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04 June 2007

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VietnamVet

Colonel,
It's pounding your head against the wall time.

After four years and three tours, you'd think that the officers and troops would get it. Iraqis hate their foreign overlords. Reported three years ago; Sunnis and Shi'ites are united in believing that America and "the Jews" are responsible for the violence, because of the belief that America wants to remain in Iraq and needs a pretext, hence it will provoke a civil war. The Jews are blamed for everything, because they're Jews.

Shi'ite Iraqi police surreptitiously planting bombs is inevitable. They want the invaders gone. If American troops stop ethnically cleansing the Sunni or attack the Shi'ite militia, all hell will break lose.

Americans cannot see the building catastrophe in Iraq unless they read between the lines in the corporate media propaganda.

JfM

“We were way too optimistic.” Talk about an understatement! And, mon general, we’re supposed to be surprised that the surge is coming short? “Hurry, somebody…run around and put more lipstick on the pig!”

Col Lang, I do contest your observation, “Yes, Kevin, the war is a contest of wills. Having said that, it is also true that American popular support for the war will not continue if the methods being used do not appear to be effective.” There is NO popular support. It has virtually evaporated with the remaining charade only held together by lack of stomach to do what is needed, arrogance, and blind babble from the Commander dude. Shame on our politicians-all of them, and shame on us for not falling out into the streets and raising holy hell for the sun coming up on one more day of this obscenity.

I do understand all too well, however, how this travail rolls on. Ninety-nine percent plus of the US public have NO stake or investment in this war. The burden is only borne by the servicemen and women and their families…period. While I’m confidant the overwhelming majority of the American public could probably name the last American Idol, I am even more sure that few if any could find Al Anbar on a map or name three major US Brigade-size units deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s true what young Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville said so long ago, “A democracy gets the kind of government it deserves.”

W. Patrick Lang

JfM

I don't know where you live, but I run into a lot of people in my part of the cuontry who still cling to this war. I have had pwoplw who should know better insist that "those WMDs are out there. They just have not been found yet.."

No. september will do it, for the great majority. pl

TJ Snodgrass II

Yes, and as I recall, it was Mr. Petreaus who was responsible for training and equipping the Iraqi security forces before his little sabatical at Ft Leavenworth...

zanzibar

The surge will be made to look good with the obligatory "progress" in the reports coming from Gen. Petraeus et al in Sept to keep the surge going for another 6-9 months. They'll have all the obvious outs also - "we can't say for sure but things are looking up and we need another 6-9 months to know for sure."

Enough "progress" will be reported by Sept to keep most of the Repubs on board and the Commander Guy will maintain the PR that has worked so well when playing with the Dems in Congress.

We may just need to come to terms that this is going to be a multi-decade occupation and neither the Decider or Congressional Repubs or Dems or the next President is going to change the equation that much. We will have some tinkering around the edges but basically it will be more of the same for a long time. Unless the American people wake up from their general apathy and directly challenge the politicians in a more direct manner.

Jim Price

Col,
It looks as if the Neo-Cons "flypaper theory" is working. Only in reverse. We're spending a billion and a half dollars a week so that they can kill our soldiers there instead of having to come here.

PSD

Col., I think the third of the country who still support the war must live in your part of the world.....they certainly don't live out west; most of the western cowboys who were war-happy are now war-exhausted (even those strange Texans are having a change of heart according to my Texas friends). They for the most part recognize the BS, but it's just hard for them to accept how fully they've been duped by Geo., Dick, and their pals. I think come September, the unhappy 2/3 of the nation are going to start getting more and more vocal. At least, I hope so!

jonst

Pl,

I assume the Kevin you refer to is the same Kevin who wrote this sentence:
Do not be derailed by an increase in American KIAs; coalition casualties do not mean squat<<<

They don't "mean squat"? They don't "mean squat?". Hmmmm. An interesting, and, one might hope, unique, perspective. And people wonder how we got in this mess. This Kevin, et al, will have us 'cash checks' forever just to prove we have the ability to do so.

Sid3

Perhaps it's time to quote Martin Van Creveld -- an Israeli who certainly has the talent to look over the horizon. 'Tis tragic that he is ignored by Israelis (and Americans)-- much to their (our) peril.
Here speaketh Van Creveld in Nov. 05:
"For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president’s men. If convicted, they’ll have plenty of time to mull over their sins."

http://www.forward.com/articles/costly-withdrawal-is-the-price-to-be-paid-for-a-fo/

Sid

Got A Watch

No matter how they try to dress it up, Washington was warned before invading Iraq how it could all go wrong, they just chose to put on the rose-colored glasses and invade anyway:
"Before War, CIA Warned of Negative Outcomes
Analysts in 2002 Described Worst-Case Scenarios, Including Anarchy in Iraq, Global Antipathy to U.S"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/02/AR2007060200905_pf.html

"By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 3, 2007

On Aug. 13, 2002, the CIA completed a classified, six-page intelligence analysis that described the worst scenarios that could arise after a U.S.-led removal of Saddam Hussein: anarchy and territorial breakup in Iraq, a surge of global terrorism, and a deepening of Islamic antipathy toward the United States.....

"We had no way of knowing then how the situation on the ground in Iraq would evolve."

Nor, he (Tenet) adds, was the CIA privy to subsequent administration actions in Iraq "that would help make many of these worst-case scenarios almost inevitable."

I'd say that it was "almost inevitable" indeed.

Michale Lind raises the larger strategic question of the post-Iraq debacle:

"Beyond American Hegemony"
http://www.newamerica.net/publications/articles/2007/beyond_american_hegemony_5381

"If the Iraq War is seen as merely a bad application of a fundamentally sound U.S. grand strategy of hegemony, the United States will set itself up for other self-inflicted disasters in the future."

The strategists who read no strategic history are doomed to repeat it.

Steve

World conventional oil production has been flat sice 5\2005. Iraq is sitting on top of the largest light sweet proven crude reserves on the planet. Under "stable" conditions, Iraq is capable of 5-7 MBD production. All major private oil companies are seeing there reserves decline without any decent prospects other than Iraq. The empire will NOT let go of this vital prize period! We are in this deal to the bitter end regardless of "public" opinion. One event alone will change "public" opinion on a dime. Gas lines anyone?

Steve

World conventional oil production has been flat sice 5\2005. Iraq is sitting on top of the largest light sweet crude reserves on the planet. Under "stable" conditions, Iraq is capable of 5-7 MBD production. All major private oil companies are seeing there reserves decline without any decent prospects other than Iraq. The empire will NOT let go of this vital prize period! We are in this deal to the bitter end regardless of "public" opinion. Public opinion can turn on a dime...Gas lines anyone?

MAsif

It could have been a wonderful foreign policy implementation: a grateful country in middle-east with plenty of oil, a win-win situation for both people, except the Americans were poisoned by the 911 events and their own hatreds and prejudices came to surface in Iraq. One common thread that can be seen through most of US actions in Iraq has been primal arrogance and visceral hate of all things Islamic. It wont be too long before US comes to its senses, no less than by men in sandels, and learn to live with the fact that the energy resources are limited and must be shared. Yes, US prosperity is fundamental but so is other people's right to retaliate for the sake of their own prosperity. A very bold foreign policy act by a group of people who were not up to the task. And then we have people of Iraq, or at least a slice of the population, who are going to show the US the limit of conventional weapons technology. Other than all out genocide, this project is finished. US military can always pat itself on the back by reminding people that it did not use all the arrows in its quiver. Of course nuclear option is always there.

stanley Henning

Unfortunately, Iraq provides us with one of the best possible examples of the worst possible approach to going to war on this planet. If we don't learn from this excruciating experience then our wonderful nation will truly become a has-been and, whether or not we are willing to face it, we are already mighty close to that point right now.

Our great leader where the buck ostensibly should stop is a rumble seat good old boy manipulated by a vicious and ignorant house of horrors gang of bullying white collar (as distinguished from the common brand, but not deserving the appellation of "intellectual") thugs. The lesson here is, the American people get who they vote for (ostensibly), including all the carry on baggage (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, and peripheral dragonfly Perle, among the most instrumental in precipitating disaster).

Decisions to go to war must NEVER be done at the drop of a hat. They are matters of grave importance, involving life and death and the rise and fall of nations.

Intelligence must ALWAYS be carefully scrutinized and questioned in face-to-face sessions that include NOT just the people whose agendas are likely to cloud the facts, but the analysts, who personally work the assessments. The Battleship Maine and Mayaguez are two good past examples of failure to do this, but Iraq's WMD's provide one of the best bad examples in all world history.

Even after considering intelligence on ostensible key issues there are other serious determinants that may, in the overall picture, be just as important -- issues that can determine overall success or failure and that involve substantive prior planning. Some examples have been the precipitate effort to democratize the undemocratic, tribal makeup of the Iraqi population and the disbandment of the Iraqi army, which has been a significant factor in the ongoing insurgency/civil war (had we kept the army, AQ might have been snuffed out early on and the Mahdi militias might have been better kept at bay).

Unfortunately, even bigger problems lie in our own back yard -- leadership issues that allowed and even ensured that all this would transpire in the first place - arrogant, bullying key civilian leaders and excessively subservient, toadying military "leaders" and lesser civilian officials (Colin Powell belongs here because of his acculturation in the military can-do, yes sir three bags full environment. He is sadly accompanied by the lesser likes of George Tenet).

It may even be that the worst is yet to come from all this -- America's image is clearly tarnished in perhaps more ways than we have even considered to date. Our technologically superior military second to none has revealed our nation's achilles heal -- the need for, and lack of, human versus high tech solutions. Furthermore, the blood, sweat, and treasure we have dumped into this garbage pit may leave us more vulnerable to greater potential threats around the world.

Personally, I consider the most serious issue to come out of all this to be lack of sound leadership, and I think it is a reflection of the spoiled nature of our body politic at this time in history and the failure of our educational philosophy as relates to the concerns of citizenship and all it should include.

Montag

The tragedy of the Roman general Varus and the Teutoburger Wald massacre is that he trusted his German auxiliary troops to an unhealthy extent. All colonial or neo-colonial occupations must rely upon native troops. Unfortunately, these troops always have their own agendas, which are often at odds with the interests of the occupying power. Varus forgot that.

One wonders if the American people will have cause to emulate Caesar Augustus and bay, "George W. Bush, give us back our legions!"

walrus

With the greatest of respect, the full horror of what is going to happen to America is not yet apparent to Americans. There are dangerous assumptions being made.

Even among "liberals" there appears to be an assumption that the decision to leave Iraq is ours to make when the reality is that we may be forced out.

But worst of all, there is the assumption that after we leave, we can simply put our feet up and relax in front of the TV with a beer. Life is not ever going to return to a pre 911 "normal", thanks to irrevocable decisions taken by George W Bush, the worst of which will prove to be his decision to invade Iraq. These decisions have unleashed forces that will rearrange the middle east - and not in our favor.

I can understand the simplistic rationale for the invasion. We are past peak oil, according to a petrogeologist researcher I know. Saudi told us ten years ago they had 200 bn barrels of reserves. In the last ten years they have pumped 100 bn barrels (or whatever) yet their official position is that their reserves are unchanged. There is more oil out there I know, my friend tells me that everyone knows roughly where it is, but it is going to be progressively more expensive to extract.

Demand for oil is increasing as China and India develop. The American Empire runs on oil, in the same way that the Roman empire, at its core, ran on wheat imported from Egypt. When the supply fails, so does the empire.

Given the paucity of the American economy, America simply may not even be able to pay the price demanded for oil in the future since the Chinese, Indians and smarter people are using oil to produce tradeable goods, not to drive down to the shopping mall.

So after Iraq what? It's anyone's guess who will control Iraq's oilfields. It's anyones guess what Al Qaeeda, perhaps strengthened and educated in Iraq, will do in Saudi Arabia, and it's anyone's guess what Iran, as the regions leading power, will do. "Gas lines?" indeed!

In the face of the knowledge of declining oil availability and higher prices, what would a prudent American Government have done, starting perhaps fifteen years ago? It's pretty obvious, renewable energy sources, higher taxes to force people into smaller cars, higher and mandatory targets for energy efficiency in homes, nuclear energy and a vastly expanded electrically powered public transport system.

Where is the intercity network of 300 mph trains? Is anyone seriously trying to imagine life without oil in America? It would appear that the vested interests that own the American Government, Democratic or Republican, will see to it that nothing happens, and when the crunch comes, they will get into their yachts and sail to more sensible climes, leaving the empire to tear itself apart.

Sorry for the Jeremiad, but ferchrissake I wish people would wise up about whats being done to them. Every time I see a Dodge Ram V10 pickup, I want to puke.

jamzo

i suspect the public debate on iraq has been reframed

the "surge" has been replaced with "korea-like" long-term bases which have been being built without discussion by media or congress (could be nominated for world's best kept non-secret"

how will "permanent american bases in iraq" be perceived by regional players?

don't the "shia" fears of sunni governments and israel work against a regional accomodation?
even

john in the boro

This is an exceedingly grim thread. I am struck by the pervasive gloom with which Bush has engulfed our nation. The question, for me, is whether the defective policies over the past six years are structural or individual or, perhaps, are a perfect storm of the worse of both. I think this important as many embrace the assumption that a change of leadership will make a real difference. Seems to me that the iron triangle (Congress-industry-military) is bipartisan, the foreign policy establishment differs more on means than on ends (X will do a better job than Y), and equal justice before the law seems relative (as revealed in the long series of crime-gates).

I have held and continue to hold the opinion that President Bush will push, pull, drag, or kick Iraq past the finish line—January 20, 2009—no matter what he has to say or do, or, what he has to have others say or do. If, in my opinion, he can hang on until the primaries early next year, he can pull his head back into the shell. Surge results have crept from early summer to early fall to late in the year and beyond. Moreover, his popularity looks as if it will continue to tank no matter what he does. So, he just seems to want to postpone a day of reckoning until after the primary season begins. Of course, the Republican Party risks a good old fashioned drubbing, but at least he can say he didn’t pull the plug on poor old comatose Iraq.

A regional solution, rationally, might help us out of this quagmire. If only someone with gravitas could step forward for the good of the nation. Sorry, fell asleep for a minute and remembered the argument for putting Cheney on the ticket in 2000.

robt willmann

One of the strangest bits of fiction continuously spoken is that the U.S. needs to train Iraqi security forces.

Back when the Baath Party was well underway in Iraq, it received advice from the Stasi, which was East Germany's Department of Homeland Security. And the contact person in the Baath Party for this help and training was none other than Saddam Hussein.

The East German Stasi was known as one of the most pervasive internal security departments of modern times. Thus, the Iraqis, at least in the form of the Baath Party main structure, know as much about ``security'' as anyone in the whole wide world. Put another way, there is not any "security training" that the U.S. can give the Iraqis that they don't already know.

The Iraqis are aware that certain U.S. military bases in Iraq sure look like they are designed to be permanent. And the so-called U.S. Embassy, which is to become the largest in the world, is not fooling anybody about what it really is.

There is broad and deep opposition to the Iraq war among "genuine" conservatives, including farmer and rancher types in Texas about which I have personal knowledge.

But since the executive branch of the federal government makes its decisions on what it can get away with, public opinion is not relevant, unless it translates into clear action by Congress. However, to date, Congress has done nothing and has fully funded the war through September, even though some Republicans lost elections last year. And the major broadcast and print media still support and deliberately promote the war and its real objectives.

This means that the U.S. soldiers and their families, and the taxpayers, will continue to suffer, because the Iraqi resistance will "surge" in its own way.

MarcLord

Dear Walrus-Jeremiah,

But don't you see? Technology will save us from Peak Oil, and nano-bots will be swimming in our bloodstreams repairing organs by 2030. (close sarcasm tag/)

I believe Cheney sold the Iraq-M.E. invasion to US elites as a way to defend against the growth of India and China, to hold them on a leash with locked-up oil. Unfortunately anybody with a map can see that the pipelines are the new trenchlines, and the Mid-East geography doesn't favor the US. Russia, India, Iran, China get to fight on the cheap. While we hollow out our domestic economy, they get stronger. When we can't hold onto the prize any longer, they can just waltz in and win contracts for the nearby oil. They'll be greeted with flowers and chocolates.

People in the US aren't connecting the dots between why the National Guard can't clean up a town in Kansas and why it can't clean up Anbar, Diyala, Baghdad. Here are some talking points for your war-supporting neighbors and acquaintances:

- the price of building materials is up 40% this year because Halliburton is buying them all up and using them on wasted aid for Iraq

- food is up so much because oil's up so much, and oil is up because the Bush Administration can't get it out like they promised

- the people in that tornado town in Kansas can't get help because all their National Guard equipment was sent to the Mid-East

Someone may try to argue the talking points above. Good. Let them. They're true enough, and I've actually heard the first point made by a former war supporter. They don't need to know how bad it's going to get. They just need to focus their anger on the right parties. I hope Pat is right about September.

Charles

Re: Steve

"The empire will NOT let go of this vital prize period! We are in this deal to the bitter end regardless of "public" opinion. Public opinion can turn on a dime...Gas lines anyone?"

Uh, Steve, there comes a time, recently popularly posited as the "tipping point" when things are no longer in the control of those who imagined they ever held the reins. It appears to me that your current government and any potential replacement are so venal, corrupt and incompetent that that point was reached long ago. Sadly, your population appears so insensate that only more consumption, and more enemies may sate or distract them respectively from what they don't even pay attention to in the first place. Lobsters in a pot indeed. So I'm with stanley henning above that "the worst is yet to come."

And from what is slowly penetrating the dim recesses of my thinker, it seems to me that WW IV is well and truly joined. After a the climax of the disaster in Iraq, and an interregnum of humiliating and pathetic self-absorbed American reflection during which none of the miscreants who brought us to this sorry pass is held accountable in any manner whatsoever, 'the West' will have to return to the region in force, and fight until the locals are exhausted, the jihadis destroyed, the Israelis chastened and America really learns just what the metes and bounds of 'self-interest' truly are.

After that, Africa will have to be repaired. After that, the limits of 'growth' and 'national sovereignty' will have to be worked out on a global scale, whatever the Indians Chinese and Big Oil may wish.

Of course any little thing may render even that impossible, and usher in some truly dark ages, periodically illuminated by various and sundry whackos armed with a little ingenuity, incandescent rage and nanotechnology.

It pains me to say this, because I'm an armchair warrior bleeding heart civil libertarian who is just now coming to understand that civil rights and democracy will take a back seat to cold blooded power politics driven by necessity rather than law or ideology. And it really f****n' pisses me off, because I see America and American Idol to blame way more than the clever little buggers who lashed together 9/11, while PNAC was hatched, Bush fantasized, Cheyney et al plotted and the Lobby metastasized.

We are Pogo, and Murphy is in charge. Thank my little pagan gods that I'm middle aged and don't have children, because I sure don't envy the next few generations. Never mind gas lines, think draft lines and food lines.

DH

MarcLord said: "- food is up so much because oil's up so much, and oil is up because the Bush Administration can't get it out like they promised"

That's what I don't understand about the threat to ivade Iran. It'll only make oil more scarce.

(Great piece, Jeremiah!)

Sid3

Don’t know if such is apropos in this thread, but here a few civilian questions posed to any military experts:

1. Are the tactics, tradition, history and strategic aims of the US Green Berets the same as those of the IDF?

2. If there is a difference, then does the pre-emptive attack on Iraq launched by the USG reflect more closely the thinking of the Green Berets or that of the IDF?

3. If the political leadership of the USG has abandoned the tradition of the USM and Green Berets, then does such trigger a moral obligation within to speak out publicly? More provocatively, I suppose, I ask such a question with the following words of Sun Tzu in mind: “…if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight, even at the ruler’s biddings.”

Sid

Clifford Kiracofe

This is an excellent thread, bravo all. Regional solution is the way to go for sure but...

1.Will The Decider decide this.
2.Will the Explainer to the Decider (Condi) recommend this and insist on it over the "advice" of our Strangelove VP whose "precious bodily fluids" seem to be holding up so far with the stents.
3.Will the Explainer to the Explainer, Elliott Abrams, the Neocon prince, sign off and explain it to Condi?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliott_Abrams
http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/969
4. Will the Counsellor to the Explainer to the Decider (Elliot Cohen) counsel this to Condi?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliot_A._Cohen
http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/1100

It seems to me that major powers/great powers can impact positively or negatively on regional matters. For example, is it within Russia's power to hinder or to help on Iraq? Is Putin disposed to help given the current neo-Cold War being launched by Washington?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/russia/article/0,,2095534,00.html
and the drivel from the CFR
http://www.cfr.org/publication/9997/

Is the US engaged in serious diplomacy with Iran and Syria at this time? Or are we just in a Rovian perception management mode for the masses?

MAsif, your comment "One common thread that can be seen through most of US actions in Iraq has been primal arrogance and visceral hate of all things Islamic" rightly applies, I think, to the Neocons and their ilk. I do not think that most Americans feel this way, with the exception of some Fundamentalist white trash. There was a time two centuries ago, as I have noted on other threads, that these United States signed a treaty with Tunis the first three words of which being "God is infinite." Our very first foreign friend, aside from the French, was Morocco and George Washington himself corresponded with the Muslim ruler there. Did we not constructively engage the Muslim world, Sunni and Shia, setting up educational institutions, charitable works, and mutually beneficial commerce when the Euros were imperializing away back in the 19th century? Since 1948, there have been problems, certainly.

jr786

MarcLord writes:

the people in that tornado town in Kansas can't get help because all their National Guard equipment was sent to the Mid-East

And their little dog, too.

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