rule Iraq in two years. Then add a little more texture by factoring in present political actors: Saleh Mutlak, Mashdani, the Iraqi National Accord, the Iraqi Consensus Front, the Supreme Council for Islam in Iraq, Dawa, Maliki, Jaafari, Bayan Jabr, Moqtada al-Sadr, Talabani and Barzani. What sort of coalition will rule the country, what are their specific goals and can their agendas mesh in effective legislation and implementation? Go ahead, just throw out a few scenarios using the human capital at hand. It's not hard to research.

Why is it Wretchard, that you too consistently disregard the political players, parties and coalitions within the Iraqi state? Is it so demoralizing that it must be excluded in order to have a positive vision of the mission?

7/30/2007 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

"But instead it decided to focus its efforts on driving the US from Iraq."

Apparently they learned the wrong lesson from their experience with the Soviets in Afghanistan.

7/30/2007 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

If the surge continues to be successful, it will work to Hillary's advantage, at least relative to the other Dem candidates.

7/30/2007 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

dhimTrackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 07/30/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

7/30/2007 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

The other possibility that occurs to me is that the good'ol Clinton policies were based on the post Cold War "Ain't gonna study war no more let's buy the world a Coke" theory of international relations.

And in order for that approach to come in vogue again the Dems need to be able to say "Well, the War's over and we will have no more of that. Now on to pointless feel-good actions and profitable money transfers."

They know damn well that they are no good at real international relations and need a national feeling of "ding dong the wicked witch is dead" in order to get elected and prosper.

7/30/2007 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Old Neocon said...

Recon, it is certainly true that the political situation in Iraq is crucial.

It might be the case, however, that although the political structure we designed and put into place is not going as well as it needs to, it might not be the structure that we end up with.

Some on-the-ground reporters are writing of a governing process being enabled by our guys that is essentially up from the ground. It might grow to the point that it replaces, or drastically changes, the political structure in place in Iraq now.

If so, it might be a more up-from-the=bottom mix than the down-from-the-top outfit in power now. If it is based on what our guys are arranging now, it might not be too bad.

Apparently a lot of that kind of thing happened in Germany after WWII. Probably as a result of the military government having to abandon much of its plans in favor of a patchwork of snap decisions which really worked better.

7/30/2007 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Wretchard --

Everything you say is true, but it doesn't matter. Dems are committed to withdrawing and will do so, each vote inches up closer to a rout and everyone knows the US will leave the Gulf to the Iranians.

There is simply no bipartisan political will (or even will among Republicans) to fight for victory in Iraq and the Gulf, which would be an Iraq that does not pose a threat to the US as an AQ base of terrorist operations, is neutral to Iran, and is seen as a victory against AQ and Iran by the US.

We have decided to surrender in DC and that is that. State, CIA, Dems, the Media are profoundly threatened by the definition of victory by above while defeat will re-inforce they think isolationism and measures they deem important: gay marriage, creeping sharia, anti-Christian measures (I am no Christian but even I can see it), and the whole elitist stew of Global Warming allowing minute European style controls over the thoughts and lives of ordinary people.

Besides Iraq is a sideshow. Musharraf totters and may be exiled or overthrown or killed and Zarqawi astride Pakistan's Nukes. Iran may light off a nuke test any day now. AQ might strike at any moment in the heart of America killing tens of thousands.

Any or all of that might change things around: not the fight in Iraq but a wider, WWII-style War against Muslims world-wide (and at home). My sense was that by 2005 the golden hour to forestall these events was gone, and by not moving in new people to replaced failed ones Bush had guaranteed it's failure. At best Petraeus is like De Gaulle in the Phony War in 1939. We are just waiting for the equivalent of the Panzers through the Ardennes and the Fall of France.

7/30/2007 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Just like Democrats are politically invested in failure in Iraq, many of the posters here are emotionally invested in seeing us fail there as well it seems. Whiskey, the analogy is July 1944, not the winter of 1939. Patton (Patraeus) has taken command of Third Army (which by the way is the very same Army currently waging the fight in the ME). The breakout is about to happen and the Islamic "Reich" is doomed. Yes, there might be another "Battle of the Bulge", but victory will come nevertheless. Another analogy is this is the summer of 1864 again and "Sherman" is marching toward Atlanta. "Atlanta" will fall, and yes the fight will continue, but the outcome of the war will no longer in doubt. And just like Sherman's victory elected Lincoln, so too will Patraeus' "victory" spell doom for the Democrats and all those who cheered on America's defeat. "Americans love a winner, and will not tolerate a loser." Don't need to remind you who said that.

Many of the wisers heads in Washington opined back in 2003 that we would be in Iraq for at least ten years. I have had no doubt of that from the start. I was listening when the President said aboard the USS Lincoln: " We have difficult work to do in Iraq......The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. And then we will leave — and we will leave behind a free Iraq." I have long said that Iraq will be an issue during the 2012 election, and perhaps even the 2016 election.

"The war on terror is not over, yet it is not endless. We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide. No act of the terrorists will change our purpose, or weaken our resolve, or alter their fate. Their cause is lost. Free nations will press on to victory."
George W Bush

7/30/2007 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Tarnsman --

The key battlefield is not Iraq but Washington DC and what measures we will and will not take globally and at home.

Right now at home we have said we will not take measures to find out what AQ is up to (legal FISA restrictions), will not stop SLAPP lawsuits aka the John Doe suit by CAIR/Flying Imams, will prosecute blasphemy against Islam by creeping Sharia, and the like. We are closing Gitmo, sending some if not most of the prisoners free. And so on, a general retreat.

Abroad we sit and act passively, promote surrender and negotiations with Iran, AQ, Pakistan, and Hamas/Hezbollah/Muslim Brotherhood. There is no will to fight and with no will to fight there will be no fighting.

Petraeus can do miracles, and we will still withdraw by the time of the general election. Dems are invested in defeat and last I checked they ran Congress, lead in the polling for President, and run the media.

7/30/2007 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

So even the NY Times says we may be winning a little bit in Iraq, but Malaki is shouting at Petreus and demanding that Bush fire him and pull him out of Iraq.

Anyone else wonder what they're hollering at each other about?

7/30/2007 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Triton'sPolarTiger said...


I've wondered that myself... is it possible that Mal is playing for the wrong team?

7/30/2007 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Triton'sPolarTiger said...


You're not the only one who sees the DC elite as a sort of elected aristocracy. Google "elected aristocracy" and as of today: 902 hits. Not a bunch, but...

I tend to agree with your past comments along these lines and how it invests these people in defeat... the problem for them, however, is that our enemy might dramatically alter the playing field via a mass casualty event rather than simply remain content to slow-cook the American frog.

As terrible as it may sound, I have less fear of a nuke on the Hudson than I do the present state of affairs. Once aQ, or Iran, or (fill in the blank) crosses that line, the rules of the game will be immediately changed. Anyone holding a shred of power in government who fails to support a massive and sustained response will soon cease being part of government.

7/30/2007 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

So the question is, "How do we win the information war at home?"

When the New York Times and ALL the Democrat presidential candidates are invested in America's defeat, how can America (and Western Civilization) prevail?

We need a Democrat equivalent of Abu Ghraib...

7/30/2007 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

I think Mr. O'Hanlon and Mr. Pollack are providing political cover for those Democrats who may consider supporting the strategy of General Petraeus. This would also give the Democratic Party cover if General Petraeus actually wins militarily.

On the political side, I don't think Iraqi leaders will make peace with one another based upon congressional ultimatums. Instead, any peace must come from the bottom-up, with local conditions becoming stable enough to allow national politicians latitude to make deals on their own terms.

The United States and its allies were not the only faction that invaded Iraq in 2003. Iranian and Saudi proxies also invaded and turned Iraq into a proxy battlefield for their quarrel. Any strategy that deviates from promoting a strong Iraq will effectively leave Iraq prone to becoming devoured by Iran and Saudi Arabia.

7/30/2007 04:54:00 PM  
Blogger vnjagvet said...

I will support the first Democratic candidate to call for victory in Iraq. If it is Hillary! I will hold my nose with my left hand, and salute her with my right.

If she makes that move unequivocally, it would be worth it to me to put up with my disagreement with her on the role of the federal government in social and economic issues.

I wonder how many of you think she might make this move?

Is the NYT beginning to give her cover for a hard right turn on this issue?

If she makes the move, do the nutroots have the power to derail her and pull it out for Obama or Edwards (who are unlikely to make such a move IMHO)?

7/30/2007 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

The Guadalcanal analogy is interesting. That battle began in August 1942. It was three years almost exactly, until the war ended. The question is whether we have three years.

I agree that the Democrats want to lose the war, but they don't want to take responsibility for it either. They want Bush to lose the war. He will refuse to do that, and I think they will probably not push any harder than they already have.

7/30/2007 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner John Burns on Iraq, Iran and how the surge is working.
(and the difficult decisions yet to be made)
An honorable and humble professional.

7/30/2007 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger tony8489 said...

I tend to agree with whiskey. we have lost our will. things we used to hold sacred, such as love of country, western values, and baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and chevrolet are all sneered at. we seem to have lost our will to fight, look at europe, for god's sake. what has happened to us? when are we going to wake up and push back? why do we always wait until the last minute? so many people are going to die before we wake up and finish this thing for good. but to get there, it is going to be ugly. really ugly.

7/30/2007 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

AQ will never admit defeat. They will change the subject and move on to another battlefield. To defeat them they need to be chased out of Waziristan, which is of course out of the scope of the war in Iraq.

In 2003 the majority of Americans supported the war. Their change in attitude was not because the war was a bad idea, contrary to what many of them say today, but because we have seemed to be losing. If we seem to be winning, in the next six months say, the support will come back.

7/30/2007 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

we have lost our will. things we used to hold sacred, such as love of country, western values, and baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and chevrolet are all sneered at. we seem to have lost our will to fight...

Disagree. This speaks to the previous discussion about the failure of our government at so many different levels to do what they're supposed to do, with the military being the only exception.

I think ordinary Americans have not lost the will to fight, but our government (for whatever reason) has become so politically correct that it won't stand up to entities like CAIR, Cindy Sheehan, Ward Churchill or Jesse Jackson.

I don't know that the American system is salvageable, but that we may have to revert to vigilantism to over-ride the sellout in progress by the FBI, the CIA, and the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice. I have absolute faith in ordinary American citizens that we are ready and able to do this, when push comes to shove.

As for Yurp, yes, I think they're lost. They are not willing to fight for ANYthing, having been so traumatized by WW2, and so will slowly slide into dhimmitude, whining all the way about how awful their Muslims are. I was just reading an article about emigration of educated white people out of Britain, as people of non-pallor are streaming in the other end. The Brits, and I daresay a lot of other Yurps, are headed for Canada, Australia and America. We'll be the last bastion of that "truth, justice and way" thing that all Superman fans know and understand.

Two years ago, when I first mentioned the concept of vigilantism, Wretchard was appalled. Evidently they don't have any history of posse's in Australia so he could only envision lynch mobs and Henry Fonda defending an innocent prisoner in "12 Angry Men". But since then, AMericans have faced down our government three times, and forced them to abandon Really Stupid Legislation, and the idea of a grassroots (armed) revolution isn't so appalling any more, I think.

7/30/2007 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger tony8489 said...

nahncee-good points. I agree the folks will fight, but are we not reflecting ourselves by the people we elect to represent us? I live in Minneapolis, and I offer keith ellison up as a politically correct example of what I am talking about. folks here totally disregarded his CAIR connection and elected him anyway

7/30/2007 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Some folks have suggested that Hillary and her War Machine (funny how only at politics are Dems good at "war") because Obama is cleaning her clock fund-raising wise and is rising in the polls among Dem Primary Voters with anti-War stuff, she is preparing a "victory" in Iraq wrt DC perception.

Certainly Hillary has a huge problem, in that Obama is the better candidate for surrender and defeat in Iraq. Why, he's even promised a global apology tour with stops in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela. If it's defeat you want, Obama has total and humiliating defeat more than Hillary.

That being said, I just see any lack of will to fight, anywhere, outside the Military. Because fighting any way, even against creeping PC-sharia, is a loser. Fundamentally fighting means those in power have to cede some to those doing the fighting. I think that explains much including Europe's decline.

7/30/2007 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

Ymarsakar and I were discussing the days shortly after Iraq collapsed in the comments to Insurgency or Counterinsurgency at my site.

Ymarsakar wrote:
The real problem was, Rummy and Bush and whomever was in charge was running an insurgency type operation without Afghanistan SF principles. Meaning, you had zero time in country to work up local ties in OIF 1 2003. The US Army used no local forces, no Shia, and no Kurds.

The US actually ran a fracking insurgency the right way in Afghanistan and it paid Big Dividends.

After that, I guess some weird started happening that I can’t tangle. All kinds of rotating commanders came and went. Abu Ghraib. Franks retired. An incredible rack of variables to calculate, integrate, and analyze.

Then he went and tied it up with a pretty bow.
I suppose in a way, for a military that had not seen any major engagements, OIF 1 was an opportunity for them to shine. And they weren’t going to let the SF do it like they did it in Afghanistan. They wanted this to be an American operation, to train American officers and people. I believe they adopted the armored rush to Baghdad because that was the probable strategy they would have used in Gulf War 1 had it not been for Bush and the UN. Or had Bush decided that now with the Cold War over, it was time to flex American military muscle.

However, this wasn’t Gulf War 1. The Highway of Death and the total psychological surprise that resulted in Iraqi forces surrendering en masse because they were told the Americans were weak pathetic fools, was not present in OIF 1. They were trying to continue a war, which they were really doing, but using the same tactics as they would have back then. Fighting the last war is something generals have always been accused of.

Except this war looked like a success. But that just covered all the stuff people missed because even with media embeds in 2003, they could not see Saddam’s strategy because they weren’t paying attention. The CIA had no human agents and those that they would have, would be betrayed to the media by folks like Plame or some other ambitious career bureacrat.

Now that makes sense to me. Rummy wanted to do another Special Forces insurgency in Iraq just like the one in Afghanistan, but the Army wanted to resume Gulf War I with a drive to Baghdad. So shock and awe got wedded to an Insurgency followup and they didn't work. Duh!

7/30/2007 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm convinced the surge is working on the military side, but the politics seems tightly wedged.

Wretchard, it would be great to get your thinking on our strategy, such as it may be, for resolving that part of the conflict, along with your thoughts about Peter Galbraith's piece in the NY Review of Books.

7/31/2007 04:39:00 AM  
Blogger someone said...

"So even the NY Times says we may be winning a little bit in Iraq, but Malaki is shouting at Petreus and demanding that Bush fire him and pull him out of Iraq."

Except, oops, that's baloney.

7/31/2007 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger cjrrr said...


To answer you, I'll start with an analogy: the relationship between a servant and a master.

When a servant is weak, he needs the support and protections of his master to survive. In return, he gives his labor and his loyalty.

However, if a servant becomes strong, he can start to look after himself. He no longer needs his master. In fact, he starts to resent his master. Eventually, when the servant become strong enough and confident enough, he leaves his master and goes his own way.

So, yes, there are Iraqi politicians that are beholden to Iran. But that is because of the current weak state of the Iraqi govenment institutions, and their own weak positions. Eventually, as the Iraqi institutions becomes stronger and politicians develop their own power base, they will not need support from Iran anymore. Then they will start resending "interference" from Iran.........

7/31/2007 01:42:00 PM  

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