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10 September 2007


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How can we know that we are not just seeing General Westmoreland 40 years later?
Why should I believe any thing the General has to say? As a former Marine officer, I take whatever any active duty general says with a grain of salt. One of the reasons I like this site, is because you retired as a Colonel!


Crocker talked about good negotiations with Iran in 2001-2002 re Afghanistan. Then, low and behold, we had the famous Axis of Evil speech, and the subsequent five years of the keystone cops' Pentagon and the alienation of every single ally we ever had, and voila, the Iranians are no longer interested in negotiations with the U.S.

Does anyone wonder why?

Tim G


I can't help thinking that we are buying the Iraqis time with our blood; time the Iraqis are using to prepare for when we are gone.


Mad Dogs

I'm still waiting for the original Surge rationale to be totaled up by Petraeus/Crocker, and heaven forbid, by Junya and crew:

US Troop Surge x Iraqi Political Compromise = Success or Failure.

The calculus is not:

US Troop Surge plus Iraqi Political Compromise = Success or Failure.

This is not addition problem. This is multiplication problem!

Hence the meaningful result must show:

US Troop Surge x Zero Iraqi Political Compromise = Failure.

To belabor the obvious (which sorely needs doing in both the MSM and in DC), Petraeus/Crocker, and Junya and crew, have zero interest in doing this math for the simple reason that to do so, would be to admit the failure in achieving the result that was the original goal of the Surge.

It seems to me that far too many in the MSM and the political arena have missed this central point.

The American military, to paraphrase our Dear Leader's most recent homily, can "kick some ass", but that does not address the underlying problem of ethnic/tribal/sectian/religious distrust if not in fact outright hatred.

Political progress there? Not so you'd notice.

As far as I can tell, we're still looking at a "failed state" with more failure to come.

"Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan." And no one apparently is interested in the paternity test.


I appreciate your thoughts, Pat, and always learn from you. Progressive blog comments are critical of the requested withdrawal Petraeus described because, as you note, those troops would have had to come home anyway. I'm wondering if you think his recommendation indicates a trend in his mind, to continue the withdrawal beyond the surge population? If not, don't you think that demonstrates a lack of confidence in his plan and the proposed hope that the Iraqis can begin to take over more when the surge troops have gone?

I also wonder if you think at that point troops who are not scheduled to go home will be redeployed for Iran.

I hope my language is correct, I am not remotely military, just concerned.

Thanks again.


Can a general's good reputation deflect his Commander's urge to initiate war? General Petraeus is highly regarded within the administration, and he is being used to represent all that is dedicated, honorable, and capable about the Coalition involvement in Iraq and about the US military. An offensive against Iran would appear to have played him as a chump, and it would yank the rug out from under him in Iraq. Bush and Cheney would look downright underhanded, in the immediate view of the public and for history.

I wish I could find some definite good news about Iraq in what General Petraeus read to Congress today.

I guess the plight of Iraqis who have fled their homes, thousands into neighboring countries, is not likely to be on the Coalition talking points agenda anytime soon.


I'm watching Petraeus on Fox News. He seems to give that particular cable station exclusive interviews. Why is that?


9/11* + Iraq** = Bush's Fundamentalist Islamic Republic in Iraq

So much for the "fantastic freedom institute".


1) IRAQ: Clerics Begin to Take Over, By Ali al-Fadhily*, BAGHDAD, Sep 10, 2007 (IPS) - [snip]

Clerics began to play a major role since the U.S.-led occupation began in April 2003. Despite the promises of U.S. President George W. Bush to turn Iraq into a secular and free country, clerics have become the real leaders, and are beginning to control most political matters. http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=39197

2) Iraq: Bush's Islamic Republic
By Peter W. Galbraith
Volume 52, Number 13 · August 11, 2005

SCIRI and Dawa want Iraq to be an Islamic state. They propose to make Islam the principal source of law, which most immediately would affect the status of women. For Muslim women, religious law—rather than Iraq's relatively progressive civil code—would govern personal status, including matters relating to marriage, divorce, property, and child custody. A Dawa draft for the Iraqi constitution would limit religious freedom for non-Muslims, and apparently deny such freedom altogether to peoples not "of the book," such as the Yezidis (a significant minority in Kurdistan), Zoroastrians, and Bahais.

THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ; Islamic Law Controls the Streets of Basra; Enforcers patrol the city and Shiite militiamen have taken over the police. Residents accused of infractions are beaten or killed.: By Louise Roug. Los Angeles Times, Jun 27, 2005 [snip]

Physicians have been beaten for treating female patients. Liquor salesmen have been killed. Even barbers have faced threats for giving haircuts judged too short or too fashionable.

Religion rules the streets of this once cosmopolitan city, where women no longer dare go out uncovered.

"We can't sing in public anymore," said Hussin Nimma, a popular singer from the south. "It's ironic. We thought that with the change of the regime, people would be more open to singing, art and poetry."

* Nearly 3000 murders + uncounted thousands of physical, psychological, spiritual mutilations + tens of billions of dollars in damage incurred

** Tens of thousands of people maimed, murdered, raped, drilled in the head, sodomized, burned, hanged, drowned, etc + five hundred billion dollars


The Bolsheviks had the same problem with a lack of qualified officers for their Red Army. They solved it by bringing back some Czarist officers under the rubrik of "technicals" or some such term. How far they were willing to trust these retreads was indicated by the imposition of Political Commissars to watch the "technicals." Guess who had the final say?


GEN Petraeus may say that we are not arming them, but we are certainly handing out bags of cash and several news reports indicate that American troops allow their Sunni "allies" to take from arms caches seized during raids. No substantive difference.


The purpose of handing out bags of cash is so that they can buy Moody and S&P AAA rated securities that are backed by sub-prime mortgages. If they're buying arms it is a gross violation of the agreement.

Oh, and why we should all believe Petraeus:



It would appear that the "surge" was simply an expedient to ensure that there would not be a catastrophic collapse of the US military position before the departure of the Bush administration from office. What kind of leaders would deliberately set up their successors for failure and dolchstoss accusations? What has happened to America?

Colonel Lang appears to be a fine soldier, but he seems to think that the US Military exists and functions independently of the character of our national leadership. The pathetic pandering of General Patraeus to the surge scam suggests this is not the case. The officer corps in Iraq has become corrupted just as it was in Vietnam. This unhappy result seems to be an unavoidable consequence of dirty neo-colonial wars.



"An offensive against Iran would appear to have played him as a chump, and it would yank the rug out from under him in Iraq."

Remember Colin Powell?

I was listening while working but, did Crocker confirm that he sold the oil-rights to an American company without the approval of Maliki?

If Crocker sold the oil rights, does that mean we have pulled the rug under Maliki or just given-up on Maliki?

Crocker was a little confusing but, what can you expect from a career officer in the State Department.

Col, "If Casey requested the additional troops and the tribal revolt was caused by factors beyond his control, then what is left as Petraeus creative contribution is his campaign to protect the population of the Baghdad area by garrisoning the city with a myriad of little forts. That, in itself, may be enough to justify his reputation."

Shouldn't his reputation be based on the fact that he was responsible for training the Iraqi forces and the "victory is around the corner" column?

cynic librarian

One of my favorite scenes in Lawrence of Arabia is when the commanding field surgeon enters the Damascus "hospital" housing dead and dying Turks. The conditions are so hoorendous he berates 'awrence, shouting at him "Outrageous! Outrageous." Then the nurses and others move in to clean up the crap and mess left by 'awrence's nostalgic trip to being Alexander.

I just wish Peteraeus and others (perhaps even a Senator or 2) would act in this way towards the crap-house Bush has created in Iraq. While I admire a guy like Petraeus who's willing to clean out the latrines as part of his duty, I am hoping that at the same time he's pointing out to Der Deciderer what a real f*-up he is.

Following on the attempt to psychoanalyze Bush in a previous post, I'd note that Narcissism from a Freudian analysis occurs at the same time as potty training. The Narcissist is pathologically fascinated by his/her own bodily functions and by-products. In a strange way, they see it as somehow themeselves. (Need I mention the rumored predilection of Bush for flatulence jokes?)

One wonders how much Mama Bush changed baby Bush's nappies. As he went along in life Der Deciderer could certainly count on Mama and Papa Bush to clean up his messes. Then he met up with Rove, another person willing to clean up the mess--or at least smear it in ways that made Der Deciderer look like he was a prom queen and not Carrie.

Anyway, part of the message to Bush and others are things that Peteraeus and Gates have left out of their quantitative analysis of Res-Iraq: over 2million refugees; the lie that is falling body count; the ethnic cleansing.

And yes, the fact that nature indeed does hate a vaccuum, and the vaccuum of Iraq is sucking in all the ill-winds that the modern nation-state and colonialism tried to bottle up.


"Petraeus said that Iranian 'Quds' force cadres and Hizbullah trainers 'borrowed' by Iran have left Iraq."

This is great news. Maybe they went to Disneyland. Sorry, they might have reduced their presence but their still present.


"-Petraeus said that Iranian "Quds" force cadres and Hizbullah trainers "borrowed" by Iran have left Iraq."

They'll be back if they haave in fact left and not just gone to ground.



Though he speaks good English, he was still "grading his own paper". Except for Lantos, our representatives treated him like rock star. Will a leader with stature (please Jim Webb) kick this general in the groin to get the truth out of him? His testimony is that of a stooge for Bush. Crocker comes off as the proverbial "poor soul". Imagine him arguing with the "Decider"? Jones, as uncomfortable as he appeared, was not exactly glowing about the situation in Iraq. Chief Ramsay was outstanding in his unvarnished testimony. But, hey, he's only a cop; what does he know about violence? He may know more than a lot of the military beause he's lived with it all his professional life. The US military is over its head in Iraq.


Charley Reese:

And by the way, don't be fooled by this business of Bush claiming to do what the generals want. That's a deliberate deception. It is the generals who do – and say – what they think their commander in chief wants them to do and say. Their careers are at his mercy, and they know it.

As a rule of thumb, don't believe anybody above the rank of lieutenant colonel. That's the rank most warriors are forced to retire at. Most of the rest are politicians in uniform.


W. Patrick Lang


In general I would agree with the judgment on all those above Lieutenant Colonel. There are exceptions.

In Petraeus' case one must remember that this is a man who could be president if he gets it right. I think he is acutely aware of that and will be careful not to slavishly follow the administration line into an abyss.

What he is proposing is gradual withdrawal over several years down to a small (20,000?) presence. If he gets anywhere near that without some sort of catastrophe the american people will lose interest in the whole thing and think him a grand success.


So, you think I am either naive or a scoundrel? Amusing. If you think that Bush/Cheney are not worried about just how good a grip they have on people at the top in DoD, then you are the naif. Petraeus is already a four star general. There is no promotion above that. If the administration were to shove him out the door, so what, from his point of view. the same is true of Admiral fallon. Their careers are really beyond the ability of the Bush Administration to seriously harm.


What are Bush/Cheney's intentions towards Iran? Thst is the big question. If there is war with Iran, then you can throw all this carefully laid out withdrawal planning right out the window. pl

João Carlos

I fear that General Pat Lang is right:

"Now, if we knew what the commander guy and ole Dick intend to do about Iran, we would really know something."

That is the only thing will matter to the History's books.

The surge make no diference. Sorry. There is a interesting information at Juan Cole's blog today. There are 3 conflits now: Bagdha, Basra, and Kirkuk.

At Bagdha is happening a cleansing, the sunni are going out or being murdered, the city will end shia. Basra is a shia versus shia conflit. Who wins will have the oil. Kirkuk, Kurdistan need the oil there. Turkmen and arabs fight them. Turkey and Iran don't like the idea of a Kurdistan, they fear a "Great Kurdistan".

At the end, the surge don't have any importance. They are reforcing Bagdha, but the cleansing is happening anyway. And the real thing, the oil, will not be sunni, but shia. Who have the oil will have the power. End game.

João Carlos

sorry the bad english, my native language is portuguese.

Stephen Calhoun

Here's what's tedious: listening to partisan speechifying as a set-up to rhetorical questions.

I'm naive in my expectation of more prosecutorial, or at least concrete and pointed questions.

I'd ask why a tactic that is working isn't to be scaled up.

However, I'm reminded of the Quebec hayfarmers who figure that the truckload they sold at a loss demands going back to market with two truck loads.

Shock and awe against Iran is too lunatic to contemplate, for me, but I'm in the chorus that believes Cheney Inc. is demonstrably nuts enough.

Cold War Zoomie

I took a MB test once, but have forgotten what I am. The one thing I do remember is how surprised I was with its accuracy for me. Others in my group were surprised, as well. We all tested as part of a career transitioning program our former employers provided after we had been laid off. That thing nailed me and I tend to be very sceptical of generalized testing...tests only test how well you take tests, and all that.


PL is 100% correct. The key issue now has passed from Iraq to Iran. That is what we should be talking about now. Right now. And we are not. I believe (fear)that Brzezinski will prove the most prophetic here.


For those interested. We are going to blame Iran for Iraq's failure to reach the benchmarks. And as a result attack Iran. Albeit, as ZB notes, part of some 'defensive reaction' on our part.



Not without full scale regional political negotiations.

Any analysis must assume for bellicose relations with Syria and Iran through 01/09.

Baghdad will be ethnically cleansed and be the capital of the Shiite rump state. Sunnis will use terror to extract tenuous compromise. Iran will laugh at the travesty of our faith-based flatheaded policies.

Massive diplomacy with 160,000 troops on the ground would be optimal, but the smart money should bet on even further stupidity down the road.


frank durkee

As we try to read the personal, political and international tea leaves I am reminded that in prep school Bush was a cheerleader. Much of his public behaviour in the last few years fits that model very well. what he thinks privately is less clear. His stated images are those of someone who desperately wants to be " a player" and shows little of the reality based understanding that genuine 'players' show regularly. He projects an idealized 'player' image of himself, god only knows what it's really like inside his skin. Cheerleaders only have to keep rallying the crowd. They are never actually resposible for what happens or how it happens. I knew at least one of the senior players in this administrations when we were undergraduates together and their behaviou in this administration has a direct line connection to their behaviour in college.

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