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08 July 2007


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frank durkee

the option to withdraw to closeby countries is similiar to the one retired LtG Odom has been pushing for at least three years. Of course the critical issue if we move into Kurdish territory is how to deal with the Turkish concern about kurdish terrorists operatiing from with the Iraqui Kurdish area. Unless the US secures both the border and the pipeline we will still be caught in the middle. Momentum id clearly moving in the direction the Col. has been pushing. Late last week Kissinger had an article in the International Herald Tribune that mirrored much of PL's earlier proposals. to me the critical key is what, if any, carrot can be provided for the Sunnis to keep them from embracing volence toward the rest of Iraq. It will take tough nuanced and clear diplomacy for the US to be any thing but the supplicant in this situation. the best outcome may be some stability and an operating concert to manage the new status quo, which will be dynamic and moving.

505th PIR

Well, the last of the surge troops deployed three weeks ago. I wonder what tune The Times will be singing come Sept. if Petraeus gains traction.

So the question is: If the politicians are at this moment in time waiving a white flag hedged in "I'm doing this for the troops" and man it is obvious that most of em are positioning themselves most advantageously for the election and the surge is making more than localized progress then is the Coalition force and the Iraqi's that have bought in being sold out on the brink of success however it has evolved to look like?

Maybe hammering and I mean now the gloves have come off, really hammering at the insurgency(s) is going to give the Iraqi govt and diaspora of centrist tribal militias a chance to build a confederacy of non-theocratic forces that can stave off an AQ or Iranian backed theocracy/competing regional theocracies.

Face it gang, whatever Iraq is going to look like it isn't going to be what the delusional White House Gang thought it would be but we can still avoid the abyss with a deft hand and liberal use of the big stick now "in country". Let AQ and Iranian backed militias get completely entrenched and the current situation will look like a Norman Rockwell painting by comparison.

I smell a mayor sell out. I am sooo sickened by the "wise old senior senators" and "retired general so and so on CNN who would serve his country far better by just shutting-up and being just that...retired". What do they really know. Speculators with faded credentials most of em.

However we got into this thing we are in it and it is not yet a lost cause however many folks say it is.

Colonal Lang, surely the officers running the show in Iraq have some optimistic thoughts on this on the QT? Surely there are some in the intelligence community who think that a favorable outcome is possible (I didn't say victory.) Do these voices not leak out? Do you see a scenario where Iraq does not turn into a feudal theocratic hate hole?

frank durkee

col. If we are not there or not that active, is it likely that the salifis and/or al queda will actually gain a genuine foot hold. that they could remain as spoilers is perhaps possible. Unlessm however there is a state collapse similiar to what occurred in Afganistan
after the Russian pull out, isn't as or more likely that the existing tribal forces will seek to consolidate ther power and/or turf. it would appear that the real extremist's are tolerable only as they actively attack us or shites in some areas and sunnis in other areas. Won't both band to oppose them and to drive them out of their areas of influence?


"the surge beginning to take traction"

"all the naysayers will wind up with egg on their face"

the stab in the back, the betrayal.

there are some that still believe in the WMD bullcrap.

what is the def'n of not being square with reality. Repeating the same acts with the expectation of different results.

Tony Blair said recently "America was attacked on 9.11, so he had to support Bush on Irak" HUH?

We invaded a secular country that did not threaten us nor desired war with us and turned into a flaming religious cauldron.

What did it have to do with 9.11 Mr. Blair?

W. Patrick Lang

I would be glad to eat crow. pl



1. Are we simply setting up, from a geopolitical perspective, an artificial, and, ultimately, unsustainable, political entity? (Dramatically artificial that is, I grant that most of the states in the ME are artificial entities set up by Western govts) . Is this what we really need in the ME? Another Israeli like entity; with land locked, hostile, supply routes?

2. Is the so called AQ of Mesopotamia so powerful, so vital a force, that only the long reach of US Special Forces, et al, can restrain it? I seriously doubt that. And think it near delusional on the part of people who do think that. If the so called AQ of M is really to be stopped it will be stopped by the forces in the area who, so one would imagine, are threatened by it. It is one thing to tolerate it as a foil against the Americans. It is another thing to let it grow, to the extent it HAS the ability to grow, as a large force threatening its neighbors. And it, AQ of M, have antagonisms with ALL the nations/forces in the area.

3. It will be interesting to see if the American people get presented with a choice in this decision to stay or go. Or, if both political parties, and the MSM, that covers them, will reach a consensus that, no matter what, we have to stay ‘engaged’ in the ME in the manner we have been. As, indeed, the same group reached a consensus that we had to go into Iraq, and stay in Iraq, in the first place I would love to put the question to a pure vote in the following manner:

Do you, American citizen, want to continue the policy of ‘active involvement’ in the ME…or would you like to withdraw from the ME and let things go as they may: cut the military budget by a 100 billion this year, and over the next 10 years as well, invest it in health care, critical infrastructure, and energy independence projects?

Sure, sure, simplistic populism or whatever. Still, I’d love to see the results. I bet the elites in this country would not dare to allow it, the question, or a campaign, to be framed that way. Because, they, we, all have a hunch what the majority (dare we speculate, vast majority?) of Americans would say?

Dana J

Pat: We have permanent bases in Iraq, we have spent billions on them, and we are not going to leave them. Want to see them, just go to Google maps, select satellite view, zoom in on Iraq and start looking around, they are quite visible. Just North of Bagdad is a huge double runway airbase that appears on the image as a huge rectangle. There are about 5 more this big, and about 1/2 dozen single runway bases. I don't think we are just going to walk away from these, if anything we will demand a treaty from our Mr. Sock-puppet government to "allow" us to keep troops & equipment there as long as we want. And I agree with Frank's comment above that we will have to have some kind of deal with the Turks re the Kurds or the Turks will decide to occupy the north of Iraq and there is not much we can do if they do it. Are we going to get into a conflict with Turkey now too?


So Colonel are you for continuing to train and equip the Mehdi Army and Badr Brigades? Oops I meant the Iraqi police force and Army...

And if there is a significant drawdown of troops or a pullback to large fortified bases outside of urban areas, how does that work in Baghdad. Most U.S. forces right now are in Baghdad (or in neighboring provinces). Wouldn't drawing down make it very easy to cut off the supply line to the Vatican-sized embassy and an easy target to hammer with artillery even more so than it is now? Maybe they should set up that embassy in Kurdistan?

Also, will it be possible for the U.S. to establish bases in the north if the Kurdish parties refuse (or are unable) to clamp down on the PKK attacks on Turkey?


505th PIR: "[Ungloved hammering of insurgents will give]...the Iraqi govt and diaspora of centrist tribal militias a chance to build a confederacy of non-theocratic forces that can stave off an AQ or Iranian backed theocracy/competing regional theocracies."

505th PIR,

It seems to me that two of the most significant players in Iraq's government consist of al-Maliki's Islamic Call [Da'wa] Party and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) - both of whom are theocratic parties generally allied with Iran. The Sadrists are also big players, and are theocrats not very closely tied with Iran.

The Iraqi Vice President is a Sunni fundamentalist, apparently.

Which "non-theocratic" forces in the Iraqi government or wider society are you rooting for?


At this point I think that all the warhawks can hope for is the proverbial Hail Mary Pass, like the Athenians toward the end of their disastrous siege of Syracuse in 415-13 B.C. To lose the siege required merely simple incompetence, but to lose their entire army required a remarkable degree of carelessness to boot. They staked their hopes on a "surge" as well, only to lose the lot.

Leila A.

Nobody talks about God much on this blog, but I think that if you have a mustard seed of belief in a Higher Power, you should consider praying for Iraq (and the USA, and Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Darfur/Sudan, etc.)

There is indeed always hope. Miracles do happen - I know it. We need some. If more of us just turned our thoughts to the Source of All Good (or say a novena or whatever prayer you practice) maybe we can make a difference.

Sorry to interject such non-material comment but I feel compelled. With God all things are possible. We humans have messed things up pretty darned well with our fear and petty egotistical concerns. Now it's time to turn inward, upward, wherever.

I appreciate Col. Lang's humility and willingness to be wrong for the sake of greater good. We need more of that in our leaders.

Blessings to all.

Abu Sinan

I guess spending a lot of time in the north of Ireland, before and after the last IRA ceasefire, and all over the Middle East, I cannot help but compare the two.

The British Army did the same thing basically. It has some posts in areas that were very welcoming, ie the loyalist/unionist community(Kurds), and it had other posts in areas where it was so dangerous that even the trash had to be flown out because the squaddies were so afraid, ie South Armagh and the Crossmaglen area (Sunni and some Shi'a areas).

Either situation was a loose/loose situation for the Brits. As they wouldnt mind telling you, "all of the Paddies look the same" whether they were Prods or "Taigs" (not PC word used for Catholics).

The fact is that the majority of the opposing forces are operating in their homes. It is the vast minority of opposing forces that are foreign born.

The US cannot and will not be able to stop a local Iraqi based insurgency. US troops are ill-equipped and trained to do so and there is little if no history of US troops being successful in this role.

Whereas the US might be able to find some fairweather friends, these are not friends that could ever be 100% relied on and chances are motives are for tribal reasons rather than support for American goals or ideas.

This is where the simularity ends. The Brits, long experienced with counter-insurgency warfare couldnt control the relatively small area that was the north of Ireland. A small band of IRA in the South Armagh area was able to make the roads so dangerous that the British couldnt even truck in fuel, food or carry out it's waste and forced them to build the largest heliport in Europe at it's time in the area.

This in a very small area with a dedicated local IRA membership that probably never exceded a hundred, but had the overwhelming support for the local populace.

The situation in Iraq is much more complicated and covers areas much much larger than those in the north of Ireland.

If a well trained and experienced British Army couldnt beat the IRA, which the BA admitted as much last week, the US will never be able to come close in Iraq.

The question is not when the US leaves Iraq, it is a question of how many troops die before they figure out it is a lost cause.

Dave of Maryland

It will not be possible to operate in Iraq with forces stationed outside Iraq. The distances are too great. Once again, Logistics Rules.

Why would a power half a world away be justified in operating in Iraq at all?

If they have a problem with elements inside their borders, that is an internal problem. They are free to ask for money or training from outsiders. If they are not strong enough to put the trouble down, well, revolutions happen.

If what's going on in Iraq spills outside its borders, that's a problem for Iran or Turkey or Jordan, etc. Typically those options range from diplomacy to limited war.

So far as unpleasant things "escaping" the region & "contaminating" the outside world, that's a job for the local cops.

Where is the necessity for an overseas base? Any base?


Any comments on this proposal by Sen. Hagel? It'd be nice if they would give some attribution when they steal your ideas.


Margaret Steinfels

This morning (July 9), Juan Cole pointed to a statement by one of the Ba'athist leaders. Cole's comment: not enough attention is being paid them.

My Question: Post-U.S. withdrawal does the professional Iraqi army come back and give that country another dictator?


The one true reality is that the USA is a foreign Christian invader. The Neo-Crusader Castles are just as viable as the first generation versions. Sooner or later the logistic tail to the 14 permanent bases will be cut by the Iraqis. Their only chance for survival longer than a decade is the political and military advantage the Neo-Castles would give to some Iraqi faction, like the Kurds. This is an Iraqi decision not American.

Also, the American people may just say the hell to Iraq and pull out to the Gulf States Neo-Castles. Even the future of these bases are in doubt with the onset of peak oil, Chinese holding most of America’s treasury bonds, and the free trade in oil in doubt as shown by Venezuelan shipping of gasoline to Iran.


505th PIR,

yes, my friends in the military tell me they're eagerly awaiting the completion of a major effort by Disney to build a theme park outside Western Baghdad. It's to be called "Arabian Nights." They can't wait to take their families there when it's done!


Debka.com makes an interesting observation

"Two months ago, military high commands in the Middle East stopped asking when the American army would leave Iraq. They took for granted that a major pull-back is in the works and not far away. "

they say the open question is not the pullback but whether there will be war with Iran.

they say half a pullback to gigantic north and south semi-permanent bases. They give as a model the British base at Basra which is mortared constantly- not a good model!


"Maybe hammering and I mean now the gloves have come off, really hammering at the insurgency(s)"

I'm sorry to hear a trooper from my old battalion using the "gloves off" newspeak for ethnic cleansing and genocide, if that's what our "options" have come down to.

Our guys in-country have hardly been fighting a white-glove COIN. When you're using tac air and arty to target urban guerillas in a country you occupy it's hardly fighting "with the gloves on". So I'm not sure what "taking the gloves off" would look like but I suspect it would be something like the Russians have been doing to Chechnya.

It works - no argument. If you kill everything that walks and make a wasteland you can call it "peace" as much as you like. And it is "peace". There is a whole lot of peace in the grave.

IMO the idea that with 180K we can commit enough mayhem to glut our enemies with blood is delusional. But it'd be a WHOLE lot worse to commit that bloody, atrocious mayhem and wind up short of the "victory" wading through all that blood is supposed to provide.

I, too, would be glad to eat my words in the case that, short of "gloves off" genocide we can get the factions to the negotiating table. But my bet is that we can't do it.


Just to add a small point. In the Arab world, the talk is that the rulers of the various Gulf nations are absolutely petrified of an impending attack on Iran, which is why they are lining up to speak up about Iranian rights to Nuclear energy. The rulers of Kuwait, the Emirates and Oman especially know that their small but rather expensively built cities would not be able to take a war in the gulf.

How this will effect the US bases in those countries I suppose depends on how scared they get and how much of a spine they can grow.

TR Stone

...With God all things are possible..."Leila A"

Read Deitrich Bonhoeffer's "Letters and Papers From Prison" for an understanding of one person's faith, in a time of war.

Clifford Kiracofe

On logistics:
"BAGHDAD — Attacks on supply convoys protected by private security companies in Iraq have more than tripled as the U.S. government depends more on armed civilian guards to secure reconstruction and other missions.
There were 869 such attacks from the beginning of June 2006 to the end of May this year. For the preceding 12 months, there were 281 attacks...."

I was just out in the Gulf in the UAE in June and had a number of cabinet-level talks on my agenda. Gulf countries are extremely concerned about a war against Iran. Their cities and infrastructure are exposed and they have significant trade links with Iran which they do not want disrupted.

UAE officials characterized the overall relationship with Iran as "normal" and the economic dimension of the relationship as "excellent."

The UAE supports Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy under proper international safeguards but is naturally deeply concerned over
development of nuclear capability for military purposes. Officials indicated to me that there is a concern over the Bushehr facility as the UAE gets it drinking water from the Gulf and does not want to see any "Chernobyl-like" situations arise.

The assessment out there is the United States "has no plan" with respect to Iraq where the situation gets worse by the day. The United States is perceived as not listening to the countries of the region so, naturally, there is a certain frustration with Washington despite excellent overall relations.

Cold War Zoomie

FDChief said...

"I, too, would be glad to eat my words in the case that, short of "gloves off" genocide we can get the factions to the negotiating table. But my bet is that we can't do it."

The Brits bombed the crap out of Iraq during the 1920 uprising. Some sources make it sound like it was definitely a "gloves off" strategy. The bombing worked in the short term and halted the uprising.

If we completely ignore the moral issue of killing more innocent people than we already have, I still don't think it would work this time around. The 1920 uprising only lasted three months and Al Jezeera wasn't broadcasting the horrific results around the Muslim world.

With today's mass media network it would be impractical as well as morally reprehensible.


Is it just for the occupier to bomb the occupied?


Whenever I hear the "gloves off" argument I think of the Neocon in the sinking boat who knocks extra holes in the bottom "to drain the water back out again."

General Guderian's criticism of the "Ferdinand" version of the heavy Tiger tank still holds true. Noting that the inexplicable absence of machine guns would leave it no option but to fire its 88 mm cannon at individual soldiers, he remarked caustically, "That'll be like killing ants with a sledgehammer."

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