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14 September 2007


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"of surprisingly high quality with Christopher Matthews making a reasoned appeal to the public to see that Petraeus believes his role as commander in Iraq to be that of executor of national policy, not the originator of national policy. This is a realistic view of the proper role of the military. People who want Petraeus to demand change in national policy should think that over carefully. "

And of course the reason some people have this mistaken impression of Petreus' role is that throughout the war Bush and his Fox helpers have intentionally created the false impression that "the commanders on the ground" were running the show.
That's why this is called "The Petreus Plan " not "The AEI/Fred Kagen" plan.


Col. Lang
Your statements makes sense. That is the problem. Earlier comments from others, which point toward the multiple levels of oppositional forces at play in the world, are correct. We have all gotten ourselves into an incredible knot. Ignorance and not intelligence is likely to be the engine of the whatever outcome stands outside the door. Even the nutcase special theory that somehow BushCo. will remain at the helm after the elections appears possible. However, as the Senate Committee said to the generals, "Thank you for your service" it will take people like yourself to pick up the pieces later.


You make a good point about Keith O.

Re an aggressive diplomatic effort under Bush-Cheney, how can that work when the actors needed to make it work no longer take seriously the Bush-Cheney-Rice regime? How do you adequately commence negotiations from a position of weakness? Taking the eye off the ball in Afghanistan and bringing anarchy and chaos to Iraq has made the U.S. weak and ineffectual in the eyes of everyone but Sean Hannity. The whole world is marking the calendar for the exit of these people.


The subject of U.S. contractors in Iraq was ignored by questions of both houses of Congress during this last weeks dog and pony show. When do those forces begin reduction? Or will there be an increase in private shooters to offset the Big Army drawdown? What about all the support folks behind the wire, when and how do they depart?


Col. Lang,

What do we need to do to protect those Iraqis who helped us? One legitimate concern raised by many is that the moment we announce an intention to leave, our help will dry up and those who helped us will be at great risk.

1. Do you think that is true?
2. Is there anything we can do about it, if it is true?

Personally, I agree that we have to begin ending the war now, with step one being promising not to stay permanently (promising the US and promising the Iraqis). But I am concerned about what happens as the end approaches. Thanks.



Please re-link to your article "Toward a Concert of the Middle East."


Forgive me, Colonel, but I fail to see the point, reiterated over and over again, of our training Iraq troops. They fought Iran to a standstill.
What is happening in Iraq appears to be a) an insurgency or b) civil war.
In either event, it would not appear that our own soldiers are doing all that well. (Before someone says I don't support the troops, I should like to point out that a member of my immediate family served in Iraq which is more than can be said for 99.9% of those in Washington who supposedly "support the troops.") So, to my mind, the argument that we need to stay in Iraq to train troops simply does not hold water.

Plymouth Rock

How about comments that are naively militaristic? Seems to me those are the real source of our problems these days.

Robert Clark

Sounds reasonable enough to me, but in all seriousness, do you think this program would continue to be viable if the administration carries through on its threatened bombing of Iran?


I think the argument needs to be bumped up one level to the following fundamental question: Should the United States own and occupy Iraq for the foreseeable future or not? If so, then no exit strategy is needed, and we stay the course whatever the cost. If not, then your proposal makes eminent good sense.

I expect that the American people, when presented with such a clear choice, would respond by saying, "Why on earth would we ever want to own Iraq?" The President, to justify his course, would have to finally explain why he seems to think that owning Iraq is such a good idea.


I'd suggest that there is too much emphasis on "combat forces". We also do not want to leave the "logistics tail" in Iraq even if it is under the control of contractors. When I last looked, we have over 90,000 tons of war material including armaments and ammunition in Iraq. That's too much to jeaprodize by a hasty withdrawal. We should either evacuate it or blow it in place. I'd hate to see such a waste of taxpayer funds but those are my thoughts.


While your plan seems reasonable, I'm wondering what happens if

1) Iraq erupts into a larger civil war as we withdraw troops?

2) The central government in fact becomes less and less vital, and there is de facto partitioning of Iraq?

These are two distinct possibilities, aren't they, Col.?


many commentators (pros & amateurs alike) have become increasingly strident (non-linear) due to close observation of / proximity to the profound damage the Bush regime (& the absence of coherent opposition) is doing to the country. no, it isn't good, people should not get crazy, but it is understandable - it has been a long, depressing nightmate, and it is not yet over.

Col Lang, your platform is sound. it should be linked to an Iran Policy that forestalls an attack (w/o explicit Cong. action). all points to the obvious - the need for "The Concert of the ME". I think we are more likely to get a Beatles reunion tour.

your argument that futility ought not condemn the attempt at achieving sound policy is a point very well taken. group therapy is one way we may keep our heads until the next Inaguration.

China hand

I was an early fan of Olberman, back when he was making his demonstrations to a largely sidelined audience. Lately, however, he has become shrill, and more preoccupied with his place on the stage than his audience. I am in agreement, Col. Lang, that he has gotten full of himself; a few months ago I thought about sending him an e-mail to that effect, but didn't think it worth my time. Ho-hum.

Yet despite Matthews' plea for understanding on Petraeus' behalf, I would remind everyone that this is also the same commentator who has uncritically raised a number of 80's era 'legal transgressors' to great heights of Magnitude and Heroism. More to the point: so far as I could see from this side of the Pacific, Matthews enthusiastically joined the pro-invasion furor, even as the lies of this administration became painfully obtrusive.

It is nice to see him lately coming around; unfortunately, it is at least a nation too late.

I may be in the minority, here, but it seems to me that after only a single year of a 6 figure salary it'd be an easy thing to risk one's career for the truth.

Perhaps it is guilt that now forces some sincerity; regardless, these are fortuitous stars for Petraeus. Once again: I am thankful for this blog, and respectful of the Colonel's insight into the public play. Without it, I would be a much more distraught person.

Col. Lang: I completely agree with every one of your points; moreover, I also think the majority of the american People -- as well as the peoples of the globe (certainly most of East Asia) -- would wholeheartedly agree.

Unfortunately, there is the problem of AIPAC.

Your points 1, 2 and 3 are in direct contradiction to (what appears to be) their aims (does anyone really know?). Point 4 is irrelevant; point 5 -- as I suspect you envision it -- is likely contrary to the objectives and methods they would prefer; and point 6 is -- so long as our politicians take so much of their money and direction from this bunch -- simply foolhardy.

There are already two Presidential candidates who have clearly outlined similar goals as an American strategy. The MSM has curtly dismissed their aspirations as ludicrous.

Meanwhile, "serious" people are expected to expect 100+ thousand troops in Iraq for at least 10 years.

I hope to god i am wrong, but these points as you list them seem only pipe-dreams.


How about naively, anti-pacifist?

Your suggestions appear reasonable, as they have for years. And importantly, they don't strike me as very revolutionary -- being mainly concerned with how to preserve American power and prestige.

If recent polls are to belived, the American public would respond well to such centrist policies.

The question is: Why does their adoption appear so impossible.

There has to be more to it than Cheney's lunacy, Bushite incompetence or a timid Democratic Party?

It's a question relevant for democracies everywhere.


How about the roughly 150,000 US contractors/guards/mercenaries, hired based on contracts given to private parties by the US government?

Will the neo-colonial edict that exempted these from Iraqi law be withdrawn?

W. Patrick Lang


A truly sovereign Iraq can do what pleases about foreign businesses,


The idea in the "concert" paper of keeping some troops in Kurdisan has been superceded by events.


I think we should get it out. we can't afford to waste money like that.


This is not the army that fought Iran. We got rid of that army. Actually, they did better than that. They defeated Iran.


Since I am not a Calvinist, I believe in the possibility of redemption. pl


From another blog:

Supporters of the war and opponents both know that the multiple conflicts in Iraq have no military solution. Soon to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen, is unequivocal on this: "Security is critical to providing the government of Iraq the breathing space it needs to work toward political national reconciliation and economic growth.… Barring that, no amount of troops in no amount of time will make much of a difference" (emphasis added). If U.S. forces cannot make a difference, improved Iraqi forces certainly cannot.

Seems to question the value of a training mission.


One man's "anti-American" or "naively pacifist" comment might be another's cogent observation.

China hand

With all due respect,Colonel

Didn't you say (latest Lebanese-Israeli war) that the victor of a war is the one who holds the ground?

Then why do you say that the former-Iraqi-army "defeated" Iran?

I don't understand. It would seem to me -- by that measure -- that Iraq lost, and badly.


Your ideas make sense to me Col. Lang. In fact, I think it is the only logical way forward, however Bush is not logical, and cannot act in the way you propose.

When I heard Bush's speech on the radio yesterday, my first thought was "This man is trying to create an American Empire" - because that was the substance of what he said.

We invaded - installed a Government - are now "pacifying" the country - will negotiate a treaty with ourselves - and build permanent bases - and we will stay forever.

There was no "endpoint" at all in Bush's "commitment" to Iraq whatsoever.

The trite meaningless phrases were rolled out: "troops will return as we succeed" is meaningless, what if we don't "succeed" whatever that means? Do the troops then have to stay forever?

The only absolutely sure outcome of this fiasco is that a wave of Iraqi refugees will eventually come to America and displace the Vietnamese from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder if you get my drift, as happened to the Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans and so on in the past. I guess we will then get to eat in Iraqi restaurants - whats the food like?

Maybe you should stand for President, what do other people think?

Robert A. Seeley

The key to success with this or any withdrawal plan is the commitment that there will be no permanent U.S. presence in Iraq. Without that pledge, the drawdown will be much more difficult and dangerous. I share b's skepticism about the proposed training mission in part because I think it appears to contradict the pledge to set up no permanent bases in Iraq. Logically it doesn't, especially since you specify that it have a stated end point; but politically it will need skilful handling. I can, though, see why a continued training program is part of the proposal. Equally important would be a commitment to help train a civil police force, which, according to the recent report to Congress by Gen. Jones, is in worse shape than the army.

This proposal doesn't address the problem of refugees. I assume this was a deliberate omission—a plan can't deal with every problem—but Iraqi refugees are growing in number, both people who have fled internally and those who went to Jordan, Syria, etc. Their stories are heart-wrenching, and they are our moral responsibility. Our long-term commitment to Iraq has to include helping refugees to resettle (if they want to).


I'm not used to having "Chris" Matthews called Christopher. He is a hero of mine.

I also watch his half hour syndicated show outside of MSNBC. I don't think he ever drank the Kool-Aid on Irak. He has spoken of Cheney's guilt of waging "aggresive war."

Me and the wife get a kick out of how fast he talks and how he sometimes answers his own questions before the guests have a chance. Signs of an Expressive preference in the Expressive/Reserved Keirsey typology axis.

I'm also partial to one of his frequent guests, Pat Buchanan. Pat often makes the same point the Col. makes. The Dems have to be careful not to be tarred with the blame of defeat.

Pat was bitterly anti-war from a conservative perspective.


Perhaps the training could take place elsewhere, such as Jordan or perhaps Oman or one of the emirates where we have a base.

W. Patrick Lang


I would be curious to know what the two ribbons are that Lt. Bush is wearing. Surely those are not the DFC and MSM?

Ronald & RS

We need to start thinking about admitting refugees to the US, not the big guys, they can go live in the Italian lake country or the Riviera. I mean the little people. Those who have worked for us who are left will suffer terribly.


I said "merely anti-Anti-American." Contributory anti-American comments will be considered.

China Hand

Your grasp of history is defective and probably influenced by Iranian and Israeli joint political warfare and propaganda.

I was in charge of this issue during that war and spent a lot of time in the country then, some of it visiting Iraqi units at the front.

At the time that the IRANIANS asked the UN for a cease fire, the Iranian forces had been utterly destroyed as coherent fighting organizations in th series of Iraqi offensives that led up to that point. In addition, the Iraqi forces were everywhere well inside Iranian territory (up to 50 miles)with the possible exception of the far north in Kurdistan. I don't remembe what the situation was up there becasue it was not very important to the outcome.

After the war the Iraqis held an exhibition for the diplomatic corps and foreign media of the equipment they had captured from Iran in the last months of the war. there were thouands of tanks, APCs, artillery pieces, etc.

Iran asked for a cease fire becasue she had no other choice.

"Tonypandy." Look it up pl

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