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11 January 2007

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Michael

Given the history between Shia and Sunnis (and Kurds) - I think its safe to say the Shia will work alongside the US troops - but only hard and long enough to convince the US to leave Iraq. Once that happens, the real bloodletting will begin.

What a mess.. how could 'we' have let it go this far, and let it get this out of control?

Hal Grossman

Yes, Maliki is beholden to Moqtada el-Sadr. That's been clear for a long time.

So I am still confused about whether Bush intends to send troops into Sadr City or not. (Clearly Maliki is against.)

The Kagan/AEI surge plan was about sending troops into Sunni and mixed neighborhoods, not into Sadr City. Sadr City has 2.8 million people, I've read. The recent Army counterinsurgency manual calls for 2 troops per 100 population -- that would be 56,000.

We're way short.

wnynot

It still amazes me that after four years, nobody in the military is willing to stand up and shout down this continued insanity. Can't we get anybody to show some backbone?

We have no allies to work with in Iraq! Nobody is on our side!

Not the Sunnis who want their power back. Not Maliki who owes his power to Sadr. Not Hakim who is backed by the Iranians. Not Sadr wo wants the power long sought by his family's followers.

What does it take for the obvious to become so. SCREEEEEEAMMMM!!!!!

Pat, I'm sure you've mentioned it before, but why don't the seemingly sensible military men we have step up to the plate. They promised after Vietnam it wouldn't happen again. WHY?

mlaw230

Col. : Please confrim that it is time to panic about the coming hostilities with Iran.

We have not withdrawn apparent authority claimed by the President in the AUMF, the forces are moving into position, and th eDecider gives all appearances of being a River boat gambler down to his last hand.

Am I over reacting, or is there every reason to believe that there are several hundred thousand people alive in Iran who are unlikely to be so in a year's time, plus a heck of lot of Americans. Please tell me I am wrong.

John in LA

Read "Fiasco" over the weekend and thought it basically a clip job. He totally lets Israel off the hook - in my recollection he never mentions the name of the country. Interesting, given that all our sweep and torture tactics, and our use of kidnapping and hostage-taking (which he does describe in some depth) are lifted straight from the Israelis, that Israeli agents were in Iraq conducting advisory missions and supervising torture and that the authors of the plan were all Israeli lobbyists. He never mentions this document:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Clean_Break:_A_New_Strategy_for_Securing_the_Realm

....despite the fact that it is the #1 source of our policy and that several of its authors were in the Defense Department running its disinformation campaign aimed at our Congress and at our people.

He never mentions that Paul Bremer was President of Henry Kissinger Associates -- for a decade. He never nails down the source of Bremer's CPA order to disband the Iraqi military. The single greatest strategic disaster of the campaign. He mentions it, but never nails it down. Shocking lapse. Even more shocking that people are taking the book seriously

While the book ably documents the military fiasco (again, it's basically a clip job), his acrobatic avoidance of Israel and its role in driving the Iraq policy make it wholly worthless.

What the book does make totally clear is that by invading the neighborhoods, kicking in doors and arresting thousands of Iraqis, we turned the quick victory into a classic, failed neocolonial insurgency war. And this is precisely what Bush proposed to do now - send 20k people into the neighborhoods for house-to-house fighting.

This is 100% what the insurgents and the Israelis want -- to lure hapless US soldiers into an urban kill box and slaughter them.

walrus

Once again Col. Lang, you have hit the nail on the head.

I would also like to know your thoughts on Bush's plans for Syria and Iran, for it appears that they are very much on Bush's radar now.

My limited understanding is that both Syria and Iran have been somewhat cooperative in securing their borders with Iraq and are not actively supplying weapons to insurgents.

There would be a flow of people and weaponry because tribal boundaries cross the borders and hey, we can't even secure the Mexican border!

However the weapons that flow seem to me to be low level stuff. I would expect that if Iran and Syria really tried to help the insurgents at an "official" level, we would start to see more sophisticated stuff in the hands of the insurgents, in particular, Russian or Chinese MANPADS and anti tank fire and forget rounds.

I still think we should be talking honeyed words to Iran and Syria because they can generate more trouble for us in the Middle East than we can for them. By antagonising them Bush is having another "bring it on" moment.

What are your thoughts?

zanzibar

This is what I don't get - the Decider and his "rasputin" are running the show completely. They seem very close to Bandar and the Saudi royal family on a personal and financial level. Yet they are working for the Shia and their Iranian allies by beating up the Iraqi Sunni who the Saudi's ostensibly support. Anyone here understand what this is about?

I also gather from reading various news reports that the US forces are primarily going to clear Sunni areas in Baghdad like the recent attack on Haifa St while Maliki's "army" is supposed to clear Shia areas. So we know who is going to get their head banged!

What is the real story here??

meletius

It doesn't sound like WE'RE going into Sadr City--that's the "Iraqi Army's" job, a mission which will not actually be undertaken.

So is Bush's strategy that the shi'a will isolate the sunnis and we massacre them on the alter of the New Iraq?

How's that going to go over to the west of Iraq?

MarcLord

Walrus,

re: "I still think we should be talking honeyed words to Iran and Syria because they can generate more trouble for us in the Middle East than we can for them. By antagonising them Bush is having another "bring it on" moment."

The Bush Admin doesn't exactly respond in moderation. Iran sending MANPADS into Iraq, Iran cutting the Straits of Hormuz oil express, Iran farting in church, it's all nuclear casus belli to them. It's about who's in charge, about managing threat perceptions to maintain domestic momentum, and if they talk to Iran and Syria, it's an admission of not being "in charge" as defined by BushCo and the Cheneyettes.

In Bush World, nuclear war is a more realistic option than instituting the draft.

Chris Marlowe

Sidney Blumenthal has written an excellent article on Rice's role in this whole mess and American "diplomacy" called Shuttle Without Diplomacy. (Under the Bush administration, American diplomacy is an oxymoron.)

http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2007/01/10/condi_rice/

MarcLord

Video at link below of what looks like Afghan insurgents (dressed in camo) downing an Apache with a shoulder-fired SAM. Clearest view of the SAM launcher is at 1:13-1:15 in the video. What is the most likely provenance of the weapon?

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=bb95ea4ef3

webley webster

This is your best work ever.

What was Allawi doing in Turkey?

VietnamVet

Colonel you were involved with Civil Action Programs; does Bush's plan have snowball's chance in hell of succeeding?

ABC News indicates that Baghdad will be split into 9 sections. Iraqi and US troops will be housed in "joint security stations" scattered throughout the neighborhoods. Once cleared, the sections will require biometric cards for entry or exit; Concentration Camps on the cheap. With Shiite aid, if Sunni sections are cleared, it is ethnic cleansing. If the Mahdi Militia is attacked, Shiite aid will evaporate and the USA will be fighting both branches of Islam.

In short order, the zones around the security stations will become free fire zones. In Ramadi, the troopers can only get into forward operating bases at night. The day belongs to the Insurgents.

Patrols into to the slums will be sniped. Counter fire strikes will be called in creating vast piles of rubble in front of Al Jazerra's cameras. Sooner or later one of the "stations" will be overrun.

The only logical purpose seems to be destroying Baghdad to provoke retaliation to get the draft and the green light to invade Syria and Iran.

I'm way too old for all of this but nobody is young enough to face the hell that Baghdad will become.

James Pratt

Somewhere in Qom or Tehran,Iran
the real allies of Maliki, Jaafari and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim are speaking enthusiastically of Fred Kagan and Bill Kristol.
Sometime in the next decade they will agree that the Sunni Arab population in Iraq has been reduced to a manageable number and it will be time to pull the plug on Iraqi Shia support for the Americans. In the meantime,
somewhere in Bhagdad and Boise, ar-Ramadi and Alabama others will be crying. Too many others crying.

ali

Artfully applied counterinsurgency doctrine hasn't worked in Basra and the Brit's are very good at it.

The politics is absolutely fatal. Maliki is not going to survive any attempt to take out Al Sadr even if al-Hakim gives it his blessing. The confrontation at Najaf, when we "disarmed" the Mehdi army, destroyed what little popular support Allawi had and boosted Al Sadr to effective cabinet rank. They must know this. I wonder how long it will take before we see our first Iraqi Brigade mutiny.

All that puff about Baker-Hamilton is looking so foolish now. The friends of Poppy can't even apply the brakes let alone get George to swerve. He's just given them the finger and put the pedal to the metal.

I was listening to Bob Baer on the Ian Masters Podcast last night. Bob is not optimistic. Predicting that the Iraq war will escalate and expand to Iran. The Democrats are terrified that they'll be cast as traitors if they use their feeble constitutional power to avert ever greater disaster so they will do little more than whine from their trap. Its all down to the military, unconstitutionally, to refuse to participate in further madness.

We have yet to see one public resignation from a senior US officer; Bob is dreaming there but not entirely wrong. Bush has the timid Dems frozen in his headlights and will make electoral road kill out of them if they don't get out of his unswerving way. They are liable to end up under his wheels in 08 anyway. By then nemesis will be upon us and a Vietnam like withdrawal from the widening carnage will have begun seeming like a happy pipe dream.

It seems the Brits, having demolished the Police Station that housed the aptly named Serious Crimes Unit are intent on declaring victory in Basra and sneaking away from the whole mess.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/world/europe/11cnd-britain.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Barry

Posted by: wnynot
: "Pat, I'm sure you've mentioned it before, but why don't the seemingly sensible military men we have step up to the plate. They promised after Vietnam it wouldn't happen again. WHY?"

A) Because of a long tradition of taking orders.

B) Because those who do so, even if they did it properly by first retiring, would trash their post-retirement careers in the military-industrial complex.

C) Because anybody who makes general ain't gonna flinch from a hard job, and has the ego to think that they can do it.

D) Because most who make general are ambitious first, last and always, and will screw the troops and the country if need be.

E) Because most of those who made those statements after Vietnam were retired, and all were talking about what others should have done, which is easy. It's not surprising that they didn't do it themselves.

Leigh

If Saddam was tried, convicted and hanged for killing less than 200 Iraqis because of a failed attempted assassination on his life, then what should the punishment be for Bush/Cheney/Rove/Rice et al for killing several hundred thousand Iraqis because of a failed attempt on his father's life?

BTW, yours is the only site that I know of that combines policy, strategy, intelligence with...poetry! Congratulations, I wouldn't miss a day of it.

jonst

I'll give you 20-1 odds that not a single dollar, not one of the Civil Action money, not gets to the people who need it...

Our most fundamental problems are not in Iraq or the ME anymore. They are in America. How did the nation get to this point? How do we get out of it?

Michael Singer

Dear Pat,
I was a bit suprised that you didn't mention King George's threat to Iran. As you have pointed out to us, he has put an admiral in charge of all combat operations in the region. Last night he ordered a second naval carrier task force into the neighborhood allegedly to show our allies in the region that we are serious about protecting them when or if all hell brakes loose. John Kerry today said on CNN there is nothing wrong with "hot pursuit" of Iranians if they are caught in Iraq. According to the London Sunday Times, the Israeli AF is now conducting exercises to prepare for a strike at Iranian nuclear facilities with nuclear tipped bunker buster bombs. Questions arise: Is Bush trying to distract Americans from one war by threatening to start another or just confuse or overwhelm them with ever more violence? If the Iranians really feel threatened, could they facilitate another 'terrorist' attack against the US? Would such an attack help the Republicans win in '08? Would it be the only way they could win in '08? Would the Israelis strike without our permission? They do believe a nuclear Iran is an existential threat.

I hope Jim Webb doesn't pair up with Hillary.Hillay has shown us her profoundly calculating method: she waits till after the speech and after she hears the negative Democrat reaction and that of more Republican senators who are jumping ship before she makes any statement and then all she says is she can't back Bush on the war! Is that all there is to say? Where was she last night? Did anyone see or hear her? Did she talk to the media? She had her office release a statement. Is this leadership? She is the leading contender for the Democrat nomination and she was nowhere to be found.Too little and too late. Pathetic.
Finally, to "John in LA": Please tell me if you can, why would the Israelis want American soldiers dead in Iraq? What logic gets you to that place? I really would like to know. Is everything Bush has done really the fault of the Israelis?

Michael Singer

Chris Marlowe

BBC has an article about what the Iraqis think of the surge; the Shias, including Maliki, don't want it and think it will be a disaster, but some Sunnis are for it, thinking that it will bring protection from ethnic cleansing.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6252123.stm

Mike G

All the while that the President has been planning and has finally announced his new surge aka escalation policy over there in the USA, here in the UK there has been a policy of steadily reducing the number of troops committed to the military control of Basra and the South of Iraq. There is talk that by the middle of summer the Brits will hand over full control of Basra to the Iraqi authorities and that our total number of troops will amount to no more than 3000, while correspondingly more will be sent to Afghanistan. But I should have thought that there is a risk that, if the Americans send in their 20000 trops and attack the Mahdi army and Sadr City, the Shia in the south will escalate their own levels of anti-coalition activities, in which case 3000, or even the 7000 British troops currently there would be woefully inadequate to control the situation, in which case the Americans would find that they have another three or four provinces to put under military control. The south after all is the route along which so many military supplies for Baghdad and the north follow. Have the Americans considered whether they have sufficient reserve ground forces to cope with that possible scenario?

Tony Blair has done his usual roll-over-and-tickle-my-tummy-I'm-your-faithful-poodle-Uncle-George act by expressing his full support for Mr Bush's new policy. Paradoxically, he has the rather grudging support of his own left wing and supposedly socialist Labour Party - roughly the equivalent of America's Democrats, while the Conservatives (=Republicans) - traditionally steadfast in their support of any policy decision coming from Washington - the Conservatives have indicated their belief that the surge is unwise and highly likely to end in failure. Theoretically, it is far easier for a British Prime Minister to be removed from Downing Street than for a President to be got out of the White House. But Blair still manages to continue in office and dominates the political scene over here, even though he is about the least popular PM this country has had since probably before the Second War. I suspect he is hoping - indeed assuming - that the surge policy will be blessed with success so that he will be able to step down leaving a glorious legacy of victory and democracy in Iraq. If the policy fails - maybe - and hopefully - he will still step down; then Bush will be entirely alone on the world stage (other than Olmert I suppose).

Ian Whitchurch

I agree that the Civic Action compnent is a good idea. But it doesnt mix with troop rotation.

Let me give you an example - Frank Gaffney's 2003 article here

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=10060

It's dated and wrong and of the 'but we're really winning' school, but concentrate on the prescient para

"It likely will prove calamitous if new projects like the Mosul cement factory are not nurtured in the future and grounds thus denied for hope of further progress - particularly with respect to the employment of more and more Iraqis and the improvement of their quality of life. Even worse would be for projects already launched to lose their funding, thereby underminingthe trust in America being so painstakingly restored after our failure to eliminate Saddam twelve years before."

Well, yeah, they did lose their funding, because (a) if you rotate troops when the COmmander leaves, so does the supporter of the pet projects, and (b) as the GWB administration is inept, it forgot to set up a working structure that could implement policy across time (we call these structures 'bureacracies' and a bloke called Max Weber wrote about them).

What steps is the Bush Administration taking to ensure the same thing wont happen again ?

Cloned Poster

Regarding the link of a SAM downing a heli posted by Marclord above.

Why has Putin such a hard-on with gas supplies to Europe at the moment?

The Cold War is swinging big time in Russia's favour.

Payback is a bitch.

W. Patrick Lang

Leigh

One of the nicer things said. I will put up something poetic. pl

ali

Last year the serving commander of the British Army told the press No 10 is losing the war in Afghanistan by staying the course in Iraq.

There followed some brief huffing and puffing in parliament. Serving soldiers are not meant to do this in the British system, it is bad form. In practice senior officers like senior civil servants do it all the time.

Sir Richard Dannatt is still in his job and thought to be a fine chap for his well calculated outburst. It helped that he has the entire officer corps behind him and was very obviously right.

The head of CENTCOM is not at liberty to do the same thing. The US military is by tradition and over respected law the absolute servant of the elected government. As I understand it a US service man has the right to complain to his congressman and that is about it, if you ignore international law which we can take as read these days. The reticence of even retired officers is notable. They are slaves to a distinctly secondary virtue.

Let us talk of honor, patriotism and dereliction of duty confident that it won't lead us to storm the Fox News studio or misuse a football stadium.

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