Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 17, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

A POTEMKIN OPERATION?....Via Atrios, Christopher Allbritton says that Operation Swarmer, the recent air assault on Samarra, is a "Potemkin operation":

According to a colleague of mine from Time who traveled up there today on a U.S. embassy-sponsored trip, there are no insurgents, no fighting and 17 of the 41 prisoners taken have already been released after just one day. The number of weapons caches equals six, which isnt unusual when you travel around Iraq. Theyre literally everywhere.

....About 1,500 troops were involved, 700 American and 800 Iraqi. But get this: in the area theyre scouring there are only about 1,500 residents. According to my colleague and other reporters who were there, not a single shot has been fired.

Operation Swarmer is really a media show. It was designed to show off the new Iraqi Army although there was no enemy for them to fight.

This is a pretty serious charge. I wonder what Time's "official" coverage of Operation Swarmer will have to say about this?

UPDATE: Here's the official coverage:

On Scene: How Operation Swarmer Fizzled

....Contrary to what many many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war....In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. Whats more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders.

The operation...was initiated by intelligence from Iraq security forces....But by Friday afternoon, the major targets seemed to have slipped through their fingers.

Needless to say, this piece is a little more restrained than Allbritton's blog post, but it still gets the point across.

Kevin Drum 2:13 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (167)

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Comments

LOOK A PUPPY!!

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on March 17, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

The Administration is no doubt trying to upstage the coming coverage about how Iraq War 2 is in its 3rd year with no end in sight.

Posted by: Jon Karak on March 17, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

On the other hand, this is a town and area we knew we had insurgents in last year, and had a terrible fight.

...So if there aren't insurgents, where the locals are supportive of them...

Maybe it's a glimmer of hope.

Besides, the Iraqi troops and police could probably use a few milk runs; their morale was and has continued to be pretty poor, especially with the stolen uniforms, destroyed stations and massacred trainees.

Posted by: Crissa on March 17, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Good thing a REAL Democrat was in charge of WWII - you guys would have lost it and we'd all be typing in German right now - that's all I can say for the sad future of our country.

Posted by: Don P. on March 17, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

And maybe it's just a coincidence, but no reporters were taken along. Hard to report what you can't see.

Meanwhile Bushco says the Iraqi troops are "leading." This will be proof that his plan is working.

Posted by: tomeck on March 17, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

So what's all this complaining that we don't have enough troops? We've got one for every citizen!

Incidentally, this new "Don P." that's shown up doesn't seem to be the old Don P. I'm getting a whiff of Charlie in yet another new persona.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on March 17, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

It's like aWol's quick trip to vote in Texas; just another waste of our money. How much did this wag the dog effort cost?

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on March 17, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Making great progress! Great progress! Great progress!

And, of course, the media have to support the terrorists...

Posted by: Freedom Phucker on March 17, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Who expected anything else from the Potemkin Presidency? Who is surprised by this? Why does Kevin look at every such issue in isolation from the past behavior of the President and his cohorts?

Posted by: lib on March 17, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK
Incidentally, this new "Don P." that's shown up doesn't seem to be the old Don P. I'm getting a whiff of Charlie in yet another new persona.

Yeah, I think its pretty sad when the trolls start stealing eachother's identities...

Posted by: cmdicely on March 17, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'm getting a whiff of Charlie in yet another new persona.

Could it be because DonP's posts are nonsense and stink to high heaven?

Posted by: ckelly on March 17, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Feints, maneuvers, lies, exagerations, all part of war.

Where is the serious charge? Hey, I think they should do this stuff all the time, only engage the enemy one out of every 20 road trips. Isn't that how you fight a war?

Posted by: Matt on March 17, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Potemkin operation? The entire damn administration, start to finish, has been a Potemkin operation. Slap on a fresh coat of paint, put up a shiny facade, brand it with a deceptive name ("Healthy Forests," "Clear Skies," "Operation Iraqi Freedom") and boom! you're job is done. Why be a sucker and do any actual substantive work?

Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

From Bill Roggio

Amazing how people here will snap up a meme, often word for word, like a carp taking a hook. Be interesting to Google "Potemkin" in about a week.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 17, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

The BBC report seems to confirm the Potemkin operation view:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4817762.stm

Posted by: Commenterlein on March 17, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Amazing how people here will snap up a meme, often word for word, like a carp taking a hook. Be interesting to Google "Potemkin" in about a week.

Also be interesting to Google "incompetent," "idiot," and "liar" in about a week.

Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz,

Do you even click on your own links?

The commentary you link to is about a vacant a piece of "analysis" as I've seen on the operation. As best I can make out, not a single pertinent fact is adduced as to whether this is indeed a real or theatrical operation.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 17, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

It might behoove one to hold off a bit before making any assumptions...we'll know a lot more in a week.
I'll admit to being a little surprised as to why this particular offensive was being played up...there have been far larger ones in terms of personnel in the past year.

Posted by: Nathan on March 17, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

I take it that the troll tbrosz above has nothing substantial to utter except his trademark snark at anyone who dare criticize the dear leader.

Posted by: lib on March 17, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Does it bother tbrosz not to have any coherent foreign policy positions of his own, other than "find out what Bush will do, and support it"?

Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

No surprise at all, the polls are low and something has to be done. To raise the alerts to orange would be too obvious.

Posted by: Renate on March 17, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

monica whittingtons are here in full force today.

Posted by: nut on March 17, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm reminded of this theatrical line from the 60s:

"No prisoner has ever escaped from Stalag 13!"

Posted by: David W. on March 17, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Renate and others:

this operation is altogether too small to have been aimed at U.S. polling...

the link tsbroz gave was actually quite informative...it makes sense that this may well have been more of piece of showmanship designed to bolster the confidence of Iraqi forces...designed at the theater level.

Posted by: Nathan on March 17, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK
this operation is altogether too small to have been aimed at U.S. polling.

Its been getting quite a bit of media attention, no doubt because the government has been promoting it to the media; what does its actual size, rather than its promoted importance, have to do with whether it could be aimed at US polling?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 17, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Wow,

Talk about getting a bang for our buck(s).

Think of the adrelanine rush this operation induced in the troops, all those helicopters thumping the air.

What a joke.

Face it, you can't fight a conventional war in Iraq (anymore...remember Mission Accomplished?).

New names:

Operation Quagmire

Operation Shifting Sands

Operation IEDradicator

Operation Depleted Uranium

Operation F*** this S***

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 17, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Amazing how people here will snap up a meme, often word for word, like a carp taking a hook.

Yeah...for example, tbrosz has been pushing the same loathsome Dolschtoss argument that Glenn Reynolds has. Shame on you both, tbrosz.

Posted by: Gregory on March 17, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

On the more serious side, is anyone besides me struck about the fact that this was not an "Iraqi Army" operation at all, but a U.S. Army operation with Iraqi soldiers included? That's the real "Potemkin" lurking here, not the fact that the operation itself was just so much military PR instead of an actual counter-insurgency operation like Falluja was.

Posted by: David W. on March 17, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0:

Really? What "pertinent facts" were included in the original reference? That there wasn't any significant firefight? If the opposite had been true, the meme would have been "another Fallujah." That there were no insurgents there? They recovered weapons, explosives, and stashes of uniforms. Probably hobby collectors, I suppose.

Another point of view on possible motivations for the level of news coverage from the SF Chronicle.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 17, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Alek Hidell wrote: Incidentally, this new "Don P." that's shown up doesn't seem to be the old Don P. I'm getting a whiff of Charlie in yet another new persona.

I posted the same thought on another thread earlier. The original Don P. had a very distinctive attitude and style of rhetoric. So, of course, did Charlie. This new "Don P." seems a lot more like Charlie in attitude and style than like the original Don P.

I would not be surprised if the new Don P. was Charlie again. Charlie's posts as "Cheney" seemingly stopped a week or so ago when he exploded in outrage at criticism of one of his posts, vowing to have nothing more to do with this site and to devote the rest of his life to ensuring that all of us "liberals" wind up in Gitmo. Usually after such an outburst, Charlie returns with a new handle, pretending not to be Charlie.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 17, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Operation Fleece the Taxpayers
(or the Iraq War is a Gold Mine so shut up you leftist losers)

http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?guid=%7B4CC934B5%2D11E8%2D4A01%2DA2DC%2D048D573C2CF9%7D&dist=newsfinder&siteid=google&keyword=

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 17, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

That there were no insurgents there? They recovered weapons, explosives, and stashes of uniforms. Probably hobby collectors, I suppose.

Is there any single neighborhood in Iraq where you won't recover caches of weapons and explosives?

But what's the deal with uniforms? After all, the rebels don't wear any. So that would seem to indicate these were Iraqi Army or police uniforms, which would seem to be a bad rather than a good sign, as it would indicate they have ready ways to blend in and infiltrate those units.

Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Another liberal conspiracy where's the real Don p

Posted by: Don p. on March 17, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Don. P is Charlie/Cheney. Same style and syntax. Now watch this:

Abortion!

Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

They recovered weapons, explosives, and stashes of uniforms. Probably hobby collectors, I suppose.

Or perhaps any of the caches Saddam was known to have salted away across the country, tbrosz. That dishonesty was low even by your standards. Shame on you.

Folks, can't you tell how grumpy tbrosz is that someone rained on his parade of imagining a glorious, victorious operation?

Posted by: Gregory on March 17, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

As tbrosz, if there had been a big firefight y'all would be all over that as evidence of 'civil war' and 'quagmire'.

Suppose for a moment that the Time correspondennt is correct (we don't even know who, where he/she is, what they've seen, but suppose). This then becomes a large-scale exercise and drill for both our troops and the Iraqi forces, and a complex one: an air-assault involving two battalions of troops with all the coordination required for the helicopters, logistics, etc. Getting the Iraqi troops trained to do that, and then getting that knowledge and experience to the rest of the Iraqi troops, is a useful step.

Recovering whatever weapons, etc., also is useful. You don't have to be in a firefight to do well in the field.

And we'd all want to see plenty of operations in which the troops hit the field and ... not do a whole lot, because there aren't a lot of insurgents willing to stand and fight. That's a good thing; it suggests that the real work ahead is quiet counter-intel and police work, which the Iraqis can do more and more on their own (and should).

There are very few soldiers in the world who kvetch when no one's shooting at them. We should learn from them.

Posted by: Steve White on March 17, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, look it's the mind reading trolls. "If this had happened, you would have said this." Well, if there had been a valid reason to go into Iraq then there might have been more support from the left.

Then again, if things were different, they wouldn't be the same.

Morons

Posted by: heavy on March 17, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Steve W., is the Iraqi Army going to get all the hardware they need to fight a U.S. style war? We aren't even giving them tanks at this point, let alone all the helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, etc. they would need to fight the way we do. As far as I can tell, such operations as this are more to "integrate" Iraqi soldiers with our forces, and do it in such a way that our command and control is required. Call me a pessimist if you like, but somehow I don't think making Iraqis Hessians in their own damn country is going to work as a counter-insurgency strategy, or even work as a neo-colonial one.

Posted by: David W. on March 17, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

If those 47 million babies had not been aborted we would not have to worry about social security. An added bonus would be the large pool of talent our military could draw from. Old Europe with her declining birth rate could not afford these policies. When Roe v. Wade is overturned all will return to what God had commanded

Posted by: Don p. on March 17, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Don. P is Charlie/Cheney. Same style and syntax. Now watch this:

Abortion!

Not only that, but the real (?) Don P. appears to have resurfaced as "Jason." See the healthcare thread below.

As I noted there, I'd never considered any kind of link between Charlie and Don P., though they both are obsessed with abortion - except (purportedly) from opposite sides. I don't know, maybe Charlie and Don P. are some kind of brilliant performance artist.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on March 17, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

IRAQIS AND U.S. LAUNCH HUGE ASSAULT ON INSURGENTS
RAIDS ON STRONGHOLDS

Here's a quote from the SF Chronicle linked to by tbrosz at 3:10.

While still largely an American production, the operation was a clear step toward the kind many military analysts have said for months should be the U.S. goal in Iraq: Iraqi forces provide the basic intelligence about the target and the bulk of the ground forces and take most of the risk on the ground.

No shots were fired. No casualties. Of 41 arrests, 17 detainees have already been released. I guess it depends on what your goals are, as to whether this was a "good" target. It was good for the Iraqis who were taking most of the risk on the ground.

Posted by: cowalker on March 17, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

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^^^ Grassroots Petition Drive

Posted by: pdh1953 on March 17, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Amazing how people here will snap up a meme, often word for word, like a carp taking a hook.

Yeah, it's not like Chris Albritton is actually on the ground in Iraq, hearing these things first-hand. Er, wait.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on March 17, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:
"Its been getting quite a bit of media attention, no doubt because the government has been promoting it to the media; what does its actual size, rather than its promoted importance, have to do with whether it could be aimed at US polling?"

How is it supposed to accomplish anything in the polls? Besides the midterms are aways anyway. Its getting a lot of media attention because it's a slow news week. For this to be a true Wag the Dog operation it'd have to be a lot larger and aimed at a much longer time frame.

There is an in-theater rumor that this was actually aimed at nailing specific individuals...that might make sense (the helicopter assault provides the benefit of surprise...the 1,500 troops are being used to create an area cordon....)

Posted by: Nathan on March 17, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Michael Moore was right all along. Maybe there really isn't a terrorist threat at all.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 17, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

The little martinet, Gen. Braxton Bragg, will be so proud either looking down from that quadrangle in the sky or up from that cauldron of incompetent butchers below.

So many shiny new CIBs to pass out to the Iraqis.

"Oh, what a lovely war"

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 17, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

The TV coverage of this "Operation" was patently controlled and managed by Pentagon PsyOp folks. Unfortunately, they are trying to make it more complicated than that by continuing to lie to the American public. Let's hope the Dems get their act together and start telling it like it is in Iraq...rather than sitting on their butts, stunned and deluded by the madness of the entire "Operation".

Posted by: parrot on March 17, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

so when are we going to give the Iraqis what they really need to stem the insurgency -

helicopters
tanks
something beside the pee shooters they have?


Posted by: christAlmighty on March 17, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Potemkin. Now there was a real character.

I was wondering about those action shots of our troops disembarking to the ground with nothing but sand as far as the eye could see.

"Search and destroy" redux?

Posted by: kaptain kapital on March 17, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

As tbrosz, if there had been a big firefight y'all would be all over that as evidence of 'civil war' and 'quagmire'.

Would we have been wrong? At this point in the war, the mere fact we are running these operations, fake or not, is damning.

Recovering whatever weapons, etc., also is useful. You don't have to be in a firefight to do well in the field.

That is useful, but we don't have any indication we're making any significant headway in that regard.


And we'd all want to see plenty of operations in which the troops hit the field and ... not do a whole lot, because there aren't a lot of insurgents willing to stand and fight. That's a good thing; it suggests that the real work ahead is quiet counter-intel and police work, which the Iraqis can do more and more on their own (and should).

Now you're sounding like a liberal. Pretty soon your fellow conservatives are going to say Steve White would rather find Osama a therapist than shoot him in the gut.

But intel and police work have always been the real work. Like weapons caches, we don't have any indication of significant progress here. What's more, we have plenty of indication from the military's civlian leadership and the whitehouse that they hold such efforts in disdain.

Posted by: Boronx on March 17, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Or perhaps any of the caches Saddam was known to have salted away across the country, tbrosz. That dishonesty was low even by your standards. Shame on you.

Yeah. Saddam salted away current accurate Iraqi Army uniforms. An example of excellent foresight. Another site (different operation) recovered fake security IDs. No doubt Saddam also knew what those would look like three years ago.

I think the military knows the difference between a recent cache and one three or four years old.

Can we talk ignorance instead of dishonesty?

Posted by: tbrosz on March 17, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Flanders: Can we talk ignorance instead of dishonesty?

What are two words associated with George W. Bush?

Man, I love Jeopardy....


Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Can we talk ignorance"

Well, Tom, you do speak it so well.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 17, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan and ThirdPaul:

"Oh, yeah?"

I'm completely intellectually outmatched here.

Stefan, ThirdPaul, etc.:

"You sure are!"

Posted by: tbrosz on March 17, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'm completely intellectually outmatched here.

cite?

Posted by: kaptain kapital on March 17, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah. Saddam salted away current accurate Iraqi Army uniforms.

Maybe he did it using some of those pilotless drone planes the Right was so hysterical about....

Or maybe he's in league with a secret army of Al Qaeda tailors who are busily sewing, sewing, sewing....!

Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

looks like Time's official version is up.

Posted by: matt w. on March 17, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

There is not a terrorist threat that requires armies and bombs.

Since the invention of dynamite here is and always has been a terrorist threat. Economic difficulties in late 19th century Russia produce antiauthoritarianism, anarchism and propaganda by the deed. Czar Alexander was assassinated, prussic acid was thrown into the Paris stock exchange, bombs were lobbed in opera houses, a group called the Black Band appear north of Lyon against religious and political leaders, there was the Black Hand in Spain. In 1894 Jose Echegaray wrote in the periodical La Lectura that

Explosives are on the order of the day in the Chambers [of parliament], in the disorder of the night in the theaters; they hang as a menace over the entire bourgeoisie, without respecting the poor worker if they encounter him in passing, and there is no person who does not worry about dynamite, nitroglycerine, panclastinas, and detonators. Modern explosives have come to upset everything: ideas and property and social relations..

After the decline of anarchism other terrorist groups appeared, the Red Brigade, the IRA, ETA, Baader-Meinhof and on and on. It is a part of modern life, not an emergency that requires the suspension of habeas corpus and military intervention into other peoples countries.

Terrorism does exist but the threat to the American nation-state is nothing but exaggeration. The Muslim extremists are very much like the old anarchists. They are fragmented groups, unorganized, stateless (a key point for the ambitious neocons) and certainly they do not create anything like a black wave of Islamofascism that wants to dominate the world. Often they are just nationalists like the IRA. Terrorism is a form of propaganda, not a threat to civilization, although the powerless groups would like to think they can change history.

Posted by: bellumregio on March 17, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK
Can we talk ignorance instead of dishonesty?

In your case, the two are hardly exclusive, though its been my impression that, to date, you've favored the latter. Are you proposing a change in your posting style?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 17, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, a "Potemkin operation" sounds better than the impression I had formed. I can see value in running Iraqi units through a largish-sized sweep, practicing combined arms tactics, etc. Pretty standard field training.

Last night, on NPR, I heard an American officer state that there were about 100 partisans in the "Operation Swarmer" area. Of course these sorts of numbers are always informed guesses, but even so, the 15:1 force ratio (even larger, if you include air support) doesn't bode well for a war in which everyone acknowledges that trained coalition soldiers are in short supply. So yeah, "Potemkin operation" sounds much more preferable.

Posted by: sglover on March 17, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Christopher Allbritton is scheduled to be on Air America later today.

That tells you everything you need to know about this guy. Sure, he has gone to Iraq and he has seen what he has seen. I take his observations wih a grain of salt, because he is a Bush-hater to the core.

And by the way, Albritton didn't observe Operation Swarmer himself. He got the info from a TIME reporter. Hmmmmmm.

Posted by: BigRiver on March 17, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to know how many children the US military killed for this photo op.

Posted by: Hostile on March 17, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK
Needless to say, this piece is a little more restrained than Allbritton's blog post, but it still gets the point across.

More restrained? Where do you get that. Allbritton claims it was a propaganda set-piece, which, okay, propaganda and PR are key to winning a counter-insurgency effort.

But the TIME piece claims that there were real targets, but they all got away: IOW, it was a substantive operation that completely failed.

Seems to me the latter is the more serious criticism than the former.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 17, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

How rude of you, Hostile. Such things are not discussed in a civlized forum.

Posted by: Boronx on March 17, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

where's the real Don p

He went back to the yeshiva to learn how to torture Palestinians better.

Posted by: on March 17, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to know how many children the US military killed for this photo op.

And you guys complain when I assert that the left always sides with the enemy.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 17, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Just got done skimming the comments. I don't believe I have ever agreed with tbrosz here, but this time, the truth is on his side.

Know what I suspect? The western journalists in Iraq are, by now, pretty much cloistered in their hotels. Can't blame them for that -- everybody's gotta look out for his or her skin, right? But along comes this middling-sized confidence building operation, it's safe (lotsa soldiers providing security, after all), and so it gets coverage disproportionate to any real military significance it might have. And, oh yeah -- "the largest air operation since Shock'n'Awe", or some such. Meaning a bunch of helicopters, and some attached jets. Not exactly the Normandy invasion. Let's not get too worked up, here.

Posted by: sglover on March 17, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

And by the way, Albritton didn't observe Operation Swarmer himself. He got the info from a TIME reporter. Hmmmmmm.

And by the way, BigRiver didn't observe Operation Swarmer himself. He got the info from a FOX reporter. Hmmmmmm.

Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I missed some film clips but all I saw on CNN was from DOD. The info was no journalists were allowed. So what is it if not photo ops?
That was yesterday, have not seen anything today.

Posted by: Renate on March 17, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

>And you guys complain when I assert that the left always sides with the enemy.


Yes because it's the type of bullshit you'd never say to my face. I got a US address on my driver's license (hell, birth certificate) too, buddy. Two kids. So don't tell me I don't have the best interests of my country at heart.

I don't think either you or Bush/Cheney are deliberately "siding with the enemy".

I just think you all are complete idiots and are just getting people killed for no reason. WWI is starting to look sane by comparison.

Posted by: doesn't matter on March 17, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Michael Moore was right all along. Maybe there really isn't a terrorist threat at all.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 17, 2006 at 3:49 PM

Sure there is it's Bushco blowin up civilians that haven't done anything to him.
Memo must be slow getting to homeschoolers.

Posted by: Don p. on March 17, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg.com, "US military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan will average 44 percent more in the current fiscal year than in fiscal 2005, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said. Spending will rise to $9.8 billion a month from the $6.8 billion a month the Pentagon said it spent last year, the research service said."

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 17, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Spending will rise to $9.8 billion a month from the $6.8 billion a month the Pentagon said it spent last year

how many coats of paint do those schools need?

Posted by: cleek on March 17, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Tbrosz, sorry, but you are the enemy. The left never sides with you.

The left didn't let Bin Laden knock down those towers, the left didn't spend two decades underfunding levees in LA, the left didn't loot the nations treasury or rack up debt to chinese communist dictators. You and your cohorts did that.

The right is the enemy and the right is in charge and so all mayhem is occuring.

Posted by: Bubbles on March 17, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

I'm completely intellectually outmatched here.

uh yeah--you're just realizing this tdouche?
That's the problem with blithering idiots, they don't realize how stupid they are. They just keep telling themselves that they're smarter than everyone else.

Posted by: haha on March 17, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

David W writes, Steve W., is the Iraqi Army going to get all the hardware they need to fight a U.S. style war? We aren't even giving them tanks at this point, let alone all the helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, etc. they would need to fight the way we do.

We're not looking to make them a clone of our Army; we're looking to help them learn what they need to do to provide security for their own country. An air assault operation involving a battalion is useful training (as other other operations). They don't need to own lots of tanks and helicopters of their own, but this operation is helpful to their training.

As far as I can tell, such operations as this are more to "integrate" Iraqi soldiers with our forces, and do it in such a way that our command and control is required.

They have to walk before they can run -- that's been the point of this all along. Right now, today, yep, they need a lot of command and control from us. But one of the ways they develop their own C & C is through operations like this.

Call me a pessimist if you like, but somehow I don't think making Iraqis Hessians in their own damn country is going to work as a counter-insurgency strategy, or even work as a neo-colonial one.

They're not Hessians, and that's a silly thing to say. They're defending their own country. That thousands of young Iraqi men continue to volunteer should tell you something. You might not like what's been wrought in Iraq, but a sizable proportion of Iraqis see it as something worth fighting for.

Posted by: Steve White on March 17, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan - I got all my information on Christopher Allbritton from Allbritton's own web site. Not FOX.

I am a Republican and I am not afraid of getting information from Allbritton's web site.

But I take him with a grain of salt because of his self-admitted anti-Bush views.

Posted by: BigRiver on March 17, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Boronx responds to me: Now you're sounding like a liberal. Pretty soon your fellow conservatives are going to say Steve White would rather find Osama a therapist than shoot him in the gut.

Gut-shot sounds good to me.

But intel and police work have always been the real work.

That's been part of the real work. Field operations have been part of it as well, but one (of several) measures of on-going success is that you have less need for large scale field ops. I see this one as being as much a training exercise for the Iraqis as anything else. If they run into bad guys, fine, deal with them, if not, fine also.

Like weapons caches, we don't have any indication of significant progress here.

I see plenty of indicators of progress both in the political and economic front. That's probably another thread.

Posted by: Steve White on March 17, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

And by the way, Albritton didn't observe Operation Swarmer himself. He got the info from a TIME reporter. Hmmmmmm. Posted by: BigRiver

There isn't a single legitimate news service (meaning that the Washington Times, FOX, and the NY Post don't count) claiming that this was anything but a gloried training mission, if even that. They didn't rocket and strafe prior to going. In fact, they didn't even fire a shot. They arrested 41 people, most of whom were released in a couple of hours, and the weapons cache was six unidentified items.

Boy. The U.S. military really kicks butt (when they are stagin great theater for their running dog political bosses). Shit. It might as well be the Soviet Army on the Eastern (Western) front prior to the political commisars being removed from the "chain of command."

Posted by: Jeff II on March 17, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

They're not Hessians, and that's a silly thing to say. They're defending their own country. That thousands of young Iraqi men continue to volunteer should tell you something. You might not like what's been wrought in Iraq, but a sizable proportion of Iraqis see it as something worth fighting for.

Uh, no, a sizeable proportion don't. Iraq has about 36,000,000 people, if memory serves, and only a few tens of thousands of men are in the military. That's not a sizeable proportion. The fact that so few young Iraqi men don't volunteer to defend their own country should tell you something.

Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

We're not looking to make them a clone of our Army; we're looking to help them learn what they need to do to provide security for their own country.

If the Iraqi Army is not provided with tanks, APCs, attack and transport helicopters, heavy artillery, a self-supplying logistical chain, a functioning quartermasters corp, a navy, an air force complete with fighter jets, etc., then they will never be able to provide security for their own country, since they will not be able to defend themselves or their borders from foreign attack. A few thousand men armed with nothing more than assault rifles and relying on trucks and pickup trucks for transportation isn't an army, it's a glorified street gang.

Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Bellumregio writes, After the decline of anarchism other terrorist groups appeared, the Red Brigade, the IRA, ETA, Baader-Meinhof and on and on. It is a part of modern life, not an emergency that requires the suspension of habeas corpus and military intervention into other peoples countries.

If only al-Qaeda and other like-minded terror groups behaved like the IRA and ETA. Then you'd be correct.

The Baader-Meinhof gang engaged in kidnappings, bombings and the occasional airport shoot-out. Never once did they plan to kill tens of thousands of people in one blow. If they had, they would have been much more of a threat to us, and would have warranted a commesurate response. That's the difference.

Terrorism does exist but the threat to the American nation-state is nothing but exaggeration. The Muslim extremists are very much like the old anarchists. They are fragmented groups, unorganized, stateless (a key point for the ambitious neocons) and certainly they do not create anything like a black wave of Islamofascism that wants to dominate the world. Often they are just nationalists like the IRA. Terrorism is a form of propaganda, not a threat to civilization, although the powerless groups would like to think they can change history.

I can't agree with a single statement of that. Islamofascism is not fragmented: it has a common core ideology and belief system. It is not at all stateless, since adherents believe in the unmah and an eventual caliphate. They are not unorganized, they are decentralized, as they've learned that such a network is vital to survival.

And they most assuredly want to dominate the world, a world in which their belief system is supreme. You need to listen to them. Like other dangerous thugs in history, they have the habit of saying, up front, exactly what they want and what they'll do to get it. They believe in a single caliphate, with Muslims who think like them on top and everyone else either dead or subject to their rule. There's more to it, of course, but that's the bottom line. They win, we lose.

They are a threat to Western civilization, and they're certainly a threat to progressive Western civilization. I hope you understand that in their system, both you and I are among the first ones dead. Sorry to be blunt.

Posted by: Steve White on March 17, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan writes, If the Iraqi Army is not provided with tanks, APCs, attack and transport helicopters, heavy artillery, a self-supplying logistical chain, a functioning quartermasters corp, a navy, an air force complete with fighter jets, etc., then they will never be able to provide security for their own country, since they will not be able to defend themselves or their borders from foreign attack.

Certainly they'd have a hard time defending themselves from 1) Iran or 2) Turkey. The latter won't invade, and the former knows better (or at least prefers to work from the inside. It's a good point that they need more, in the future, than what they have right now. It will take a series of steps -- they need to develop a good infantry now; and add the other items to that in the future.

A few thousand men armed with nothing more than assault rifles and relying on trucks and pickup trucks for transportation isn't an army, it's a glorified street gang.

If that's what we were building there you'd be correct.

That's not what we're building there. What we're trying to do (mixed results so far) is a professional army.

Posted by: Steve White on March 17, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

That's not what we're building there. What we're trying to do (mixed results so far) is a professional army.

It's nice to end the work-week with a good laugh.

Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

On the more serious side, is anyone besides me struck about the fact that this was not an "Iraqi Army" operation at all, but a U.S. Army operation with Iraqi soldiers included?

That's the reason the Army made sure that in "attacking" this nearly empty wasteland there would be no opposition from the hapless farmers we rousted out of their hovels. In a real firefight against real resistance, the U.S. troops would have to make sure the Iraqi soldiers stayed in front (probably with bayonets in their backs)because they'd either run away or shoot our guys in the back, rather than kill their fellow Iraqis.

This way the psy-ops department got lots of pretty pictures, the Iraqi soldiers were able to do their part in the show without embarrassing their masters by joining the resistance or skedaddling to somewhere else, and Dimbulb will get a 1% boost in the polls.

It's a win-win for everyone.

Posted by: Basharov on March 17, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan likes to pretend he is a military expert.

What a joke.

Posted by: Paddy Whack on March 17, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Also be interesting to Google "incompetent," "idiot," and "liar" in about a week.

Heh - have you tried this? For "incompetent", I get a mention of Bush on hits #1,#4,and #9. "Idiot" at #2, and "liar" at #8. Tony Blair is Google's #1 liar, apparently.

All of which means... not much.

Posted by: cdc on March 17, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Time to append a Kevin Drum quote:

In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo and medal op.

Medal op

Did I coin a new term?

Posted by: koreyel on March 17, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan likes to pretend he is a military expert. What a joke.

Yes, every so often I enjoy putting on my codpiece, dressing up in a flight suit with lots of straps and buckles, and prancing around on the deck of an aircraft carrier, yelling "bring 'em on, boys! Bring 'em on!"

Posted by: Stefan on March 17, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White: And they most assuredly want to dominate the world, a world in which their belief system is supreme. You need to listen to them. Like other dangerous thugs in history, they have the habit of saying, up front, exactly what they want and what they'll do to get it.

Funny thing then, that I have never heard of any Al Qaeda types saying any such thing. What Osama bin Laden has said, clearly and repeatedly, is that he wants to eject what he regards as "occupiers" and "crusaders" from Arab lands, and has repeatedly and clearly said that the purpose of attacking the US is to force the US to change its foreign policy and withdraw its military presence from that region.

On the other hand, the neoconservatives behind the Bush administration's foreign policy have said, clearly and repeatedly, that their goal is permanent unchallengeable US military domination of the planet. The term they use is "full spectrum dominance". Like "other dangerous thugs in history" they say what they want (military domination of the planet) and what they'll do to get it ("preemptively" attack any country that looks like it might someday present a challenge to their supremacy).

They are a threat to Western civilization, and they're certainly a threat to progressive Western civilization.

Al Qaeda and its ilk are not a "threat to Western civilization". That's ludicrous and absurd. In terms of the number of lives lost, the 9/11 attacks were the equivalent of a one-time ten percent increase in annual motor vehicle fatalities in the US.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists would be a serious threat, but nuclear weapons in anybody's hands are a threat to civilization, and have been since they were invented. The US and Russia each still have thousands of hydrogen bombs locked and loaded on ICBMs, targeted at each other's cities, and the possibility of a global thermonuclear war (including an accidental thermonuclear war, which came terrifyingly close to actually occurring on multiple occasions during the Cold War) is still real, and perhaps a greater danger than nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.

And by far the most serious and imminent threat to civilization is anthropogenic global warming and our ongoing destruction of the capacity of the Earth's ecosystems to support life.

If you really believe the things you are saying, then you have been duped.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 17, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan's posts fall into 2 categories:

(1) mocking the Iraqi army, and,
(2) mocking GW Bush.

And I get the idea he impresses himself with every post.

Posted by: Paddy Whack on March 17, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist has given an appropriate response. Thanks.

To it I will add:

How large is the army of the caliphate? Hundreds of thousands or millions? By what means will they come to dominate the US or Europe or whoever? How will they break us? Do you think that they can do what Hitler, the Japanese empire and the Soviet Union could not do? Do you really think they have the capacity to convert us to their unhappy version of Islam? They are mice thinking up the biggest boom for media converge so they can advertise their programme. Should we give up the rights of the Republic and our treasure for every cut-throat sitting around a table in some dust land who doesnt like us?

Sure they have illiberal ideas and dreams and sure they are prepared to be nasty. But the proper response is what happened in London after the Tube bombings- a stiff upper lip, find the bastards, and get on with your day. Not suspend the constitution and invade, say, Iran.

Get a bloody spine.

Posted by: bellumregio on March 17, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

It is the neo-cons who are broadcasting their desire to rule the world. As a matter of fact, they did it again yesterday, when the Bush Regime released the National Security Strategy, re-afirming preemptive war and their intention of maintaining militant hegemony over the world.

Hannah Arendt said totalitarians were forthright in proclaiming their intentions. I think she was correct.

Posted by: Hostile on March 17, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK
Stefan's posts fall into 2 categories:

(1) mocking the Iraqi army, and,
(2) mocking GW Bush.

And I get the idea he impresses himself with every post.

How about response to his actual points, rather than making broad generalizations and reports on your attempts at remote psychoanalysis?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 17, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: bellumregio on March 17, 2006 at 6:46 PM

Spot on.

Posted by: E. Henry Thripshaw on March 17, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

And I get the idea he impresses himself with every post.

He's clearly impressed you.

Posted by: E. Henry Thripshaw on March 17, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

How about response to his actual points, rather than making broad generalizations and reports on your attempts at remote psychoanalysis?

Maybe its just me, but I've noticed the trolling around here has gotten a lot more personal as of late. Its as if they don't have any other defense anymore other than shoot the messenger. Hmmm.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on March 17, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist on March 17, 2006 at 6:30 PM

bellumregio on March 17, 2006 at 6:46 PM

Both posts are spot on. Props.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 17, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

And they most assuredly want to dominate the world, a world in which their belief system is supreme.

Yeah! Damn Fundamentalist Christians.

Wait, what?

Posted by: mattS on March 17, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq-alypse Now! Complete with helicopters! "Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!"

Posted by: Mad Blogger on March 17, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Steve W. writes:

They're not Hessians, and that's a silly thing to say. They're defending their own country. That thousands of young Iraqi men continue to volunteer should tell you something. You might not like what's been wrought in Iraq, but a sizable proportion of Iraqis see it as something worth fighting for.

I suspect the loyalty of many Shia troopers is not first and foremost to Iraq, nor are members of the Kurdish Pesh Merga loyal first to Iraq. But in a country where jobs are scarce, the money for being a soldier is the best thing many young men can get. The U.S. would certainly like the Iraqi Army to be loyal to a united Iraq, but in our military absence that unity would likely crumble, and I think the Pentagon knows it. Which is one big reason we aren't giving them heavy armnaments. How well a lightly armed force may do against the insurgency depends on how many casualties they are willing and able to take to keep control of the country. Given the lack of political agreement between Shia, Sunni and Kurd, such control may not even be achievable in any case, and we'll end up with a largely Shia force occupying strategic parts of Sunni Iraq, with U.S. backup for the foreseeable future. Which if the example of Lebanon is any example, will be at least ten more years.

Posted by: David W. on March 17, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Whad'ya expect from a Potemkin President?

Posted by: angryspittle on March 17, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think I've discovered a fifth column!!

They're in the fucking White House and GOP controlled Congress!!

Posted by: angryspittle on March 17, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

by the way, this post, by cmdicely responding to one of our village idiots:

Can we talk ignorance instead of dishonesty?

In your case, the two are hardly exclusive, though its been my impression that, to date, you've favored the latter. Are you proposing a change in your posting style?

is hands-down post of the day.

Posted by: Francis on March 17, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

steve white: " They are a threat to Western civilization"

The hell they are. They're less of a threat than a dipshit country like Oman or Yemen. When you have ten thousand megatons staring you in the face, now _THAT's_ a threat: we faced that for decades without going anywhere near as crazy as we are today.

A few thousand semiliterate fanatics without money, without an industrial base, without echnical knowledge or significant weapons - without a single jet, without a single _tank_ as far as I know - that's supposed to be a threat to Western civilization. Give me a break. Oh, and the Caliphate is about to be reborn - ridiculous, and it's not as if it'd amount to a hill of beans if it _did_ exist.
A lazy, hazy, crazy President is far more of a threat to the country than all the Arab terrorists ever born.


Posted by: gcochran on March 17, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

This actually makes me feel better. Whenever we've made a major assault on a city (Falluja, for example), it seems we just kill ordinary citizens and destroy the city but make no real progress against the insurgency. I'd rather we stop doing it. I was feeling sick that we were bombing Samarra until I read that we weren't actually bombing but sending in troops by helicopter.

I also recently read an article about strategies that have worked in other similar situations, including an "oil stain" approach to Iraq that by securing small areas then over time spreading out; It also said that we need to take the time to train Iraqi troops thorougly, including sending them on smaller, easier missions at first, rather than rushing them through the training process only to have them fall apart under heavy fire and running away. It's probably too much to hope that maybe this is such a mission, but maybe, maybe it's not meant to be sham but the US has finally adopted a better training strategy for Iraqi troops?

I must be insane to think that they might try something new just because what they're doing isn't working.

Posted by: MagToes on March 17, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.defendamerica.mil/archive/2006-03/20060308pm2.html

check out the iraqi tank.

Posted by: berlins on March 17, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Whenever we've made a major assault on a city (Falluja, for example), it seems we just kill ordinary citizens and destroy the city but make no real progress against the insurgency.:

Does anyone remember Vietnam?

Posted by: lin on March 17, 2006 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah. Saddam salted away current accurate Iraqi Army uniforms. An example of excellent foresight. Another site (different operation) recovered fake security IDs. No doubt Saddam also knew what those would look like three years ago.

No, but he did stash weapons, you dishonest hack. I notice you don't say anything about those. And as was already pointed out to you, the discovery of these uniforms is ominous news, as it indicatates how deeply the insurgency has penetrated that Iraqi army you're counting on to save Bush's face.

I think the military knows the difference between a recent cache and one three or four years old.

Your faith is touching. As is your faith that the military is telling the truth. I wonder, though, how you would tell? If memory serves me right, weapons are stored coated in preservatives.

In any case, tbrosz, if you want to pretend this op dealt some crippling blow to the insurgency, you go right ahead. Speaking of which:

Can we talk ignorance instead of dishonesty?

As the other posters have noted, tborsz, those are all you ever do talk, but you favor the latter.

And you guys complain when I assert that the left always sides with the enemy.

Rightly so, tbrosz, you dishonest hack. If expressing concern about the civilian casualties created by an anti-insurgent operation that even Bush water carriers like you aren't denying was a big dog-and-pony show is exclusive to the Left, then that's nothing but an indictment of the right. Not to mention, of course, that the question offers no support to the enemy -- although the US military killing Iraqi civilians sure does.

Shame on you, tbrosz. This was a disgustingly dishonest and offensive performance even by your standards. Shame on you.

Posted by: Gregory on March 17, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

When you have ten thousand megatons staring you in the face, now _THAT's_ a threat: we faced that for decades without going anywhere near as crazy as we are today.

Word. I'm old enough to remember the Cold War and A-bomb paranoia. I grew up in a city that was a probably first-strike target.

The USSR was not the existential threat to the US many imagined -- after all, when it was breaking up, no lunatic Soviet ordered an apocalyptic missile strike -- but a threat nonetheless. Radical Islam is no such thing (and, by the by, in my opinion anyone whouses the term "Islamofascism" is just indicating he is not to be taken seriously).

Posted by: Gregory on March 17, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory - also Word.

I lived on Oahu in Kailua next to the Marine base at Kaneohe. We had the duck and cover exercises to protect us from a 10 Megaton bomb landing about 3/4 mile away. Even had the evacuation kits - couple of quarts of water, peanut butter, etc.

My father's contempt for that shit glowed in high ultraviolet. And my nother was more restrained in her language but could have removed paint from the walls. They were both WW2 vets and had a good idea of the difference between mindless belief and actual physics.

Iraq was not a threat and Iran won't be a threat to the mainland US for a decade. The intermediate shit can be dealt with by some hard nosed (not Bolton - he's a psychotic fantasist) diplomacy.

Posted by: Butch on March 17, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

I still say they got the name of the operation from an episode of Seinfeld.. ("swarm! swarm!")

Posted by: Andy on March 17, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

we'd all be typing in German right now

Well, the nazis may have lost the war, but 60 years later -- the people behind hitler's rise to power and the war machine are in charge of the US.

Guess they lost the war, but not the battle...

They won't make us speak german, but it is still becoming a facist state.

Posted by: anonymous on March 17, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Get ready for the slaughter

Posted by: wolf on March 18, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

One name for anyone who thinks terrorism is a 20th century invention: Guy Fox

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 18, 2006 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

Minor correction, GC: Guy Fawkes...

Which reminds me: V for Vendetta opened this weekend...

Posted by: grape_crush on March 18, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

D'Oh! Trying to do three things at once: Toggle screens, answer the phone, and get the tube...Honestly, I do know better! Get out the wet noodle, I'll take my lashing!

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 18, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

And, if I recall correctly, the crux of it all was religion. Protestant persecution of Catholics, I do believe.

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 18, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

I see the Dems are back to their position from nearly 4 decades ago, calling our troops 'baby killers.'

Posted by: FrequencyKenneth on March 18, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, how did I ever miss this one?:

The Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house. - former Abu Ghraib 'detainee'

Found it in "What I Heard About Iraq in 2005", by Eliot Weinberger. Check it.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n03/wein01_.html

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 18, 2006 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

A dead child is a dead child. Undeniable, that. Not that I am defending calling troops baby-killers, I'm apalled that we could revisit that shameful era. Lets place the blame where it belongs: Mr. Pro-Life himself, George Bush, started this mess, and the deaths of children are blood on his hands.

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 18, 2006 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

Note too the Potemkin attacks on Taliban in Pakistan coinciding with Bush's visit.

Posted by: bob h on March 18, 2006 at 7:16 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, every so often I enjoy putting on my codpiece, dressing up in a flight suit with lots of straps and buckles, and prancing around on the deck of an aircraft carrier, yelling "bring 'em on, boys! Bring 'em on!"
Posted by: Stefan

woohoo - send pix.

>>laughing

Posted by: CFShep on March 18, 2006 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Steve White:

> Islamofascism is not fragmented:

"Islamofascism" is a term invented by Westerners who don't have much
of an understanding of Islam. Nazis and Fascists called themselves
Nazis and Fascists with pride. Islamists have no truck with this
label, and are in fact quite fragmented. Pro-state Islamists are
hardly the same thing as radical antistate Islamist revolutionaries.

> it has a common core ideology and belief system.

Oh really? So the Wahabi clerics who administer civil society in
Saudi Arabia have the same interpretation of Islam as the Iranian
Guardian Council? And both of these, of course, fully support Osama's
brand of Islam, and embrace Sayyid Qutb and the doctrine of takfir?

> It is not at all stateless,

Which is why Osama lives in a cave in an anarchic frontier region.

> since adherents believe in the unmah and an eventual caliphate.

Let me try to unpack this for you, Steve. Conservative theocratic
and quasi-theocratic Islamist regimes do not embrace the same
Caliphate ideology as Islamist revolutionaries. While there are
Koranic reasons that make separation of mosque and state a challenge
in all Muslim countries to a greater (Saudi Arabia / Iran) or lesser
(Turkey / Indonesia) extent, orthodox Islamic doctrine puts a premium
on getting along with rulers, even if they are despotic. Sayyid Qutb,
the ideologist behind the Muslim Brotherhood and Osama, revived an
ancient doctrine (not in the Koran or the hadiths) called takfir,
which means it is righteous to kill aspostate Muslims and overthrow
apostate Muslim regimes. Let me ask you, Steve ... How far do you
think Saudi Arabia, the nation to which every type of Muslim extant,
from the most austere Wahab to the most secularized Sufi, is obligated
to pilgrimage to (one of the Five Pillars of Islam), would get if
it officially embraced takfir and assassinated apostates in Mecca?

Don't confuse conservative with radical. Osama's ideology
is a threat to every Muslim government on earth -- including
the austere, purist theocacies of Saudia Arabia and Iran.

> They are not unorganized, they are decentralized, as
> they've learned that such a network is vital to survival.

If they were state-sponsored, that decentralized
network would hardly be as vital, would it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 18, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

The liberals are always stuck on stupid. It appears as though one of the main instigators of the Golden Dome Mosque bombing was nabbed in Operation Swarmer. But go ahead and laugh this one off too, afterall the Mosque had it coming right and Bushco is ultimately responsible for it anyway, not the people that actually detonated the bomb.

Global Citizen is a special kind of stupid and should be leading the charge for the lunatic minority fringe of the minority party. You'd better hope those Saddam Docs don't contradict all of the garbage that has been spewn from the left the last four years.

Posted by: Jay on March 18, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Jay:

You better be careful, dude, or I'll move you from the Obnoxious Troll category to Miscellaneous Psychotic :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 18, 2006 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

I just love how the so-called liberal PBS and NPR continue -- two days after the commencement of "Operation Swarmer" -- to report this as "the largest air offensive since the beginning of the war." And that is all they have to say, except that "the Iraqi soldiers are playing a key role in the operation."

Just goes to show how pathetic our "public" broadcasting networks have become.

Democracy Now!, anyone?

Posted by: Mitch on March 18, 2006 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Um, Jay, just how often has the Bush administration claimed that it seized or killed a major terrorist perpetrator or leader of one kind or another? And how many times have they admitted later that, gee, guess what, it was all a mistake? If you read that story carefully, you will see that they are claiming that just maybe, they might have one of those perpetrators, not that they definitely do. As Iraq's national security adviser complained, too many innocent young men are being rounded up in these sweeps and he is calling for their quick release.

As for the "Saddam Docs," if there were anything there, the Bush administration would have revealed it a hell of a long time ago. It's kind of silly to pretend that we're going to get anything new now or that you're going to find the evidence you think will vindicate the stance you have stubbornly held to for the past several years.

But hey, if you believe all that, well, I have some Florida swampland that I can sell you at a real bargain price....

Posted by: PaulB on March 18, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, is anyone else reminded of "Operation Lightning," that offensive that was supposed to take back the streets of Baghdad, prove that Iraqi security was up to snuff, and cripple the insurgency? Remember how they trumpeted far and wide how many hundreds of people they had rounded up? And quietly whispered a couple of weeks later that something like 98% of those rounded up had been released?

Posted by: PaulB on March 18, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

News reports 3/18 are reporting (1) this operation was organized and planned by the Iraqi army, and, (2) one of the insurgents responsible for the recent Shia temple bombing was arrested.

Are the Dems glad at the postive developments?

No, the Dems sneer.

Posted by: FrequencyKenneth on March 18, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

I totally read the title as "A Pokmon Operation". Heh.

Posted by: Caitlin on March 18, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

FrequencyKenneth, determined to show that he really should be reading news from more sources, writes: "News reports 3/18 are reporting (1) this operation was organized and planned by the Iraqi army,"

No, dear, it wasn't. Because unless the U.S. military has completely turned over control of our troops, our planes and helicopters, and our equipment to the Iraqi army, the Iraqi army is not capable of organizing and planning such a raid.

"(2) one of the insurgents responsible for the recent Shia temple bombing was arrested."

No, dear, the U.S. military said that they thought they just *might* have one of those insurgents. They have made similar claims in the past, most of which have turned out to be false. And people like you have swallowed such reports, hook, line, and sinker. Care to place a wager on whether this report will turn out to have been correct?

And I note that you didn't bother to address the real substance of Kevin's posts and the remarks made since then. Care to try again, this time with something intelligent?

Posted by: PaulB on March 18, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, I prefer the obnoxious troll category.

PaulB, the Saddam documents have just recently begun to be vetted and translated, making it a little hard for Bushco to reveal the contents "a long time ago". Operation Swarmer is also the first major mission that was planned entirely by Iraqi generals and lead by Iraqi forces with US backup. This is a huge shift in military force. The Iraqi military is now in control of 50% of the country and predicted to be 75% by summer.

Posted by: Jay on March 18, 2006 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Jay, those documents are not new, despite the fantasies of the right-wing blogosphere. The Bush administration has had these papers, as well as the people who wrote them, for three years now. If there were anything there, we'd know it by now.

The rest of your little fantasies about this Potemkin operation are just that: fantasies.

Posted by: PaulB on March 18, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraqi military is now in control of 50% of the country and predicted to be 75% by summer.

too bad that remaining 25% doesn't include the capital...

Posted by: Gregory on March 18, 2006 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Global Citizen is a special kind of stupid and should be leading the charge for the lunatic minority fringe of the minority party."

I am a special kind of stupid, eh? Well, all I have to say to that is I have been called worse things by better people.

You don't know me, you don't know the experiences in my life that have shaped my world-view, and you just stepped on your dick. The regular posters here know me, and know that I am far from radical left - I have more libertarian / left leanings, and have even been know to vote for Republicans when they were the better choice.

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 19, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatives like to say that liberals are stuck on stupid? Well, they all appear to be stuck on shameless.

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 19, 2006 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

I see that Global Citizen AND PaulB have returned as well - they are really 2 stupid fuckers.

Posted by: Don P. on March 19, 2006 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

The troops did manage to score some free bread: "Before loading up into the helicopters for a return trip to Baghdad, Iraqi and American soldiers and some reporters helped themselves to the womans freshly baked bread, tearing bits off and chewing it as they wandered among the cows."

I wonder what the old lady had for dinner that night.

Posted by: Brian Boru on March 19, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Being called a "stupid fucker" by the likes of the foam-flecked Don P'd himself is like being called ugly by a frog, wouldn't you agree, PaulB?

I haven't forgotten the stupidity of his "ticking timebomb" arguments, or the folly of many other points he has espoused. As I said about the other moron, was it "FrequencyKenneth"? I just sort-of ignored the troglodyte...I have been called worse things by better people, and Don P is a particularly loathsome troll. Any insult from him is a compliment to those in the reality based community. (Don't they power down the PC's in your group-home around midnight, Don P.?)

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 19, 2006 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK

I doubt that this is the same "Don P," but yeah, being insulted by one of our usual trolls, and in a particularly childish and brainless way, is more a badge of honor than the reverse.

Posted by: PaulB on March 19, 2006 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Um PaulB, your fantasies of this being a quagmire are just that: Fantasies. This is the least bloody of war where we actually had boots on the ground in history and possibly the shortest. In just over three years, the US military and deposed a dictator and helped to establish a freely elected government and trained a military. Unfortunately we lost roughly 2200 brave men and women in the conflict but the what should be said is that fortunately we only lost 2200 men and women, hell we lost more soldiers than that in an hour during WWII.

Iraq has now become a security concern, rather than a war, in which the Iraqi military and security forces are now taking the lead. Considering that the Iraqi people are transitioning from tyranny to having personal freedoms, three years does not seem to be an unreasonable amount of time and now the the good people of Iraq are taking charge, the process will even be quicker.

Posted by: Jay on March 19, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Um, Jay, dear, where on earth did I say that Iraq was a quagmire? Is it really so difficult to deal with the things I did say that you have to make up things I didn't?

The rest of your little fantasies are so far removed from reality that they really aren't worth the trouble to even respond to, much less debunk. I do suggest you dig a little more into this current operation that you are so proud of -- the reality is far less than you, or the Bush administration, has portrayed it to be.

Posted by: PaulB on March 19, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Jay? I suggest you actually ask the U.S. soldiers and the Iraqi citizens whether they are in a war or not. The answer might surprise you. Doubtful, though, since you seem incapable of letting reality penetrate those fantasies you have constructed.

Posted by: PaulB on March 19, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

As for the current operation, well, let's look at the record, shall we?

- The U.S. has admitted that of the six weapons caches found, none were substantial.

- U.S. commanders in the field said that not a single shot had been fired at their forces.

- More than 700 families have been displaced from the region and none has received any aid so far, neither from the U.S. nor from their own government.

- 35 civilians, including women and children, have been injured by the air strikes. 18 bodies have been taken to the local hospital.

- Considering that this entire raid is claimed to have been the result of Iraqi intelligence, it doesn't say much for the quality of that intelligence, does it?

- The U.S. appears to be backing off its claim that they caught a perpetrator of the mosque attack, just as predicted.

- Of the 80 or so people initially detained, 20 have already been released. It is a safe bet that the majority of the remainder will be quietly released, as well.

In short, the description of this as a Potemkin operation is precisely correct. This was a meaningless operation that will accomplish nothing more than a little propaganda -- propaganda that people like you have been mindlessly lapping up for several years now. Like "Operation Lightning" and the other so-called "turning points," this operation will, in the end, accomplish nothing.

But hey, if you want to continue to nurse your little fantasies, you go right ahead. By the way, you might want to contact our dear friend Allawi. He seems to be convinced that Iraq is in a civil war. I'm sure he would benefit from your wisdom on these matters.

Posted by: PaulB on March 19, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

While even I admit that others like NTodd used "quagmire" earlier and more often, PaulB, you certainly did use the word re: Iraq.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2003_07/001659.php#018758

Posted by: Don P. on March 19, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah - can we call it a civil war yet? It's been one for a while, and most everyone outside the beltway has ceded that fact. (Or should I say "outside the bubble" instead of outside the beltway?)

Posted by: Global Citizen on March 19, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Is that the same as Kevin's infamous "housing bubble"? Civil war, or not, as long as the Republicans pull out enough troops before Election Day, they will win yet again - is THAT what you want? Why can't the Democratic Party simply nominate moderates anymore?

Posted by: Don P. on March 19, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Don P wrote: "While even I admit that others like NTodd used 'quagmire' earlier and more often, PaulB, you certainly did use the word re: Iraq."

Don P, dear, did you actually bother to read the comment you linked to? That's fricking hilarious -- in your desire to slime me, you completely misread what I wrote, thereby conclusively demonstrating what we already know about you.

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB, dear, did you use the word "quagmire" re: Iraq, or not? That's all I set out to prove - there are plenty more examples of your use of that word on these threads - Google conclusively proves that as well. The new catch phrase is "civil war" though. Didn't you get the memo?

Posted by: Don P. on March 20, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Don P wrote: "PaulB, dear, did you use the word 'quagmire' re: Iraq, or not?"

On this thread, which is what Jay was referring to? Nope. In the comment you cited? Nope. Elsewhere? Damned if I remember, but if I did, I almost certainly qualified it quite carefully.

"That's all I set out to prove"

Alas, then, that you so miserably (not to mention stupidly) failed, since your example was quite clearly false.

"there are plenty more examples of your use of that word on these threads - Google conclusively proves that as well."

Talk is cheap, dear heart.

"The new catch phrase is 'civil war' though. Didn't you get the memo?"

Why yes, dear, I did. Did you have a point to make?

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

For those of you who don't want to copy and paste the link, this is the comment of mine, in its entirety, that Don P referred to:

It's entirely possible that this [Paul Bremer's] comment is directed at the Iraqi public and the American public. The former, to deal with complaints about an occupation force and the latter, to deal with complaints about a "quagmire."

That July, 2003, post was in reference to a comment from Paul Bremer that Kevin had noted, in which Bremer was implying that we were going to be out of Iraq quite soon. Note that I did not call our struggle in Iraq a "quagmire," and that I quite carefully put the word in quotes, and for very good reason. Don't you just love it when one of our usual trolls reveals just how dumb they really are?

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

It was just the first one I found, PaulB. If you don't think that was specific enough, I will try to find another example for you then.

Posted by: Don P. on March 20, 2006 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Since that one that you found not only "wasn't specific enough," it was completely false, forgive me if I don't hold my breath while I wait for you.

I'm actually rather curious. I did my own Google search and could quite easily find threads where someone said "quagmire" and where I had posted on the thread, but in the first couple of pages, I was unable to find any posts where I called Iraq a "quagmire." I got bored and quit after that.

If you have more patience than I and can actually find a post of mine in which I explicitly call Iraq a "quagmire," I'd be happy to take another look at it. I suspect I'll stand by it, though, as I stand by the other posts I've made on Iraq over the past few years. I've got a far better record on that topic than does the Bush administration, for example (not that that achievement is particularly notable, given the low bar they set).

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Wow! Since you asked so nicely, PaulB, here are 2 more (the italics are you quoting someone - note the BOLDED words "quagmire" and "Iraq"):

""You still fight if you have reason to."

And you don't fight when you have no reason to, which was the case in Iraq.

"Remember all the talk about going to war without France, Germany, and Russia at our side and how that would destroy the whole fabric of our global alliances?"

Why no, John, I don't, because few, if any, people talked like that. People pointed out that our alliances would be damaged (they have), that we would no longer be trusted (we aren't), and that our job would be made enormously more difficult (it was). All of these assertions were true.

"Politically, it was risky to go to war without some of our erstwhile allies."

Particularly when it was known that our ostensible reasons to go to war were false, which is why we had so few people and countries supporting us.

"Militarily, it was an advantage."

Not even remotely. We exposed our weakness to the world, locked our military in a quagmire that has no exit strategy and no end in sight, and have caused serious damage to our recruiting goals, thereby damaging our military's effectiveness and readiness. Militarily, Iraq was an enormous blunder . . ."

Posted by: PaulB on April 26, 2005 at 1:45 PM http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_04/006191.php#578069

"What's been interesting to me is the radically different takes on recent events in Iraq. On just the events in recent Najaf, for example, I heard that:

1. Sistani was the big winner because he came in, took over, and made something happen that nobody else could do.

2. Allawi was the big winner because he successfully faced down Sadr and is now bringing him into the political process.

3. Sadr was the big winner because he didn't have to disarm anyone or give up any weapons or pay much of a price, other than to give up his hold on the shrine.

4. Sadr was the big loser because he had to give up the shrine and his militia was considerably weakened by the pounding it took.

5. Allawi was the big loser because he was ineffective and couldn't make anything happen.

And so on. The one thing that pretty much everyone agreed on was that the U.S. wasn't really the winner there. I do have to question how much of this is showing up on the major network news programs, though. Just as in the case of Afghanistan, now that Najaf appears to have settled down, I'll be surprised to see much mention of Iraq over the next couple of months (other than the 1,000th man killed stories).

If a war is a quagmire but nobody is reporting it, will the voters know and care?"

Posted by: PaulB on September 1, 2004 at 2:26 PM http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2004_09/004607.php#250403

Don't tell me, I again "completely misread what you wrote"? Either way, hopefully, you can do your own homework from now on.

Posted by: Don P. on March 20, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. Hopefully, you were holding your breath.

P.P.S. Jay - as you can see, PaulB's "where on earth did I say that Iraq was a quagmire?" was just his usual load of bullshit - no surprise since he is a self-admitted fag. Good instincts though.

Posted by: Don P. on March 20, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/17/AR2006031701797_pf.html

Some have described the situation in Iraq as a tightening noose, noting that "time is not on our side" and that "morale is down." Others have described a "very dangerous" turn of events and are "extremely concerned."

Who are they that have expressed these concerns? In fact, these are the exact words of terrorists discussing Iraq -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his associates -- who are describing their own situation and must be watching with fear the progress that Iraq has made over the past three years.

The terrorists seem to recognize that they are losing in Iraq. I believe that history will show that to be the case.

Fortunately, history is not made up of daily headlines, blogs on Web sites or the latest sensational attack. History is a bigger picture, and it takes some time and perspective to measure accurately.

Consider that in three years Iraq has gone from enduring a brutal dictatorship to electing a provisional government to ratifying a new constitution written by Iraqis to electing a permanent government last December. In each of these elections, the number of voters participating has increased significantly -- from 8.5 million in the January 2005 election to nearly 12 million in the December election -- in defiance of terrorists' threats and attacks.

One of the most important developments over the past year has been the increasing participation of Iraq's Sunni community in the political process. In the volatile Anbar province, where Sunnis are an overwhelming majority, voter turnout grew from 2 percent in January to 86 percent in December . . .

Posted by: Don P. on March 20, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Dear heart, is it really so hard for you to admit that you totally fucked up your first attempt to "prove" that I claimed that Iraq was a quagmire? That you completely misread my statement and that I did not, in that statement, say anything about whether Iraq was, in fact, a quagmire or not?

As for the other two quotes you cite above -- the latter is just as egregiously stupid as your first attempt. However, I have to give you credit -- the former was a direct quote in which I did, in fact, claim that Iraq was a quagmire. Congratulations!

So now that you've found it, care to address the substance of that paragraph (a paragraph that, as I expected, I still stand by)?

Not even remotely. We exposed our weakness to the world, locked our military in a quagmire that has no exit strategy and no end in sight, and have caused serious damage to our recruiting goals, thereby damaging our military's effectiveness and readiness. Militarily, Iraq was an enormous blunder.

So what is our exit strategy, Don? Where is that end in sight? Care to argue with me about military recruiting and readiness? Or about the effects of extended and never-ending tours of duty in Iraq on the military, the reserves, and the National Guard? Or about how we've exposed our weakness for all to see? Or do you, perhaps, want to take JohnFH's position that going to war without the support of our allies or the support of the rest of the world was actually an advantage?!

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Don P wrote: "no surprise since he is a self-admitted fag."

ROFLMAO.... Don't you just love blatant trolling? Dear heart, I haven't been bothered by insults like that since high school. Hilarious shit, though.

Oh, and for the record, Don, quoting dear little Donny Rumsfeld, a man who has been consistently wrong in damn near everything he has done over the past several years, doesn't really do much to advance your case.

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

DURING World War II, American soldiers en route to Britain before D-Day were given a pamphlet on how to behave while awaiting the invasion. The most important quote in it was this: "It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies."

By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.

In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.

In the five years Mr. Rumsfeld has presided over the Pentagon, I have seen a climate of groupthink become dominant and a growing reluctance by experienced military men and civilians to challenge the notions of the senior leadership.

I thought we had a glimmer of hope last November when Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced off with Mr. Rumsfeld on the question of how our soldiers should react if they witnessed illegal treatment of prisoners by Iraqi authorities. (General Pace's view was that our soldiers should intervene, while Mr. Rumsfeld's position was that they should simply report the incident to superiors.)

Unfortunately, the general subsequently backed down and supported the secretary's call to have the rules clarified, giving the impression that our senior man in uniform is just as intimidated by Secretary Rumsfeld as was his predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers.

Mr. Rumsfeld has put the Pentagon at the mercy of his ego, his cold warrior's view of the world and his unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower. As a result, the Army finds itself severely undermanned cut to 10 active divisions but asked by the administration to support a foreign policy that requires at least 12 or 14.

Only Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff when President Bush was elected, had the courage to challenge the downsizing plans. So Mr. Rumsfeld retaliated by naming General Shinseki's successor more than a year before his scheduled retirement, effectively undercutting his authority. The rest of the senior brass got the message, and nobody has complained since.

Now the Pentagon's new Quadrennial Defense Review shows that Mr. Rumsfeld also fails to understand the nature of protracted counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and the demands it places on ground forces. The document, amazingly, does not call for enlarging the Army; rather, it increases only our Special Operations forces, by a token 15 percent, maybe 1,500 troops.

Mr. Rumsfeld has also failed in terms of operations in Iraq. He rejected the so-called Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force and sent just enough tech-enhanced troops to complete what we called Phase III of the war ground combat against the uniformed Iraqis. He ignored competent advisers like Gen. Anthony Zinni and others who predicted that the Iraqi Army and security forces might melt away after the state apparatus self-destructed, leading to chaos.

It is all too clear that General Shinseki was right: several hundred thousand men would have made a big difference then, as we began Phase IV, or country reconstruction. There was never a question that we would make quick work of the Iraqi Army.

The true professional always looks to the "What's next?" phase. Unfortunately, the supreme commander, Gen. Tommy Franks, either didn't heed that rule or succumbed to Secretary Rumsfeld's bullying. We won't know which until some bright historian writes the true story of Mr. Rumsfeld and the generals he took to war, an Iraq version of the Vietnam War classic "Dereliction of Duty" by H. R. McMaster.

Last, you don't expect a secretary of defense to be criticized for tactical ineptness. Normally, tactics are the domain of the soldier on the ground. But in this case we all felt what L. Paul Bremer, the former viceroy in Iraq, has called the "8,000-mile screwdriver" reaching from the Pentagon. Commanders in the field had their discretionary financing for things like rebuilding hospitals and providing police uniforms randomly cut; money to pay Iraqi construction firms to build barracks was withheld; contracts we made for purchasing military equipment for the new Iraqi Army were rewritten back in Washington.

Donald Rumsfeld demands more than loyalty. He wants fealty. And he has hired men who give it. Consider the new secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey, who when faced with the compelling need to increase the service's size has refused to do so. He is instead relying on the shell game of hiring civilians to do jobs that had previously been done by soldiers, and thus keeping the force strength static on paper. This tactic may help for a bit, but it will likely fall apart in the next budget cycle, with those positions swiftly eliminated.

So, what to do?

First, President Bush should accept the offer to resign that Mr. Rumsfeld says he has tendered more than once, and hire a man who will listen to and support the magnificent soldiers on the ground. Perhaps a proven Democrat like Senator Joseph Lieberman could repair fissures that have arisen both between parties and between uniformed men and the Pentagon big shots.

More vital in the longer term, Congress must assert itself. Too much power has shifted to the executive branch, not just in terms of waging war but also in planning the military of the future. Congress should remember it still has the power of the purse; it should call our generals, colonels, captains and sergeants to testify frequently, so that their opinions and needs are known to the men they lead. Then when they are asked if they have enough troops and no soldier has ever had enough of anything, more is always better the reply is public.

Our most important, and sometimes most severe, judges are our subordinates. That is a fact I discovered early in my military career. It is, unfortunately, a lesson Donald Rumsfeld seems incapable of learning.

Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general, was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Bush arguably has committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory. To put it bluntly, he attacked the wrong target. While he boasts of removing Saddam Hussein from power, he did far more than that. He decapitated the government of a country that was not directly threatening the United States and, in so doing, bogged down a huge percentage of our military in a region that never has known peace. Our military is being forced to trade away its maneuverability in the wider war against terrorism while being placed on the defensive in a single country that never will fully accept its presence.

There is no historical precedent for taking such action when our country was not being directly threatened. The reckless course that Bush and his advisers have set will affect the economic and military energy of our nation for decades. It is only the tactical competence of our military that, to this point, has protected him from the harsh judgment that he deserves.

James Webb, Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration, and a Marine platoon and company commander in Vietnam

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

I wasn't adressing the "substance" in your posts - you couldn't handle that son - I was simply calling your bullshit for what it was. More procedural than substance.

Posted by: Don P. on March 20, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Don P, vainly trying to cover up his stupidity, writes: "I wasn't adressing the substance in your posts"

Yes, dear, we know. That's not exactly a surprise, given your track record. You'd much rather engage in childish insults -- so much more satisfying than actually having to, you know, think and all. Tell me again about my being a "self-admitted fag," won't you?

"you couldn't handle that son"

Anytime, Donnie, dear, anytime. Face it, dear heart, you're outmatched. I know it's tough to deal with, but hey, that's life.

"I was simply calling your bullshit for what it was. More procedural than substance."

ROFLMAO.... More projection, Donnie, dear?

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Good luck with this live one, Jay - he's really not worth your time though.

Posted by: Don P. on March 20, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever you say, Donnie dear. Now you just run along and play now; the grown-ups have some talking to do.

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

After calling your bullshit, I'm happy to leave your radioactive (and who knows what other filthy diseased) ass alone.

Posted by: Don P. on March 20, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

ROFLMAO.... Oh my... this is just too rich, not to mention fricking hilarious.

Alas, poor little Donnie. I fear I have antagonized and humiliated the poor dear. I'm just so sorry for having pointed out that you are a fool, Donnie. Can you ever forgive me? If it's any consolation to you, I really didn't need to point it out.

Posted by: PaulB on March 20, 2006 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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