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14 November 2006


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Got A Watch

"But the denizens of inside the beltway are not asleep or stupid or unaware"

Really? How do you come to that performance metric? Based on past performance (say, the last 5 years)I would say a room full of trained chimps banging away at random on typewriters could have probably produced a better outcome.

This is the true legacy of the neo-cons: monumental incompetence that has built a legacy of hatred and failure that will last for generations. No amount of "Study Groups" will be able to produce a fig leaf large enough to cover that.

Jerry Thompson

How come -- everybody says there is no military solution to the problem in Iraq, yet we keep talking about "military options", a new military strategy, etc.?

Friendly Fire

Great post Lightflyer.

Maybe 1(a) might be to fund political parties through tax revenues rather than lobbies. ie. Get rid of AIPAC.

Ken Sitz

Colonel Lang,

I'm a long time reader and thought you might be amused by this unsolicited advice for the Iraq Study Group that my partner Bill posted last Sunday (Memo to Iraq Study Group: Herman Munster Still Available).

Thank you so much for your service to the country and your insightful writing and publishing.


COL Lang,

Congratulations apparently are in order. Sadly, though unsurprisingly, you've called the shot on the administration's initiative of choice re: Iraq. (Click on my name for the link to the Guardian article.)

And now to weep for those whose suffering and death will come because of this poorly-danced kabuki.


Got A Watch,

Since you are from the Old Commonwealth I'll make an exception and explain.

Make no mistake, the denizens of Inside The Beltway are truly very aware, very smart and very powerful people. The question that really should be asked is how come these people were so acquiescent and passive about a course of action that was crazy and illegal on first principles. Not only that but they have been that way until now. I guess we will have to leave it to the historians to sort it out.

I recall watching the political process with great attention post 911. I was appalled at the fear and cowardice apparent in the Congress. Should anyone have the temerity to wonder out loud if the war option was wise their patriotism would be questioned and everyone, everyone would turn to the flag and salute. America was ill-served by its Congress.

Even worse, too many Americans stood by mute and passive as their constitutional rights, so rightly admired elsewhere, were shredded and demeaned in the same period.

Knowing and admiring Americans as I do the whole thing is unfathomable to me.

anna missed

Of some note, is>THIS anti-Shiite screed written by the U.S. official in charge of training Police Service Cadets in Amman Jordan - for the Iraqi Interior Ministry. His name is Tim Greene, working for ther U.S. State Dept. An excerpt:

So yes, the Shiites should expect the US and Coalition governments to shift their support and now is the time to do that. Although it will prove difficult to change positions, to take down the militias and get back peace and security in Iraq, the Sunnis are the group to lead us to the required balance for that “victory”, I am confident., If we wait, we will never get control in this country and thousands more Iraqi civilians will die in the revenge process and so will US and Coalition soldiers caught in the cross hairs.


Thanks 11B40 for the link. This paragraph caught my attention.

"You've got to remember, whatever the Democrats say, it's Bush still calling the shots. He believes it's a matter of political will. That's what [Henry] Kissinger told him. And he's going to stick with it," a former senior administration official said. "He [Bush] is in a state of denial about Iraq. Nobody else is any more. But he is. But he knows he's got less than a year, maybe six months, to make it work. If it fails, I expect the withdrawal process to begin next fall."

I guess if this does not work it will sink McCain. Curious to see how the Dems will react. They will be squeezed by the majority of Americans who voted last week for withdrawal and the political attacks that their push for withdrawal means defeat.



People were terrified, and that causes them to lose their reason. Prior to the election I heard on the radio concerns of voters like "what happened in New York on 9/11 should not happen in my little town". Far too many Congressmen and their constituents buy the "fight them there so we aren't fighting them in the streets of Fort Worth" nonsense. Even if the Congressmen weren't so stupid, their currency is the ability to get reelected and precious few of them would risk that. After all, if they lose, they are no longer one of the "very aware, very smart, and very powerful people".

Actually, the best thing if such a thing were possible might be if all of al Qaeda attempts such an "invasion" of the US. In hostile territory and alien population, with no logistics to speak of , they won't last a couple of weeks, and the problem will be over with once and for all. Instead we have the hard problem of trying to find a dilute al Qaeda embedded in indifferent to hostile populations.

Got A Watch

Lightflyer: I agree with the intent of your posts, and in general agree with your eloquent viewpoint.

However, not having attended Committee meetings or been in Congress/Senate/White House/Pentagon in person, I can only go by what I read in the media every day. I judge the government and nations by the outcome achieved, not by rhetoric or how passionate for or against a policy their speeches are.

The outcome in Iraq is obvious to all but the most die-hard neo-con blowhard. Regardless of your perception of competence, or my perception of complete incompetence, the end result has been a disaster for America and the world (unless you are Osama in a cave, he is smiling, all is going according to plan).

Sure, it is easy for an armchair pundit like me to make pronouncements - looking backward, I feel I was correct in most cases, while the MSM/Republicans/Neo-Cons were totally wrong, and have been proven so by events.

Continuing to do the wrong thing cannot make a bad situation better. At least, with the internet, we can debate these things in a way we could not 20 years ago. Great posts from all.


zanzibar, you're more than welcome. I believe the article goes on to state that the Dems are likely to let 43 have his way, all the better to improve their position for 2008. IIRC, this trial balloon (or trial dirigible) is the McCain Plan writ a bit larger, so if it fails the Dems will have some extra ammo to expend on him both directly and by tying him to 43.

And speaking of 43, this plan certainly fits with his continuing support of Bolton and with his slate of proposed judicial nominees. Apparently his take on the 2006 election is that it didn't happen. And it's entirely consistent with his usual m.o. that any negative consequences of his decisions will be borne largely by others.


Col. Lang,

Now where have we heard this language before? The Guardian (UK) is reporting that Bush wants to make a "last big push" in Iraq with an extra 20,000 troops.

URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1948748,00.html

I also think I understand from postings here that we are switching our support to the Sunnis.

My conclusion is that therefore we are going to go after the Sadr and Badr shiite militias, and things are then going to get much, much worse on three levels.

At the Iraq level, I would expect that the shiite militias have learned a lot from Hezbollah. They will have serious defence in depth in their neighbourhoods and the weapons, tactics and capabilities to inflict serious casualties. We will also have an associated humanitarian tragedy if Bush goes ahead with this.

On a regional level, it appears that we will still not talk to Iran and Syria, and any move against these militias will ratchet up regional tension with Iran. I expect that if the Iranians weren't helping the militias before, they will be now.

I would also think the logical next step, win or lose, is going to be to bomb Iran. If we take major casualties Iran will be blamed. If we neutralise them, well, what possible ill effects will there be if we bomb Iran?

I expect that the Democrats will again be totally spineless. The new leader - Hoyer, is totally and completel;y in the pocket of AIPAC. Israel will continue to dictate our middle east policy to us. People will eventually work this out, but not soon enough I fear.

On a world level, I still don't think that enough people understand that we are meddling with an unexploded bomb (no pun intended). If the middle east goes up, I don't believe the American economy will withstand the pressure, and we will finally end up a pariah state (perhaps even "Balkanised") along with Israel, in a world now dominated by Europe and China.


"and we will finally end up a pariah state (perhaps even "Balkanised") along with Israel, in a world now dominated by Europe and China."

Why would that be so terrible Walrus?


Walrus, I think the opposite is what their "tilting" plan is about. Weigh in on the side of the Shia and let them defeat the Sunni insurgency.

See the oped by Laura Rozen today in the LA Times. Unleash the Shiites

Now that would I suppose accrue to the benefit of Iran and against the Saudi interests. What a tangled web we weave. But there seems very little doubt that our ME policy runs through Jerusalem irrespective of which party "runs" things.


Many of the questions and speculation raised in various posts are answered by Tom Engelhardt in his latest Tomgram at :


It's very depressing, but realistic. Check it out.

John in LA

In surveying my NeoCon chums over the last few days I cannot say that I am at all optimistic about the ISG. Their call: the election was good news, because it gave the Democrats 50% ownership of the Iraq project.

So, there you have it. They will continue to let Americans die and pour money into the sand in Iraq, to save face for George Bush. And then, will give the Democrats 50% of the blame for historical purposes.

I think that this well suits the Beverly Hills Democratic agenda.

Let's remember, please. This war was Israel's idea. Filtered through the Project for a New "American" Century.

It was a vast miscalculation - an Israeli miscalculation. That the greatest threat to Israel was a Stalinist mid-20th century secular dictatorship.

I think we all now know that the "threat" , such as it is, is from non-State actors. And yet we billigerently use our "State" to bludgeon civilian neighborhoods and fill Arab emergency rooms.

Difficult to imagine the idea of a bunch of 70+ (Baker is 78!) white men from the American provinces declaring to the Iraqis how they should structure their country.

Laughable, were it not so sad for the familites of American reservists dying for nothing in Iraq.

W. Patrick Lang

LA John

You are right, but as a rep of what John Ford called "the .50 cents a day Regulars in dirty shirt blue" I would remind that, they too, bleed. pl

John in LA


I meant no disprespect whatsoever to the regular army. I merely cited the reserves to underscore the totally inappropriate use of our military to enforce the controlled self-destruction of a totally foreign, alien, distant nation.

Reservists? Out there? Why don't we melt down most of Lockheed and Boeing's multibillion dollar platforms (designed for killing armies and buildings) and built out a vast Special Forces (designed to ferret out irregulars and win hearts and minds?

My dad was with the Green Berets in the central highlands in '64, training montagnards, and he loved it.

He went back in '68, buried inside a giant industrial base in the Mekong Delta (9th Infantry Division?) and felt, very strongly, that the war - and opportunity of that earlier effort - had been squandered.


It is not generally appreciated how severely the Iran-Iraq impacted the combatant societies. Iraq won but at a great cost; it's been compared with the impact of WWI on the French; their conscript army returned weary and rebellious. In Iran it produced a martyrdom obsessed generation of Trenchocrats that is now politically of age and set on restoring the Persian Imperium.

In 92 the Iraqi army suffered a crushing defeat that ended in a traumatic Iranian backed rising in the Shi'a South. This left Saddam with a wrecked country that he controlled not just with brute force but by exploiting tribal and ethnic divisions to stop any viable power block emerging to challenge him. Iraq was further damaged by a decade of sanctions that impoverished the country and wrecked its infrastructure. 21st century Iraq did not remotely resemble the optimistic modernizing country that the Pentagons pet exiles left in the 70s.

Against this dark background we cake-walked merrily into Baghdad. This was never a promising venture. Fortune will not forgive such a foolish choice of theater.

etuska sieben

Thanks to everyone for the informative posts and links. I'm back to the original subject, with a question about military personnel and their reponsibility being to the established policy, rather than trying to change it. I was disconcerted by the change I saw in General Abizaid at the recent Armed Services Committee hearing. In previous appearances, particularly when he first went in, he was utterly composed and confident; obviously a very competent and bright man, certainly a General who was prepared for the mission and could accomplish it. At the latest hearing, he just wasn't the same person. Did he have a bad day? Am I overly imaginative? Am I looking at a General who either doesn't feel his mission is clearly defined anymore, or one who feels that he doesn't have what he needs to accomplish it? I saw him only when some Democrats were grilling him rather severely, but he seems tough enough to deal with a little tough questioning from Congress people. I admire General Abizaid, and am just rather baffled by this last appearance.

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