Sunday, April 13, 2008


The word Grim used in a post to refer to the process of Shi'ite militias cleaning house was "disaggregation" and he argued that was good news because it got rid of the loose cannons who could not be controlled in a political deal. Today the NYT reports that the Iraqi government "dismissed 1,300 soldiers and policemen for refusing to fight or performing badly during last month’s offensive against Shiite militias in the southern city of Basra."

Now remember that despite this and the poor performance of other units the Iraqi Army still forced Sadr to pull in his men and continues to operate against the militias to the present. The Iraqi Army still emerged the victor of the battlefield, relatively speaking. Therefore the dismissal of these 1,300 men is really an after-action "disaggregation" to get rid of the deadwood.

The New York Times argues that the dismissals are proof of failure. It writes, "the dismissals were an implicit admission of failures during the government offensive, which was widely criticized as being poorly planned" but go on to add that "they [the Iraqi Army] claim to have restored order to the streets, and the nearby ports vital to Iraq’s oil industry" and that "American officials ... praised the Iraqi forces’ progress in being able to move 6,600 reinforcements south to Basra so quickly".

Whenever one reads about an Army that purges its nonperforming personnel while able to secure its objects and demonstrating an ability to maneuver its forces the conclusion is normally the opposite of the NYT's diagnosis. Here is an Army that is has performed fairly enough but wants to do better. Here is an army that wants to learn.

So while it is probably true that the Iraqi Army has a long to way to go to reach the desired standard it would have been far more worrisome if no one had been "disaggregated"; Basra had been left largely unsecured and reinforcements were still cooling their heels hundreds of miles away. Expect the operations against the militias to continue.

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.


Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/13/2008 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Really, what's the point of all of this? Is Middle Eastern oil and the accompanying welfare to military contractors where taxpayers money should be spent? Is it not time to rethink this economic model?

4/13/2008 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Wretchard said:

"The New York Times argues that the dismissals are proof of failure.... Whenever one reads about an Army that purges its nonperforming personnel while able to secure its objects and demonstrating an ability to maneuver its forces the conclusion is normally the opposite of the NYT's diagnosis."

The New York Times' assertion is additional proof that the Times is presenting editorial opinion as news (who believes in the NYT anymore except for moonbats?). At an earlier time, the Iraqi government did not have the option of dismissing 1,300 nonperforming soldiers and policemen. Previously, the Iraqi government needed the raw numbers of personal even if it included dead wood and infiltrators.

The bottom line is that Sadr had to negotiate for peace. No amount of MSM spin can change that fact.

4/13/2008 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Fen said...

The NYTs doesn't begin to understand the concept of an NCO-run military. We're training them under Marine Corps doctrine. They will be lethal.

4/13/2008 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

So if these busted cops were to drag their sorry asses before that judicial committee that just granted amnesty for Bilal Hussein, could they whine loud enough about being misunderstood to guilt-trip Maliki into giving them their jobs back?

Or will they just apply for asylum in America on the grounds that if they stay in Iraq, both sides *and* Iran will be gunning for them.

4/13/2008 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

The point of all this, the disaggregation, is that the reasons for disaggregation are caustic to the welfare and discipline of a cohesive fighting force.
It shows a tremendous leap forward in their professionalism to get this done and done quickly. Other fighting men under fire or in a edgy situation can immediately start to see signs of who will perform and who will not.
It's a great sign.

Some who are still stuck on dumb continue attempting to frame the debate in what are now archaic, sclerotic, terms, such as "welfare to military contractors" etc. Somehow they have missed the larger scope of the geopolitical blowback from a US/Iraqi defeat in the ME, now that Iraq is on the road of a democracy.
The good in that is it offers comic relief to those who see the bigger picture and understand the stakes involved. While laughing you still gotta just shake your head in disbelief.

4/13/2008 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

I like the word "decimate". Decimate originally referred to the killing of every tenth person, a punishment used in the Roman army for mutinous legions.

4/13/2008 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


You're building this castle on rotten wood planks. In ten fifteen years the strategic value of oil will be near zero.

4/13/2008 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Tym said...

Oil will have "strategic value" for alot longer than 10-15 years. There is no energy source on the horizon that can replace oil completely in that short a time frame. While the current high prices of a barrel of oil will no doubt encourage the search for alternatives, oil is still king and will remain so for many years to come.

Having a strategic presence in the ME is going to prove invaluable in the coming years.

4/13/2008 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Charles Gitout said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/13/2008 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger Fen said...

In ten fifteen years the strategic value of radical Islam will be near zero.


4/13/2008 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger Buckets said...

Hello Belmont Clubbers,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I've probably been lurking since 2003, when Wretchard was analyzing the invasion of Iraq, but it was his exposition on Keyser Soze and the nature of Will in warfare that got me hooked. I feel like I know some of you pretty well, so I figured it was time I spoke up and said hello.

Though it's still possible (not necessarily probable) that Maliki's government will end up as an Iranian mouthpiece, I think it's clear at this point that Maliki and Co. trounced whatever JAM and Sadr were playing at. Even the deep thinkers at the NYT will eventually have to concede (privately, of course) that there has been a victor here.

4/13/2008 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Charles Gitout said...

"Don't you fuck me, Brimley!"

"I'm not fucking anyone, Frank-

"I don't believe my fucking ears, Wilford, I don't believe my fucking-

"Now hold on a minute, this is my name and my reputat-

"We paid you! We paid you! We didn't pay for your heartfelt consideration! We paid for you!"

"Old Wisconsin has been good to me, yes, but, I don't know what else I can tell you-"

"You can tell me you're going to forget all this healthy living crap and do the commercial, the commercial we paid you to do, not imagine in your minds' fucking eye."

"You've been very difficult to work with, Frank"

"Don't you even, Brimley! We didn't take three months to draft a contract for you to flirt with us. You signed with us to work with us, not come into this office and complain about your indigestion and think that lets you slink out of your obligations to us."

"So, you want me to lie? You want me to -"

"Shut up! Just shut up, Brimley."

"Now, wait a minute, if you think I can be bullied into -

"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! You either agree to the commercial, you give us 10 minutes of content and you get to not waste our time in court, after wasting my time this afternoon"

"Oh, well then fuck you!"

"No! Fuck you, Brimley! Fuck you from the bottom of my fucking hear-

"Oh for christ's sake, fuck Old Wisconsin and fuck whatever else you fucking do, badgering an old man like I was your little whore"

"Brimley, if you were my fucking whore, I would beat the living shit out of you, dump you in the projects, and wait for you to be found by housing inspectors a year later. Don't you ever think-"

"Oh, of all the god-forsaken things, you act like I'm ruining you, Frank. If Old Wisconsin sinks its because you've threatened partners and figuratively shat on any benefit of the doubt people have prior to working with you"

"Get out, Brimley. Get the fuck out and return the marketing merchandise. You don't leave this parking lot until its all here, right in front of my fucking desk.


"Don't! I will have you thrown in fucking jail! I will have your assets seized, garnished and repossessed, right down to your liberty mutual pig stickers you fat fucking nosferatu!"

"Liberty medical, you fucking nitwit!"

"Get out, Brimley! Get out before i dump confectioners sugar on your lap and make you comatose!"

"Well, I've never ever met someone so obnoxious, so...

"Don't care don't care don't care don't fucking care-

"...miserable, that he can't work with..oh, fuck, to hell with it! I'm leaving, alright. I'll leave and you can pry your merchandise from my dead hands"

"Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck me god dammit! Leave and fucking drop dead then! Get out! Get the fuck out!"

"Go choke on your own cock, Frank, you rotten little queer!"

"Haha, look at you-

Frank places his hands on his desk, stands up, and leans toward Wilford.

"Look at fucking you, Brimley. All fired up, risking your cardiac health on trying to piss me off, trying to see if you can leave here with some pride after fucking us all over."

"You don't scare me, Frank. I've seen, heard and beaten worse. And you're the last person who should talk about pride, threatening someone because of their honesty!"

"Weren't you leaving, Wilford?"

"Weren't you, oh hell, yes, I'm leaving, I'm leaving right fucking -


"Right fucking now!

"Charming, Wilford. Really! You should swear more often"

"And you should consider this bridge burned frank! Best of luck to you, really."

Wilford rose and put on his hat.

"Oh, and Frank, tell Michelle I say hello, will you?"

His eyes glassy as if just now he was prodded with an instrument of torture, Frank gazed into a spot on the wall, and jerkily yanked a desk drawer open. Seeing this, Wilford doddered towards the door, but not before Frank produced a .38 special revolver, and riddled Wilford with three bullets, causing him to topple into the hallway. Frank stood over the half of the prostrate and panting Wilford that laid in the conference room.

"Lesson for you, Brimley - don't fuck with me"

Wilford tried to suck in air, as if to fuel a shout, but not before Frank drove two remaining bullets into his already bloodied chest.

Cordite and sulfur in the air, Frank looked at the mess in front of him, the geysers of gore having dissipated into dribbles. Sighing to no one but himself, Frank turned away from Wilford.


Putting the gun to his temple, he pulled the trigger, toppling dead onto the floor beside his former business partner.

4/13/2008 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

This Gitout character has posted the same passage over at EB. He's written a book called "Wilford Brimley's Mistake", and is trying to sink the old hook in, so's you'll all buy it.

4/13/2008 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger Charles Gitout said...

"The Unauthorized Brimley: Ribald Tales from the Glycemic Edge"

Brimley is an important object of study, insofar as his celebrity has more compelling international appeal than the GWOT.

4/13/2008 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger gdude said...

geez, that's really great literature. such scintillating dialogue. so full of range of expression.


gitoutta here.

4/13/2008 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I find the dialogue compelling, the drama unbearable, the philosophical background profound, but the plot sucks.

4/13/2008 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Breaking it down into components, removing the poor performers is a required function of any reasonable maintenance operation.

However within the bounds of market place the NYT refuses to maintain itself, thus we have such sterling examples of poor opinion pieces printed in place of journalism.

4/14/2008 03:41:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

NahnCee said...
So if these busted cops were to drag their sorry asses before that judicial committee that just granted amnesty for Bilal Hussein...
The gory details:

An Iraqi judicial panel dismissed the last remaining criminal charge against a photographer for The Associated Press, Bilal Hussein,
on Sunday, and ordered him released from custody, two years after he was detained by the United States military, The Associated Press reported.

The committee said there should be no further action on allegations that Mr. Hussein, 36, may have had improper contacts with insurgents. In December 2004, Mr. Hussein and two other journalists were stopped by armed men and taken at gunpoint to photograph a body propped up with armed insurgents standing over it.

Mr. Hussein has maintained his innocence and has said he was only doing the work of a news photographer in a war zone.

Asked about the ruling, the United States military had no immediate comment. Previously, spokesmen had said officials would review the panel’s orders before deciding whether to release him.

4/14/2008 05:03:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Will Charles Gitout receive the
Nubile Prize?

4/14/2008 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger Clioman said...

Does the Darwin Award have a literary division?

4/14/2008 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Interesting - Reuters is disputing the NYT's facts. In a news story this morning about the freed British journalist, Wisam Mohammed reports that the IA was "embarrassed" by its performance in Basra, based on the premise that their operations had "failed to dislodge masked militiamen from the streets" and so therefore did not achieve the objective. The reporter also says that the Basra operation was "hasty" and "triggered fighting across Southern Iraq and Baghdad," turning the idea of the Tet-offensive spoiling attack on its head. I wonder which set of facts is more correct? As usual, I am going with Wretchard on this one.

The story link is here:

4/14/2008 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger mercutio said...

I saw a "B" historical epic costume drama many decades ago that has stuck with me. (Shows my level of intellection.) The setting was in the ancient Near East, I believe. Two princes are debating a course of action. One draws his sword and cleaves a metal pipe in two. This is the approach to take with the enemy, he says. The second prince draws his sword with his right hand, drops a silk scarf with his left hand, and proceeds, with his ultra-sharp sword, to slice the silk scarf in two.

General Petraeus, unlike our Congressional leaders, seems to get the silk cutting idea as well as the metal-crushing idea. Mr. Maliki seems to know how to use both swords. Many a time I've hoped that President Bush would wield silk-cutting words to slice and disembowel our enemies. Alas, that is not going to happen. Maybe he's building up a serviceable "steady George" persona, however, that will endear him to future generations.

On an unrelated-but-related topic: Beware the silk-cutting words of Mr. Obama, or you will find yourself neatly eviscerated.

In "Njal's Saga," the hero is fighting his nemesis Skarp Hethinn on a frozen lake. Each is swinging his broadsword, leaping over the other's swing. The action stops, each warrior looking the other in the eye. Our hero says: "That's right, Skarp . . . There's no need to look . . . Your leg is gone."

4/14/2008 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

I wonder how long Hussein will last on the street? His associates will be noted, his contacts and travels surveilled.

Where is his value, now? As a propagandist, or a martyr?

I think that's a pretty easy question to answer.

4/14/2008 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 04/14/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

4/14/2008 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Boy that was an old movie, from 1935! I saw it too. Cecil B DeMilles "The Crusades"

In the film's most memorable scene, the fundamental difference between the boorish Richard (Western Crusader) and the cultured Saladin (Muslim conquerer) is demonstrated when the Saracen ruler delicately cleaves Berengaria's silk scarf in twain with his gleaming sword. It took a great deal of nerve to depict the film's hero as a thuggish brute and the nominal villain as the most sympathetic character in the story, but DeMille gets away with it in The Crusades, and still has time left over to deliver his usual quota of thrills, pageantry, convoluted history and campy dialogue. And yes, that is Ann Sheridan as a Christian captive in the opening scenes. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

On the other hand, as we used to say in the military, "Never bring a sword to a gunfight"

4/14/2008 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Evanston2 said...

Buckets, thank you for moving "up" from lurking to posting a comment. However, what you said is either meaningless or contradictory.

You started by asserting that "it's still possible (not necessarily probable) that Maliki's government will end up as an Iranian mouthpiece." Hey, lots of things are possible, but unlikely. The immmediate point of the Basra fighting is Maliki's faction is taking on those whose primary loyalty is to Iran (Sadrists, JAM, special groups). If Maliki were to function as an Iranian loyalist (or as you say, "mouthpiece") this would not be his strategy.

I agree that JAM and Sadr have lost face here.

Regarding the NYTs comments on the Iraqi army and police, they are both getting bigger and more professional by the day. Having standards is a mark of success. Contrast this with the NYT itself, which is dying by the day. The next time they have layoffs (any day now!) will they admit its because they are miserable failures? No, they're quick to claim that layoffs by others are a mark of failure, but unlike Iraq their enterprise is becoming "disaggregated" every time they try to sell opinion as fact.

4/14/2008 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger mercutio said...


Thanks for the info on "The Crusades" movie! That really is an old movie.

Sometimes movie memories, not to mention other memories,are so faded that you don't even know how to begin to retrieve them. I guess that's what the internet is for.

4/14/2008 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Truthful James said...

Haven't spoken up for a long time, but that wasn't al Sadr the IA was up against. It was refugee Iraqis from Iran trained and probably led by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard

al Sadr is just a eunuch figurehead in this game, hoping for a continuing Persian payoff

4/14/2008 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

So while it is probably true that the Iraqi Army has a long to way to go to reach the desired standard it would have been far more worrisome if no one had been "disaggregated" ...

The Iraqi army's "disaggregation" is a micro-routine of a larger macro that Islam must undergo. Just as the IA ousted "loose cannons" or underperformers, so must Islam as a whole begin to expel its jihadists.

This is the only true way for Islam to "reform" or "pacify" itself. Sadly, the likelyhood of any such housecleaning happening spontaneously is less than zero. Much as with how a part of Iraq's continuing survival as a nation depended upon this purge, so does Islam's further existence.

While it is necessary to treat Islam as monolithic, it may well not possess sufficient internal cohesion whereby it might overcome the fragmentary effects of sectarianism within its ranks. This is where it will likely part ways with Iraq in terms of "disaggregation". Muslims, as a body, do not possess enough unity to arrive at such a delicate concensus. Larger issues like "death to the West" and a global caliphate are handily swallowed whole while the ummah strangles on the notion of excising jihadism, even though Islam's very existence may hinge upon it.

This is why I continue to support a program of externally imposed "disaggregation" whereby Islam's elite are eviscerated from their positions of power and influence through targeted killings.

As the dismissal of charges against Bilal Hussein clearly shows, even his highly questionable ability to anticipate insurgent bomb attacks and other terrorist actions evidently were not enough to garner a modicum of censure from his fellow Muslims.

Thus, it remains equally improbable that Islam will ever obtain anywhere near the popular quorum required to begin a definitive purge of jihadists from within the ummah. Using externally applied force to initiate such incentivization remains one of the few functional alternatives short of massively disproportionate retaliation or, lastly, Total War.

In short, Iraq's diminutive nationalistic goals cannot be scaled up or magnified by Islam's cracked lens. Larger supra-national Islamic goals are sufficiently imaged by this fractured glass but internecine Muslim dissent and sectarian strife prevent anything remotely resembling a unifed approach towards the more distributed and picayune sorting out of jihadists from within the ummah.

This is why, barring a dramatic shift in Western policy and war-fighting strategy, Islam is actively forcing events into the "coffin corner" of a Muslim holocaust.

4/14/2008 03:33:00 PM  

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